Gov Makinde can set the pace again–Ajani

A former Director-General of Oyo State Liaison Office in Lagos and Abuja, Engineer Wale Ajani speaks with journalists recently and x-rays youths development among other issues. Excerpts

Are you not worried about the rate at which our youth are derailing and what do you think can be done to reverse the dangerous trend?

I will start with the issue of value in our youth. We always believe that when you always go to church or mosque you actually know God but going to church and mosque is just a religion. Values are from homes. Unfortunately, with the kind of value system we are running now, fathers and mothers don’t have time for the children anymore. You will even see young ladies whose mothers would say, “Look at your mates who are making money. You can’t bring anything on the table. They are thinking that because you are a fine girl, you should go and do anything. It is a serious issue. The value is missing at home. It is the responsibility of parents. You should not wait for teachers to help you train your children. I told my son that if I knew what I know now, I would not buy that car then. It wouldn’t have been my priority. I told him this when he was 10 years old. Some of us would not tell our boys these things. I would call my boys and say come, let’s talk about masturbation, cultism etc. they need to know them before one friend will lie to them and introduce them to wrong group. Teachers are just doing their best. You see what some students do; they drink and do all sorts of things. When my son told me he wanted to have a necklace on, the question that I asked him was that what value would the chain add to you? For me, value is key but we are losing it day by day. Parents have the responsibility while pastors would preach it. It is not what they preach on the pulpit but what you say to your children.

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Are you not bothered that we don’t have apprentices like mechanic and bricklayers. Our youth are not training in these key vocations any longer? How do you feel as the government is not regulating things; everybody is just riding okada?

On apprenticeship, I want to use Oyo State as my focus. I developed a platform called ‘Anywork 24/7.’ This is it, you want an handi worker and you cannot guarantee anyone who can do it well. Now, let’s create a platform where we can get accredited and verifiable handi workers. But alas, most of the handi workers are half baked. They are not being trained using the current technique. A member of my church once came and said that he does kaftan. I told him to go and make one for me. By the time he brought it, it was zigzag. I said I couldn’t wear this. Apprenticeship is key but we need to have relevant skill and equipment. We need to have in place a vocational centre set up and funded by government but managed by a consultant. We can have different latest equipment to ease life for the serious artisans. Just come for three months. The state can do that. We have the Board of Technical and Vocational Education. Some of those we say are not doing well, it is not just that they are not doing well but the equipment they are using are not that of the 21st Century. But if the government decide that if you have job to do, you can come and use it for one or two hours, you won’t come here and be wasting time cos of limited time and electricity will be available 24/7. Within two hours, if it is two dresses that you are able to make, you can book for another two hours at another time until you are able to get your own money to buy your own machine. I think that is core for Oyo State because we have more artisans. If we can send our tilers in Oyo State on skill training, nobody would go to Benin Republic and all road will lead to Oyo State. I am certain that Gov Makinde can set the pace again under the sustainable development agenda.

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Can you tell us your defining moment in politics?

My defining moments in politics are many but if not for politics, I won’t sit down with the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria. As President of the Nigerian Youth Council, I don’t know how many young persons of my age then that had opportunities to enter the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as much as I did. It might not look like an achievement, but I had a boss, a senior professional colleague the day he was meeting the President, he was shaking with all his money.  I had been privileged to speak at different platforms locally, regionally and nationally, so there is nothing that would scare me from talking to great people. I have plenty defining moments but my most defining moments are when I talk to the president of Nigeria and presidents from other countries on behalf of young people. Many people might not like Mugabe, but he was my friend.

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