We need to train more job creators than job seekers — Okeke Chibueze, CEO, GoldLeaf78

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When Okeke Chibueze, founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GoldLeaf78 Global Resources, finished his university education in 2017, he was confronted with the big question: What next?

With an earlier resolve not to seek jobs upon graduation, he had a tough time coping the harsh economic situation in the country, with little or no fund available to pursue several ideas he had.

He was in a spin.

“Long ago, I had made up my mind never to apply for jobs after graduation, so it was tough being without a job, having ideas of what I want to do but not being able to do so due to lack of funds,” he told CRISPNG.

With determination, however, the graduate of Archaeology and Tourism from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) in Enugu State, is closing in on his dreams at the tick of every second.

In this explosive interview, he talks about his drive to add value to the society, youths and leadership in Nigeria among others.

Let’s get to know you more

I am a Content Creator, Fitness Instructor, Digital Marketer, Massage Therapist, Public Speaker, Business Development Expert, Entrepreneur and a Foodie. Laughs.

How did GoldLeaf78 Global Resources come about?

GoldLeaf was the originally intended name, a name that was inspired before I was 18 and I held dear to it until 2017 after graduation when it was officially registered as a business name. It was at the point of registration that the need for a suffix came in and I had to add 78, a code that identifies me.

Tell us more about GoldLeaf78, particularly what you stand for

Before registration, I had many business ideas I’d delve into but then there were no funds. So after I had registered he business name, how to raise funds for my ideas was a challenge. Thus, I was not sure where to start from.

Thus, I started with marketing for already existing companies but due to some hitches like breach of contracts, delay in fulfillment of promises among others, I gave up on marketing for other companies.

Soon afterwards, the ideas of setting up a massage centre came up and that was the beginning of things I could call my own.

As at today, GoldLeaf78 is standing on four pillars which are Massage Therapy, Fitness and Body Building, Laundry, Sales of Laptops and Phones. We are delving into other sectors which will become clearer as time goes on

You have been an advocate of good governance and youth inclusion in Nigerian leadership landscape in several of your posts. What is your assessment of youths in the country?

The average Nigerian youth is strong, resilient, hardworking, smart and progressive. I make bold to say we have conquered many grounds despite the unavailability of enabling environment.

In the music industry, the Nigerian youths have so worked hard that other countries look up to us for inspiration, motivation and direction. Already established artistes keep signing in upcoming ones to their record labels, thus giving them platforms on which to shine forth.

Techology wise, Nigerians are bringing up inventions and innovations every year. From drones to applications and softwares, from fuel-less generators to generators that run on water, to machines that turn nylons to fuel. We have continued to provide technological solutions to our daily needs despite the fact that little or nothing comes from the government (both at state and federal levels) in the form of support or encouragement.

Last November, I met with some secondary school children who invented a mosquito-repellent paint. They were seeking funding or partnership to help aid mass production. The paint lasts for two years and as such, you are sure mosquitoes will not come into your room even if you leave your windows open.

A lot of us are building businesses, creating jobs for ourselves and those around us instead of waiting for jobs from the government or anyone else. From buying and selling to mini Importation, to Forex and cryptocurrency trading, even to skill-based businesses.

It would be unjust to assume we are all good or bad. Obviously there are few bad eggs amongst us (just as you have in every society) who get into fraud, dishonest and unethical means of making money either because of the hunger for quick wealth or because of frustration.

However, before we condemn these ones or generalize their attitudes as those of the whole youths in Nigeria, it is important we ask ourselves some pertinent questions:
1. What have I done to help the situation?
2. Am I sure I did not make these youths who they are directly or indirectly?
3. What opportunities have I created to enable them use these talents of theirs for something good instead?

The average Nigerian youth is strong, resilient, hardworking, smart and progressive. I make bold to say we have conquered many grounds despite the unavailability of enabling environment.

Looking at Nigeria, the unemployment situation is worsening at the thick of every second. The government is claiming most of the graduates are unemployable. On the other hand, the youths are claiming there are no opportunities. What do you make of the situation?

They are both correct. Our youths, the kind of youths our universities dish out into the society, are unemployable. There are few opportunities in relation to the number of persons seeking them. Thus the need to train more job creators than job seekers

Now let me make it clearer.
The youths are unemployable because the school system has been training 21st century students for the 18th century life. Those managing our educational system have refused to update their curriculum and lessons to fit into the demands of the modern day society. At such, we are still graduating students who are only fit for the Industrial Age.

How do you expect a student to be employable when a course like COS 101 which is supposed to introduce an undergraduate to Computer Studies is done 100% on the workbook? As far as you buy the workbook and fill in the gaps like a Nursery one pupil, you’re sure of passing the course. I’ll try hard not to talk about others so I do not bore you. The truth is, a lot of outdated information is poured into the brains of the students who are also expected to pour them out into the exam sheets and then get crowned with an academic degree only for them to get into the society and find out that it is a different life entirely

On the part of opportunities, technology is taking over so many things that humans once did, and no one is preparing the youths for this. Thus, available opportunities keep reducing every minute while we graduate thousands or millions of students every year. This is why the course on entrepreneurship in various universities need to be critically looked into. It shouldn’t be all about copying and submitting business plans or filling workbooks like we were made to do. If the University system can develop a business incubation centre for students where they come to develop and build their business ideas, and then with the support of the University, they source for funding, it would only take few years for us to establish some economic giants in the country, thus creating jobs and at the same time, a source of income for the university too.

The University of Nigeria has something like this which she named Roar Hub, however there is a limitation as it is only for tech-related ideas. There should be an incubation centre for non tech-related ideas too to survive.

There are many students among us today with groundbreaking ideas which, if funded, can create thousands of jobs for the teeming population of unemployed youths in the country.

The youths are unemployable because the school system has been training 21st century students for the 18th century life.

Using your own experience, do you think there are job opportunities in Nigeria?

Yes there are opportunities in Nigeria. Opportunities to thrive, opportunities to achieve great feats. But then, the number of persons competing for these opportunities are so much that it seems there are none.

Also, the enabling environment isn’t there. We do not have factors and policies on ground to encourage job creators. Thus, everyone seems to be looking up to the government which is totally out of touch with the people. In developed nations, the government focuses on making policies and enforcing them while private individuals and corporate bodies compete on creating jobs for the people by building businesses.

In Nigeria, we are more concerned with politicking and the religious and tribal differences that has kept us bound to the ground for years so much that we have no time for the real governance.

Today, what we know as youth empowerment is giving out money to hungry youths who will automatically become your sycophants and praise singers. None of these elected officers is thinking about creating a sustainable opportunity for his people or establishing industries to employ them. Opportunities stare us in the face everywhere we go, but we pass them by because we are too selfish to think of planting trees we will not sit under their shades.

There many people calling for youth inclusion in politics as a quick fix to the leadership crisis in the country. Do you belong to this school of thought?

I think we have experimented the older generation enough since 1960 when we got our independence and I strongly believe this is the right time to give the youths a chance.

After all, those that make up the older generation today were youths when they first led the country. This does not in any way imply we won’t be needing the older ones any more. Their wealth of experience would be of great importance to the youths coming on board, not as godfathers though.

However, I also propose that there should be a drastic disconnect between the ideologies these older men have thus far propagated and the ones the younger generation will be coming on board with.

This is especially in the lucre for sordid gains and instant wealth at the point of getting into office. While we want the younger generation to come on board, I am saddened by the kind of leaders they will make when given the opportunity. For instance, a man who spent one year as a Student Union Government (SUG) President of his university and can not point at one achievement of his days in office, instead, it is on record that over N4 million could not be accounted for by him; what do you expect of that man if he becomes a governor of his state tomorrow?

Or the one who gets a budget of N3 million for a trip to New York only to come back and become a puppet who can no longer defend the interest of his fellow students because his mouth has been sealed by that gift of a trip abroad.

There are many examples of youths who have abused the small power given to them that, at times, you wonder if it is not better remaining with the older generation. After all, the devil you know, as they say, is better than the angel you don’t know

Truly, we want youths on board, sensible and progressive youths, not youths who will keep licking the feet of anyone that gives them money in the name of youth empowerment. Thus, I check the track record of every youth who declares his intentions for any political position. What has he done? Which offices has he occupied? How did he handle them? What did he do when he was made to choose between those that elected him and his personal comfort? These and more are questions we should ask before choosing a youth for any political position

There are few opportunities in relation to the number of persons seeking them. Thus the need to train more job creators than job seekers

What advice to you have for youths in Nigeria?

To the undergraduates, please while you go through the university, do well to let the university go through you. Look out for opportunities to become financially independent. The best time to train yourself in this regard is while you’re a student and can easily call home when you’re choked. Learn a skill or two. Do business, make mistakes and learn from them. Life on campus should be all encompassing, so do not limit yourself in any way.

To the graduates, do your best to learn a skill if you don’t have any. Have your eyes on providing solutions to the needs around you instead of whining and complaining. If you’re on a job, do well to make the most of it. Give it your best, learn as much as you can and, if you can, work towards owning your own business. If you cannot, work your way up the corporate ladder.
After all, if everyone becomes a job creator who will handle the jobs created.

To those in business, do your best not to be a local champion. Expand, grow beyond your immediate environment. Have your eyes on the big picture and think of others too, others who can be gainfully employed by you.

To those who are into criminal activities, you’re hurting those of us who are doing our best to live right. Let’s get back to the right track. Together let’s build something sustainable and which we can be proud to hand over to our children.

Finally, let us find something doing. If we are engaged with something productive, we wont be moved by whatever a politician offers us to use us for his selfish gains. Let love lead. Let peace be our watchword. Be and do to others what you would have them be and do to you.

To those who are into criminal activities, you’re hurting those of us who are doing our best to live right.

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you so much friend. It is exciting to see young men take up the challenge of self employment. I am particularly impressed by your efforts. You will go places!

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