‘This Initiative Will Spark Industrial Revolution In Southeast’

Mrs. Uche Chukwu is the Centre Manager of the Technology Incubation Centre Nnewi, Anambra State. In this interview with CHUKS NWANNE, the former staff of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO)said the empowerment programme will spark industrial revolution in the entire southeast.

How did this skill acquisition initiative come about?
Well, this is not the first time we presented a proposal like this to the Anambra State government; we also presented similar proposal to the former administration in Imo State. But maybe, they didn’t see the need to embark on it. When the Willie Obiano-led administration came onboard in Anambra State, we represented the proposal, and the governor was enthusiastic about the idea; he made it work.

What was the reception initially?
Initially, when people heard of the programme, some of them thought it was one of those ‘political projects.’ But I’m always encouraged when I see the zeal, the commitment of these students; you will know that they are really hungry for knowledge. When we made that pronouncement and 500 youths registered, the thinking then was that, by the time we will be executing the project, maybe we will be getting about 200. But there’s no day that we don’t record over 400-attendance here. At the end of the day, this project it will spring up a lot of industries in the state.

Aside from skill acquisition, a project like this is expected to address youth restiveness. To what extent has this programme gone in achieving that?
When you are talking about youth restiveness, assuming these 500 persons are not here, what will they be doing those three times in a week? They leave here by 4pm and once they are out, they head home to rest. So, indirectly, you’ve engaged the person for the whole week, because the only remaining few days, he/she will be thinking of better things. I’m really encouraged with what they are doing, because sometimes, after teaching them, without even talking about practical, they try to practicalise what they were taught.

A lot of people have shown concern about the dearth of qualified artisans in the country, how will this programme address such challenge?
In fact, we are very worried. What you mentioned now is the area that the commissioner wants people to be trained. In the first phase of our building technology skill that we had, we included tiling, POP work and so on under it. Despite the fact that we are also teaching them architectural drawing, we are also teaching them the technical aspect of it. Today in Anambra, if you need a good job, you either look for Togolese or you get someone from Lagos. At the end of the day, the money is going back to Lagos and not retained in the state. Usually, the students come here Mondays and Tuesdays; on Wednesdays, we take them out to site to practicalise what they’ve learnt.

How will this project impact the economy of the state?
For instance, if you have about 300 of these people establishing their industries, you get job creation and everything. Definitely, they will employ at least one person each; you see the multiplier effect. Apart from that, you will be adding value to our raw materials, because most of these skills will involve the use of our raw materials. I believe this project will spark industrial revolution in the Southeast In the history of Anambra State, this is the very first time we are having something like this and I believe that other state will key into it.

How important is science and technology to present day Nigeria?
In the past, we’ve neglected science and technology and I believe it’s one of the challenges we are facing in this nation. If you have been listening towards the later part of last year and the beginning of this year, you must have heard the state governor talking about industrial revolution. You find that there’s no way you can talk about it without talking about science and technology; that’s the bedrock. First of all, you have to make sure that this aspect is properly handled because that’s one thing that will spring up industrial revolution. There’s nothing you can do without science and technology.

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