The Mandela Washington Fellows Alumni Association of Nigeria (MWFAAN) has trained over 300 Nigerian youths in secondary schools on entrepreneurship and effective leadership skills.
President of MWFAAN, Lamide Johnson, who disclosed this at the Young Leaders Assembly summit, in Abuja, said the young people were trained under its “Beyond school community challenge” platform.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is an initiative of former US President, Barack Obama tagged ‘Young African Leadership Initiative’ designed to empower young Africans to transform their societies.
It composes academic coursework, leadership training and networking where young people are sponsored to the United States and attached to universities for six weeks for training on public administration and civic responsibilities.
Johnson said the Beyond School Community Challenge provides a platform for outstanding secondary school students to provide solutions to problems around their environment by creating community development projects.
He said: “Our team looked for young people in secondary school across the six geo-political zones in Nigeria to see if they can identify problems in their respective communities and develop innovative solutions to solve these problems. We called for applications and within six weeks we received 346 applications from different schools.
“We brought them here and trained them on different skills. Today, we are going to have the grand finale where the 10 finalists selected school and students will compete in the final pitching competition and whoever does really great will walk away with a million Naira.”
He added that training young people to acquire leadership and entrepreneurship skills is a call to service, which would help restructure the country’s political class in the long run.
He stressed the need for extensive dialogue among youth, saying it would help shape action plan of government that will give opportunities to young people to be involved in policy formulation for inclusive development.
The Chairperson of Nigerian Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, noted that investing in youths and paying attention to their skills development is key to Nigeria future economic growth.
She said the current administration is paying attention to youths development through its various programmes, saying that this is important at a time when young people face hardship including high unemployment that could lead to upward behaviour.
Dabiri-Erewa, however observed that the government cannot solve all the challenges alone, noting that youth must rise up to the challenge of work demand of today and develop themselves for the future.
“It is time for the youths to look inward and come up with innovative ways to develop their potential towards meeting up with the new trend in service delivery in line with global best practices”, she stated.