* NEPC says new searchlight now beamed on youths for non-oil export
By Ignatius Chukwu
Experts were lined up and important agencies of government were on hand. It was all at the instance of the Nigerian Export Promotions Council in the south-south with one aim; to get Rivers youths to adopt non-oil as the new opportunity for the empowerment of youths in an oil region.
The Nigerian Export promotion Council (NEPC) has unveiled plans to mop up and groom youths especially university graduates in the South-South Region with the opportunities in non-oil export.
To begin, NEPC in the south-south (Port Harcourt) headed by its regional coordinator, Ganiyu Ahmid Gbolagade, has concluded a one-day capacity-building workshop for youths in export with the theme: Non-Oil Export as Tool for Youth Empowerment.
Gbolagade who was represented, emphasized that the youthful population of Nigeria is one of the greatest assets of the country in its economic diversification agenda.
He said it is pertinent to mainstream them into the nation’s economic activities to curb youth restiveness.
He said in order to revolutionize the landscape of the non-oil export sector in Nigeria, NEPC’s searchlight is beamed on youth for active involvement in the economic diversification drive.
He gave the various ways youths can imbibe export as their own path on development.
The workshop attracted stakeholders who play crucial roles in helping to bring up youths in the state.
The Rivers State Coordinator, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), George Mfongang, in his goodwill message noted that the NYSC before now has established skills acquisition and entrepreneurship development, where Corps members are trained to be self-reliant and also employers of labour.
Mfongang, who was represented by Ihemawulotu Onyinyechi, reiterated that capacity building on youth empowerment “is not new to us, we are here today to learn more, to add to the knowledge that we already have, to make us not to be beggars in the country today.
The Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Lawson Ikuru, who was represented by the Director of Commerce of the Ministry, Emmanuel Nwankwo, in his goodwill message, encouraged youths to go into export business, particularly non-oil export. This sector according to him, is very large and rewarding to put food on tables, as well as expand the scope of financial footings. But bear in mind that it is without engaging in illegal exports that could lead to criminality.
He further disclosed that for anybody to play in the export market, he would need to have a preliminary and mastery knowledge of it, hence the essence of the workshop.
The President of Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA), Mike Elechi, in his goodwill message at the event, commended NEPC, and disclosed that the workshop will create awareness on youth empowerment through non-oil export activities, build the new generation of indigenous exporters and introduce more youth to global trade.
He implored participants at the workshop to make good use of this golden opportunity by expanding their business prospects through non-oil exports, boost Nigeria’s non-oil export trade in the region and participate actively in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) programme.
Technical presentations were made to teach the youths how to penetrate the export market. NEPC’s head, trade information service, Sylvia Adeneye, took the participants on ‘Basic tips for export business’. She urged business people to first grow their business before joining export.
She gave fundamental steps in export, starting from preparing an export plan, deciding on the product or service to export based on the availability of the products and competitiveness, and registering as an exporter with the NEPC, amongst others.
She said: “Secure the appropriate certification which depends on the nature of the product. procure products and properly package and label goods appropriately.”
She further enumerated the export friendly countries that made in Nigeria products go to, which include Europe, USA, Asia, Africa and middle East.
She disclosed that in a bid to create product visibility, the NEPC started an initiative known as the Export Trade House.
The key presenter, Eniola Yemi Temidayo from Femiment Associate, a development consultant, took the participants on ‘Prospects of non-oil export in Nigeria’ and how it would be a tool for youth empowerment.
He called for the need to have a platform where people can come and pitch their ideas, and get support funds/sponsorship for it.
He told participants to believe in themselves, that if they have the right mindset, they will have the will to succeed.
He also said it is possible to succeed in Nigeria, as the country has lots of opportunities.
Speaking on the sub-topic ‘Why youth empowerment’, he said “Nigeria is gifted with a growing youth population, who have received adequate training but are either underemployed or unemployed.”
He told participants to think of how to get independent.
He also said that youths should build on the things they have learnt in the university. “You did not go to the university to graduate, and learn how to do makeup and throw away your certificate.”
The workshop which attracted over 63 participants was well received, going by the responses of participants.
Many of them said their eyes have been opened by the technical knowledge resources put into them and asked to know what next they can do right now. These questions were fully treated by officials of the Council on ground.