Former President Goodluck Jonathan spoke at the Oxford Union of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom on Monday, October 24th, 2016.
His focus of discussion was on the theme “Promoting Youth Entrepreneurship”.
The former president said he believed in the Nigerian youth and indeed African Youths. He further mentioned that his conviction was not only an emotional one but one grounded in his experience with youths from all over the continent.
That was why according to him, his administration introduced initiatives and policies to enable Nigerian youths to take their own destinies in their hands.
Here are 18 key points from his speech.
1. I provided infrastructure in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions and gave undergraduate students financial assistance in the form of Bursary awards.
2. I started building two special post-primary schools for gifted and talented children. The relevance of the gifted children school is obvious. For the talented children, the idea is to develop their natural talents in addition to sound education so that at graduation they can make a living from their God-given talents if they choose to do so.
3. We initiated a program to encourage the best brains of the State. We selected through competitive entrance examinations the most brilliant pupils in our primary schools and sent them to the best secondary schools in the country.
4. The idea was for the State Government to take care of the best brains from the post-primary through the tertiary level of their educational career and ensure that they attend the best institutions anywhere in the world. It was designed for a minimum of 100 pupils to be selected for this program annually. I left the State after one year and five months to contest the election as the Vice President, and therefore could not see the idea through.
5. I launched a similar program on assumption of office as the president called the Presidential Special Scholarship Scheme for Innovation and Development [PRESSID]. This scheme nurtured a select cadre of professionals, to serve as facilitators for accelerated, sustainable, economic and technological advancement.
6. Each year, through competitive examinations, we selected between 100-to-120 first class graduates and sent them to the top universities in the world to study for higher degrees. These students were drawn from various STEM disciplines. Let me mention here that Oxford University was an integral part of this program and indeed, a favourite for most of our applicants.
7. My administration also gave a series of educational incentives to university students across the country.
8. We established twelve conventional Universities and a specialised Maritime University. To assist the disadvantaged children in Northern Nigeria, we built 165 special schools known as “Almajiri School” that integrated Islamic culture into Western education.
9. The foundational theme of my Administration was ‘The Transformation Agenda’. It was conceived to engage the latent potential in the entire nation and to stimulate and enable higher productivity. And this was also the foundation of our youth development drive.
10. The Transformation Agenda sought to address the problems of youth job creation, with emphasis not just on getting our young citizens employed, but in assisting them in acquiring the right skills and providing the requisite support. This was to enable them to set up and run their own businesses; thereby becoming employers of labour themselves.
11. My Administration came up with various programs to encourage young entrepreneurs. The most popular are the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria “YouWIN”.
12. It was a unique intervention launched in 2012, which targeted youth with unique business proposals in startups and expansion of existing enterprises. YouWin is structured as a competitive cyclic initiative which invites and reviews Business Plans submitted by Youth. Young people who wanted to be entrepreneurs were asked to submit their business proposals. The best business plans were chosen based on relevance, profitability, demand and practicability. The winners were trained and given grants.
13. We launched The Graduate Internship Scheme ‘GIS’. The objective of this program was to provide temporary work experience for fresh graduates, to enhance their capacity to attract permanent jobs. Eligible graduates are posted to corporations and companies in the private and public sectors. They received practical training and mentorship for a one-year period, within which remuneration is paid by the government. This enabled the young graduates to acquire relevant experience.
14. We also increased the allowances due to Youth Corp members by more than 100% in 2011. This was in line with our policy of youth empowerment and development.
15. To ensure that the Nigerian youth benefits massively in the ICT revolution, we created a special Ministry of Communication Technology. We wanted the Nigerian Youth to be self-employed and exploit the advantages of ICT. The Ministry, among other things, improved broadband penetration, set up ICT incubation centres in Lagos and Calabar.
16. The efforts of the Young software engineers at the Lagos Co-Creation Hub (CC Hub) became so successful that it did not only give birth to many thriving start-ups, but their activities also attracted the attention of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg who chose it as his first stop during his first ever visit to Africa.
17. We identified Nollywood as a sector that can employ many young people. We provided a grant of $200m and for the first time, Nollywood became a major contributor to our GDP. In 2014, Nollywood contributed 1.4% to our GDP.
18. We encouraged our young people in that sector. I was to launch a Fund to encourage sporting activities in the Country but I had to bow out by 29th of May 2015. Nigeria has a crop of talented youth but the nation has not properly keyed into the global sports industry. The Fund would have been a catalyst to promoting the Nigerian sports industry by promoting training, the welfare of athletes and manufacturing of sporting equipment among other things.