As OIIE set to Host Startup Friday in Uyo

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OIIE
Commissioner for Science and Technology, Prof. Nse Essien pose with OIIE Coordinator, Dr. Amina Sambo after the later interacted with occupants of Start Innovation Hub located at the Ibom e-library, Uyo.

One of the greatest setback faced by Nigerian Government is unemployment.  In fact, though a certain bureau claimed Akwa Ibom State has the largest rate of this menace, truth remains that large percentage of the employable class are still languishing in the labour market across the country. My interaction with a friend recently led to the story below.

Oil companies, especially in the fields i.e. where the exploration is carried out, lay greater emphases on first class graduates or worse, second class upper when advertising their vacancies. This law is rumored to be more flexible at their headquarters – mostly in Lagos. In the later instances, a big time contractor might give a recommendation to the admins of these companies, and in such cases a third class or even a pass may not matter as long as you are ready to learn in your three months of probation, the required skills for your services.

So there is this guy who graduated from FUTO and immediately left Bayelsa State for Lagos where he believed it will be easier to secure an oil company job at one of the headquarters before returning to the field – in Bayelsa, and of course his hometown.  Unfortunately, he secured a third class in the highly competitive Mechanical Engineering department of FUTO. After months of scanning the streets of Lagos, he met an ex-‘FUTOITE’ – a common name for all FUTO students.

“Langdon,” the conversation ensued.  “What are you doing in Lagos? Where are you working?” The questions came in quick succession from his successful former course mate who now tossed his car keys in-between his fingers like a Don interacting with a novice. Langdon, whose only pair of jean trousers had been crying for a backup stared a few seconds at the floor before narrating his ordeal in the hands of employers in Bayelsa State before he moved to Lagos.

As the conversation prolonged, Langdon came to realize the secret applied by most graduates from various universities in getting their first jobs. Most of them visits a competent hub or collaborate with hubs within their reach to offer their services while learning the basic skills in Information Technology.  Others who can afford the high fees applied, out rightly pays for the training in the required skills in IT industry. “At first, it is very stressful.” King, the successful ex-colleague warned. “But if you are determined and remain focused you will make it to the top in any career you chose in no distance time,” he concluded giving his almost depressed friend a pat of encouragement on his back.

OIIE
OIIE Coordinator, Dr. Amina Sambo interacting with young people at Start Innovation Hub, Uyo.

The introduction into the best window for a life changing career was rapid, and soon the once IT novice on the streets of Lagos began attending tech events, learning new skills for free while only depending on his family for the necessary supports as the courses lasted.  Seeing himself in an island with no boats for his escape, he engaged in programming, beginning from HTML as the primary language, he learnt web development with lightning speed and soon he was able to handle simple tasks using PHP.

As my friend rounded up his discussion, he informed of Langdon’s exploits today as a startup co-founder and a major contractor to most multinational companies owing to his advantage from the oil exploration region. I will not be able to narrate all his achievements in this short article but I am certain that if Tony, my course mate can affirm to someone living comfortably, then indeed, the dude is comfortable.

Why am I narrating this short story?  Though some world leaders regard Nigeria as a ‘shithole’ country where nothing works, our leaders and infact our governments are doing the little they can to help young people.  The problem presently seems to be the fact that every young man believes the ‘get rich quick’ route is the best way to be successful.  Of course politics and ‘white paper’ offers such avenue and everyone clamor to be a politician even when one has ascertained within himself that he doesn’t possess the charisma to do so.

To redirect the attention of our young people to ICT as another short route to wealth, the Federal Government of Nigeria created the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE) which is coordinated by Dr. Amina Sambo. OIIE is a subsidiary established under the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to drive ICT innovation and entrepreneurship across the country to increase job creation, wealth creation and national competitiveness. On Wednesday, 7th February 2018, Dr. Amina was in Uyo to intimate members of the Akwa Ibom ecosystem of the coming event – StartUP Friday, which is coming up on the 9th of March this same year.

StartUP Friday is a component of StartUP Café designed to bridge startup growth gab by enriching the development processes of new tech-driven businesses through “meet-up” with successful entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, technology buyers and enthusiasts in major tech clusters across Nigeria. It is a gathering of critical tech development community to facilitate networking and exchange of ideas and information such as business financing, marketing, pitch preparation support, tech products and services etc.

Dr. Amina visited Start Innovation Hub in Uyo and other clusters in the state to consult and inform the ICT Stakeholders of Startup Friday, Akwa Ibom Edition. She is drawn to Uyo because she has felt the energy coming out of Uyo and she finds it expedient to bring this great event closer to the people of Akwa Ibom State. Hanson Johnson, the CEO of Start Innovation Hub took her round Start Innovation hub and it facilities introducing the various programmes and startups in the hub to her. The erudite coordinator was impressed by the level of work done by young people in Akwa Ibom despite the very limited resources they are exposed to, reiterating the need to look beyond Lagos and Abuja for talents and investment opportunities.

OIIE
Prof. Nse Essien is the first Commissioner for Science and Technology in Akwa Ibom State to show total commitment in partnering with the tech communities in Akwa Ibom State.

It must be noted that the ministry of Science and technology in Akwa Ibom State has witnessed tremendous achievements with Prof Nse Essien on the saddle as the commissioner for Science and technology in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. Receiving Dr. Amina, the Hon. Commissioner shared the various programs his ministry is partnering with the private sector to run in the State and his desire to get more young people into the industry in consonance with Governor Emmanuel’s dakkada philosophy.

Some of them includes the Hotels.Ng internship program where over 50 youths were exposed to Software Development and now earn huge amount of money by rendering services to firms round the globe.  Digital Marketing Training, where young people acquire the skills to promote brands and launch campaigns on the social media, the internet and even the traditional media. Professor Essien promised to work with OIIE to ensure they have a wonderful Startup Friday event experience in Uyo. He sent his regards to NITDA DG for approving to have Uyo as the venue for the coming Startup Friday.

ICT is seen as the new oil in the Niger Delta region. Apart from getting an automatic employment into the highly paid oil industry, young people can get themselves engaged in various startups to provide solutions within their various ecosystems thereby converting knowledge into a bank alert.  That is why it is advisable for young people and tech enthusiasts to attend events and meetups of this magnitude so as to learn what is new in the tech industry and to effectively key into the future through meetups like the coming event.

As at yesterday, Dr. Amina was looking for a comfortable venue with a capacity of not less than 500 people, VIP section, launch break, good sound system, good internet coverage, etc.  My mind quickly raced to an event if we had been able to #save_Ibom_Science_Park.  Then Akwa Ibom would have hosted the entire major players in the tech industry in Nigeria within an environment that is purely dedicated for such activities. Most importantly, all the novices attending the event would have happily continued their stay at the park to collaborate, learn and explore the opportunities technology offers in the 21st century. A major leap in the fight against unemployment.

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