By Ramon A. Balogun
The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is from all intents and purposes committed to creating opportunities that would improve the economic prosperity, social engagements of the youths and enhance our national cohesion; through youth focused programmes and initiatives, combined with sporting activities/events in and outside country.
To actualize these lofty ideals and programmes for the benefit of our youths, the Youth and Sports Ministry under the able leadership of Mr Sunday Dare subjected previous programmes( before his assumption of office) of the Ministry to a dispassionate scrutiny : and replaced them with several purposeful and diverse policies and programmes that would positively change the face of youth and sports development in the country, thereby restoring confidence in the sector.
Retrospectively, the Minister in his usual candour while speaking extempore at the annual gathering of staff last year, asserted that the series of innovative programmes launched recently by the Ministry were deemed necessary and pragmatic to ”sharpen the wheel in a new way, to refocus certain key areas of our mandate particularly youth development: what we have done is to create a new vehicle that could deliver fastly our mandate…” Mr Dare has also at several fora emphasized that youth and sports would be at an even keel of development.
It is worthwhile to state that the Ministry from 21st August 2019, till date, through the exemplary vision and leadership of the Minister, Mr Sunday Dare, initiated the D.E.E.L and W.E.P programmes to actualize Mr President’s agenda of lifting 10 million Nigerians, including our youths out of poverty before 2023. Justifying its conception, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development emphatically enthused that the D.E.E.L ; Work Experience Programe; Digital Youth Nigeria ( DY.ng) and Nigeria Online Youth Assembly ( NOYA) programmes of the Ministry was carefully crafted to address these burning issues of unemployment and employability of our youths. According to him, these deliberate policies and initiatives would create entrepreneurs and leaders for mentoring in the country.
For clarity, the acronym D.E.E.L stands for Digital skill and literacy, E for Entrepreneurship, E for Employment while L stands for Literacy and mentoring. The D.E.E. L is the umbrella term that encapsulate other skill acquisition programmes of the Ministry.
I must say, the barometer for acceptance of these capacity building programmes by our youths is evident in the massive registrations recorded on the Ministry’s website, which galvanized the Management into an expansion of its bandwidth. Initiating is one thing, implementing is the real driving force; the Ministry has not faltered any bit in my assessment.
With a purposeful and dynamic Minister at the helm of its affairs, the Ministry partnered several corporate organizations with an MoU , signed and sealed for actualization of its vision to train and enhance capacity of our youths on digital skills to make our youths self reliant, improve their entrepreneurial capacity and employability via the experiences garnered in corporate organizations under W.E.P. Some of these organizations include IBM, Junior Achiever, Nestlé Inc. and the MTN.
To further affirm the Ministry’s commitment to youth development, Mr Dare has consistently affirmed the importance of engaging corporate organizations that would equip our youths with digital skills to make them globally competitive thereby create paradigm shift for a knowledge based economy as it is in other climes.
In this instance, I would like to cite a particular interface in several of his meetings not too long ago, between the Minister of Youth and Sports Devlpt.; Mr Sunday Dare and the Country General Manager, IBM West Africa, Mr. Dipo Faulkner in his Office at the Federal Secretariat. During the meeting, Mr Faulkner spoke to the Ministry’s renewed and purposeful agenda on youth development when he said and I quote: ” that IBM offers only online content made available to anyone but it does not provide devices”. IBM, according to him, has three categories of training programme; Digital National Africa (DNA), to improve digital literacy of African youth and it is open to all with / without digital literacy.
A practical example of this is the recent training of 3000 Nigerian youths who have taken advantage of the Ministry’s online and offline training in digital skills ( during this period of COVID Lock Down ) and have received competency under its DY.ngprogramme, in partnership with IBM. Some of the areas of training include Web development, Cloud, Block chain, Artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, Coding, Quantum computing etc
Having stated all these, this writer can extrapolate that the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development under the present Minister is proactively alive and committed to it’s responsibilities of building the youths and strengthening their capacity: according to Mr Sunday Dare, ‘ the greatest resource is investment in youth’.
Once again, similar zeal of great commitment that recorded expansive public acceptance of the Ministry’s programmes nd activities in the youth sector is replicated in the Sports sector. The Ministry dissected the challenges and problems bedevilling our Sports sector into infrastructural, welfarism and perception. In no distant time with dogged pursuit of solutions, the Ministry under its tested and visionary Minister, Mr Sunday Dare launched the Adopt-A-Pitch and Adopt-A-Sports Centre strategies. Stadia like the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja, Lagos and Ibadan are being given a face lift by Philantropists: Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna has been accorded same attention and new look by the Kaduna State Government.
Similar feat recorded in infrastructural improvement of our stadia through partnership with Corporate organizations, Philanthropists and State Governments was at play also in the Adopt an Athlete initiative of the Ministry. To date, Edo, Delta and Anambra States have adopted some of our athletes; Corporate Organizations like Halogen Inc. have keyed into this initiative, a win- win relationship between the Ministry and Corporate Organizations, bearing fruits of welfarism for our athletes to encourage them in their training kits and programmes; a morale booster to winning more sporting laurels for the country at international Games and Competitions.
Without doubt, the Ministry under the able leadership of Mr Sunday Dare has successfully reinvented the wheel in the youth and sports sector of the economy and changed negative perceptions: all in its bid to strengthen the capacity of the youths, create opportunities for their economic prosperity, seamless engagements and inclusive growth in all spheres.