Francis Sardauna writes that the empowerment of 11,901 vulnerable people at the Katsina Vocational Training Centre will contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of the state and Nigeria
A worrisome exposition of Nigeria’s astronomical youth unemployment statistics, recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), has again triggered a nationwide anxiety over a possible social upheaval if unchecked by relevant authorities. According to the NBS data, Nigeria’s national unemployment rate rose to 33.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020 from 27.1 per cent in the second quarter of the same year, while underemployment rate fell from 28.6 per cent to 22.8 per cent within the same period.
With the NBS’s statistics and explanation, Nigeria’s youth population, eligible to work is about 40 million, with only 14.7 million fully employed, and an estimated 11.2 million having no identifiable means of income, despite being touted as ‘future leaders’. The unemployment record in the country clearly portrays an increase in idle hands across the length and breadth of Nigeria. More worrisome is that youths in most cases are not even given the needed platform to freely express themselves in the country, thereby turning unemployment to the greatest challenge confronting the youths today.
Unfortunately, this has become a looming predicament to national security. Therefore, the NBS statistics leave no one in doubt that the government is not ready yet to take the unemployed youths off the streets. Also, the statistics are clearly a recipe for social disharmony across the country.
To tackle this age-long problem, the Katsina Vocational Training Centre (KTC) in the past 20 years, has been championing its humanitarian services for the less privileged, particularly vulnerable children, women, youths and students from across the 34 local government areas of Katsina State. The non-governmental organisation (NGO), which is operating from Katsina, located at 09, MD Yusuf Street, Kerau quarters, was established in 2000 by late Police IG, MD Yusuf to train and empower vulnerable youths, identify demoralised youths who engaged in drug abuse and political thuggery with a view to helping them out of the menace.
Other paramount objectives of the organisation is to find out effective ways of assisting people in boosting their business and vocational endeavours, fish out gifted and talented youths who have nobody to sponsor them achieve academic excellence, as well as empower disabled persons to appreciate the fact that there is “ability in disability”.
Despite the death of the octogenarian, the vocational training centre has been training students on tailoring, shoe making, electric wiring, welding, motor and auto mechanic, carpentry, GSM repair and logging, computer and internet management, fish farming, bakery, driving, catering and restaurant services, among other notable vocational skills.
To sustain its Corporate Social Responsibility, the centre has, from inception, trained and empowered more than 11,901 vulnerable people carefully selected from across the 34 Local Government Areas of the state with a view to boosting their businesses and vocational skills that would make them self-reliant. This curbed their overdependence on government for white-collar jobs, which many have noticed are not forthcoming.
Established out of the need to touch lives and enhance the socio-economic development of the needy and the country at large, the vocational training centre has also trained 2,770 inmates at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Katsina, and additional 870 others at the Katsina Correctional Centre.
Aside the aforementioned unprecedented achievements, the centre has embarked on proffering solution for effective skills development, such as management and administration of skill development centres in an outsourced environment, mobilised, trained and certified candidates for employment, skill inventories; build-operate-transfer of skill development centres, as well as design of process, framework for skills instructors within and outside the state.
In spite of the misgivings of the harsh economy occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Katsina Vocational Training Centre did not dash the hopes of these teeming vulnerable people, particularly the youths, women and children. The centre kept faith with them and hosted the 2021 International Youths Day where it empowered another set of 315 youths with sewing and knitting machines, fashion designing machines and take-off capital for the sustainability of their businesses.
Speaking during the programme, the Coordinator of the Centre, Malam Muhammad Danjuma Katsina explained that the business kits presented to the 315 graduate trainees would serve as take-off support to enable them establish various businesses and vocations.
Katsina, a seasoned journalist and Publisher of the famous Katsina City News Magazine and Taskar Labarai, urged the beneficiaries, who were mostly youths and women, to make the best use of the opportunity to develop themselves and become relevant in the nation’s economic redevelopment plans.
He said: “As a proactive vocational training centre, we have lined up a lot of youths empowerment programmes, a lot of skills development initiatives that will bring out the best in our youths and give them the opportunity to use their talents and creativities to develop themselves and contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of the state and the country at large.
“It is only through vocational trainings and empowerment programmes like this that we can reduce the unemployment burden in Katsina which will contribute to the efforts in fighting insecurity.”
He explained that the empowerment programmes would help youths develop their potential, saying “This, we believed will address the issue of youth restiveness, reduce crimes and other vices capable of undermining development efforts across the country.”
According to him, the Katsina Vocational Training Centre was established to, among other things, harness the energies and capacities of Nigeria’s teeming youths to propel them into the much-needed economic recovery, in line with the federal and state government’s economic diversification plans.
The coordinator of the centre, who decried the alarming unemployment figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, warned that the situation should not be allowed to degenerate further, given the bright ideas and big dreams of the youths. He added that the centre would continue to assist youths and implement their business ideas, thereby providing the mechanism for stimulating growth, reducing unemployment, as well as addressing youth restiveness.
In his goodwill message at the event, the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Abubakar Musa Danladi, apparently worried by the increasing spate of insecurity facing the nation, urged the youths to engage themselves in productive ventures that would better their lives and the nation.
He said the time had come for the Nigerian youth to denounce their involvement in crimes and engage in skillful ventures that would make them more useful to themselves, their communities, the nation and Africa at large. He said government was bringing out leadership role that would take the youths out of being used as instrument of distraction, destabiisation in the hands of some selfish politicians who never meant well for them and the country.
Danladi stressed that youths must redirect their mindset towards productive ventures, bring out God’s given innovations in them through the various innovation hubs, knowledge sharing, professional development, networking, mentorships and making impact, including partnership, consistency, transparency for growth; youth empowerment and sustainable development in the society.
The training and empowerment of more than 11,901 vulnerable people by the Katsina Vocational Training Centre would no doubt contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of Katsina State and Nigeria in general. Speakers at the centre harped on the urgent need for state government, philantropists, religious and traditional leaders to support the centre in its quest to take unemployed youths off the streets.
The Founder of the centre, MD Yusuf, born on November 10, 1931, died in 2015 after a brief illness. He was the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) between July 30, 1975 and 1979. Yusuf was seconded to the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) as an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in 1962.
He obtained his elementary, middle schools and higher educational qualifications at Katsina Provincial School, Katsina, School for Arabic Studies, Kano, 1947, Institute of Administration, Zaria (1952 – 1953) and Christ Church College (Oxford University). Among his numerous honours, the former police chief held the Nigeria Police Medal, Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (COFR), Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
After his retirement from the NPF, Mr. Yusuf held various national appointments, such as the Chairman of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited in 1994, Chairman, Central Working Committee of the Arewa Consultative Forum, a northern cultural and Socio-political association (2001), and Chairman, Presidential Committee on Nigeria Police Force Reform.
Yusuf died seven years ago but his memory still remains fresh in the minds of many people because of the legacies and humanitarian services he rendered during his lifetime.
He was also a Presidential candidate on the platform of the Grassroots Democratic Movement, and Movement for Democracy and Justice. He is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.