The Enugu state government in collaboration with the Enugu West Youth General Assembly (EWYGA) on Monday, did the official flag-off of its ICT empowerment programme for youths in Enugu West Senatorial District.

Partnering with APTECH, a global ICT education outfit with headquarters in Mumbai, India, the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led administration hopes to empower the youths on three major areas of ICT which includes; digital marketing and content development, coding and web designing/programming, graphics and animation, amongst others.

Speaking at the event tagged ‘Upskill the Youths,’ Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi represented by the Honourable Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Hon. Manfred Nzekwe, highlighted the importance of ICT in driving the digital world as a veritable tool for the economic sustainability of the state as well as establishing the self-independence of the beneficiaries.

According to him, “As we all know, we’re in the era of information, communication and technology which is a major drive for sustainable development and economic self-reliance. Today, technology is the new normal in a digital world. Everything is now tech-driven and our investment, in human capital in ICT, is a veritable tool for employment and wealth creation.

“Enugu West Youth General Assembly have worked hard to make sure that its youths are positioned and trained to compete with others globally. I implore all other youths from other areas to copy from the youths of Enugu West and my prayer is that as the state government partners to make sure that all our youths are technologically driven, that this wonderful initiative is going to be sustainable.”

Nzekwe encouraged other youths from Enugu West to key into the programme “so that together we can be in better partnership to tackle the challenges of the world.”

Earlier in his opening remarks, the President General, EWYGA, Ambassador Elvis Obi-Nwankwo, who described the event as ‘an epoch-making initiative’, thanked the youth-friendly Governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Senator Ike Ekweremadu for presenting the opportunity for the youths to participate in the ICT skill acquisition programme.

He noted that technology has become a necessity and no longer a luxury in the global setting, especially at this period of a pandemic. “We’ve seen technology sustain the world economy during this COVID-19. We’ve seen many businesses, government and organizations operated remotely. The world is lost without technology and that’s why developed economies are investing heavily in it to explore its potentials,” he said.

“In Africa today, we run a different system. A system were the leaders oppress the creatives, the inventors and the change makers, but exalt politics as the only source of empowerment for the youth in Africa. In Nigeria today, we’ve had our former leaders lead us again because our youths are seen to be intellectually weak, lazy and young as suckling cubs.

“But in Enugu State, we’re very proud to have the best duo in leadership, politics and mentorship from Rt. Hon. Dr. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi and the Dist. Sen. Prof. Ike Ekweremadu. Men whose love, kindness, care and trust has brought us here today, for the flag-off of the first ever tech empowerment project in Enugu West Senatorial district. We are young but not daft, we are bold but not weak and we are change makers and not politicians,” he added.

He admonished the beneficiaries to show commitment and passion to what they do so they can be instrument of change to their families and the society at large, saying the era where youths depend solely on politics is coming to an end.

He said: “Brethrens, brace yourselves, fold up your sleeves and make the bold step now, because technology is the new oil and gas. Our leaders have done their part by giving us a platform to unleash our potentials and that we must do by utilizing this opportunity to escape poverty, frustration and political slavery. We are doers and not thugs, we are change makers and not political jobbers and we are the NOW and not the FUTURE. Let’s join hands with our leaders to build the Enugu West of our dreams.”

The APTECH centre manager and regional manager, Centre Point Network, Mr Cletus Ani, who interacted with our correspondent, noted that APTECH which has been in operation for over 34 years with branches in about 40 countries of the world has mastered the art of ‘proper technical computer/ICT education’.

“As a brand, we have always wanted to have some kind of corporate social responsibility done in every branch, town, or countries where we exist. We’ve been in Enugu for 6 years and it has been our desire to have students trained on some kind of CSR in which we’ll give them the same quality of training and same skills but at a very reduced price or at no price at all.

“This was what informed the relationship we have with the Enugu state government through Enugu West. The money the government will pay for the programme is just for maintenance and not for the programme itself,” the APTECH boss posited.

He added: “For us to give it to the beneficiaries free of charge, it’s something that should be taken very seriously. At the end of this programme, we expect that the participants will be at the top of their game in whichever area of specialty they are trained on.

“But beyond that, we see it as an empowerment process. The economy is not stable or favourable but with these skills they’ll be getting, they’re hopefully empowered to build their corporate identities, run their own IT businesses because they’ll now have the capability to do so and be independent enough.

“We also hope to help them understand how to build a brand, and understand how to run a company and how to register their companies. So, I’ll advise them to make ample use of the opportunity as they’re already privileged to have this partnership with us. They should not take it for granted but see it as one in a lifetime opportunity and come out with the best they can.”

Mr Ani earlier noted that the ICT initiative would help to ignite a huge tech revolution in the state even as he promised to offer immediate employment opportunities to top three graduating participants of the programme.

One of the beneficiaries and participant of the empowerment programme, Miss Onyoha Christiana Nneka, who expressed happiness at the event, thanked Governor Ugwuanyi and the organizers for having selected her to partake in the training.

“I’m very much happy and delighted to participate in this training. I thank the Enugu state governor and the organizers for giving us this wonderful opportunity. I’ve always wanted to know more about animation and graphic designing. This is a thing of joy to me and I hope to learn more and achieve my purpose of attending this programme,” she said.

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