By Oluwakemi Ishola
As Nigeria Government prepares for post-Covid-19 era, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, said his ministry had trained 7000 youths on digital skills during the lockdown. The IBM in partnership with the Ministry engaged the youths with a view to getting them IBM badges.
The Sports Minister made this disclosure in an exclusive interview with journalists to commemorates his 54th birthday anniversary. He said his Ministry has moved from mere youth empowerment to design programs that focus on youth investment.
According to Mr. Dare, “We have tried to deal with the very needs of our youths in the 21st century. We have seen that digital skills gap is major. The digital world offers massive opportunities for our youths. We have designed programs in that direction to make sure that our youths get the relevant digital skills they need to be competitive in the 21st century digital economy”.
“The program we designed for this is called DEEL. DEEL plugs into the other programs we have in this ministry. What DEEL has done is to deepen these programs, to build more vehicles to deliver these programs in a pragmatic way and also to infuse the strategic implementation partners from the private sector to partner with us because government alone cannot do it. So D stands for Digital Literacy and Skills Acquisition, E stands for Entrepreneurship and the second E stands for Employability and L stands for Leadership and Mentoring”.
“Under each of this sub set you have initiatives and projects. We know that since COVID- 19 started we have been able to train almost 7.000 people who have joined us online for the IBM Ministry of Youth and Sports Digital Skills Training in various segments. Also we have advance level, intermediate level and junior level. Most of them have ended up collecting their IBM badge because once you finish the training online you get an IBM badge which is universally accepted as certification in that particular area. We have also done six webinars. Webinars are like virtual lectures. We realized that some of our youths will need to take one or two lectures before they can now go and try to take the course online. So there is a lot happening”.
“We are looking for coding for employment to train a lot of youths in coding. We are looking at mobile device training; we are looking at making entrepreneurs of our youths. We have seen the Asia experience particularly Thailand that the best way to deal with youth unemployment and underemployment is to put them on the path of entrepreneurship. In a deliberate way we are building an end to end process into our youth investment and development. What is end to end? It is not enough to give our youth training and then leave them to go back to the job market. We are looking at training them with the relevant skills”.
“Working with them to develop entrepreneur ideas and then providing access to credits, grants, loans that would make them self-starter entrepreneurs and they can be wealth creators and also employs others. That is what Thailand did. We are committed to President Buhari’s vision of lifting a 100 million Nigerians out of poverty. The mass of these people are youths. Once you lift the youth out of employment you have lifted that youth out of poverty and that will have a multiplier effect. We have the President’s support and mandate to go ahead and come and do what is necessary. The President each time I see him and after I greet him the next thing he tells me is; ‘are you keeping the youths busy? Make sure you keep them busy.’ I will say we are keeping them busy”
“The second mandate area is sport and for us we think that we need to put value on our sports development. The key focus for us is to develop a business model around our sports. To make sports an industry such that sports in this country would be able to create jobs for the mass of our youths. Sports in this country would be able to generate revenue for government and bring value to our sports men and women and the coaches’ sportscasters and all the others involved in the sporting industry”.
Mr. Sunday Dare reiterated his Ministry’s commitment to take sports off the column of recreation and place sports where it belongs in the column of economic activity, which would be able to generate two to three percent GDP for Nigeria. “We are committed and we are on the path of delivering a national sports industry policy; the first of its kind that would focus on the 3i’s and p. You need policy to drive that” he concluded.