THE Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Bottling Company Limited (NBC), Mr Matthieu Seguin, on Wednesday said the organisation remained passionate about the growth of Nigerian youth, especially given the current challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seguin made this known in a statement issued in Lagos, on his endorsement, alongside other corporate organisations, of the Nigeria Business League for Youth, a private sector initiative aimed at empowering youths.
Others that endorsed the initiative, according to the statement, include Mr Jordi Borrut Bel, CEO Nigerian Breweries Plc and Mr Oyeyimika Adeboye, CEO, Cadbury Plc, during the NBC’s 2020 Youth Summit held virtually with the theme, “Positioning for the New Global Economy”.
The Nigeria Business League for Youth is a private sector initiative spearheaded by the NBC to remove obstacles impeding opportunities for youths in the country, to enable them to succeed in their chosen career paths.
Announcing the initiative, Seguin said it reflected NBC’s commitment toward supporting the social and economic development of communities in which it operates.
He said 18,000 youths had been positively impacted through the Company’s Youth Empowered Program since 2017.
“At NBC, we pride ourselves in being a youth-focused organisation that is committed to the social and economic development of the Nigerian youth.
“The events of this year have made it imperative for us to have a relook at our approach toward the development and support of young Nigerians.
“Noting the great work that many corporate organisations are doing in the way of much needed interventions for youths, it became obvious that a consortium of efforts by network of private sector organisations will go a long way in addressing the issues.
“The Nigerian Business League for Youths will do this in alignment with the National Youth Policy which provides an all-inclusive framework to ensure the realisation of the full potential of Nigerian youths,” he said.
In his remarks, Mr Sunday Dare, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, charged youths to turn the current challenges into opportunities that guarantee employment and productivity.
Dare, who was also the keynote speaker at the summit, said his ministry had started recalibrating its youth-oriented initiatives to ensure the skill sets and support needed by youths to succeed now and post-COVID-19 were delivered.
He appealed for support from privileged citizens by creating a coalition to ensure swift and coordinated responses that go beyond meeting immediate needs through palliatives.
“Our youth are not a product but a resource to harness,” he said.
Also, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank Nigeria Plc, urged youths to reskill themselves for national development by adding vocational and entrepreneurial skills to academic knowledge.
Awosika, commending the NBC for holding the summit in spite of the current uncertainties due to the pandemic, reiterated that the era of relying on just academic knowledge was long gone.
Highlighting the importance of sustainable partnerships in empowering young people, she urged stakeholders to set up intervention funds as seed capital for start-ups and initiate a development plan to harness their ideas.
“We must equip and train our youth to have a mindset for business.
“The youth should also look at their role within an organisation with the eyes of a business owner.
“We should provide technical education, bring back the era of City & Guilds.
“We must plan to deliberately empower our youth, equip and train them to have a mindset for national development.
“It is not all about digital knowledge, it is about understanding the value-chain of businesses, harmonising skills, and strengthening partnership with passionate partners whose skills you don’t have but need to optimise business,” she said.
Also, Mr Jimi Tewe, Human Capital and Transformational Coach, stressed the importance of knowledge in navigating the current challenging times.
He highlighted green collar, blue-collar, digital economy, gig economy, renewable energy, distribution and supply chain, and education economy as the seven exploitable opportunities for youths in spite of the uncertainties of COVID-19.
“If you need a job, you need usable and applicable knowledge post-COVID because in every crisis lies the seed of opportunities.
“Decide not to be a listener but a doer; stay optimistic, be referable, ensure you add value to people, and provide proof of what you have created.
“This will make you thrive regardless,” he said.
Affirming Nigerian Breweries support for the Nigeria Business League for Youth, the company’s CEO, Mr Borrut Bel, lauded the NBC for the initiative and highlighted interventions for uplifting Nigerian youths.
“We are passionate about winning with Nigerians and winning with Nigerians means we understand that we are part of the society and this society is largely comprised of youths.
“This is a serious commitment from our own side as well and we are happy to join this league,” he said.
Also speaking, the MD of Cadbury Plc, Mr Oyeyimika Adeboye, said it was time the private sector worked with the government to secure the future of Nigerian youths.
“Our contribution from the private sector is to work with government and to partner with government to ensure that our youths are prepped for the future of Nigeria.
“So, our commitment as Cadbury Nigeria Plc is to work with various private sector enterprises to partner and help to develop our youths and we do this in various ways,” he said.
Mr Danladi Verhijer, MD of Verod Capital, represented by Mr Chigozie Ejimogu, pledged the firm’s commitment to ensuring the success of the Nigeria Business League for Youth initiative.
“We know this is an investment in Nigeria’s future. So, we are honoured to be part of this investment today and we will support solidly in any way we can,” he said.
– Sept. 29, 2020 @ 17:44 GMT