Your Excellency the (Deputy) Governor, distinguished guests, Ernest and Margaret, partners, and friends, I am honored to be with you for the dedication of the Magvoile Vocational Center. I am delighted to see all of you here today to help mark this momentous occasion and celebrate the dedication and hard work of both Ernest and Margaret. As many of you can attest, this center is changing lives of many people in this community and for Nigeria as a whole.
I can think of nothing more important than investing in young people across Nigeria and your aims to bridge the divide between those with skills and those without will help Nigeria develop the jobs necessary for its young people. Too often, these are the people who are most forgotten in society, but not here. All too often, young people see themselves with few prospects, see no future in their countries, and are more likely to embark on the dangerous route of migrating to Europe, joining militant groups, or engaging in criminal activities. You are helping break that cycle and together, you are helping boost the pride of your participants – pride in themselves and pride in a job well-done.
Building this vocational center has been a labor of love for Ernest and Margaret. It started as a dream of two people who together wanted to provide opportunities to their community. Recognizing that too often young women are excluded from skills training, Magvoile has focused intensive efforts to train young women in this community. They have established a variety of training programs offering marketable skills to young women and other disadvantaged groups. Not content to simply providing skills, they have gone a step further to give their participants the information and training necessary to build a small business.
I think everyone knows that the demographic predictions estimate that the population of the continent will double between now and 2050 and 75 percent of those people will be under the age of 25. Nigeria already faces a very youthful population and everyone hopes for meaningful employment and an improved quality of life. A crucial element of this is developing skills and a means to enter the workforce….stand on one’s own two feet so that not only their own future is improved, but that of their families.
I am proud to share this moment with you today, but I also want to use it as a call to action for everyone here. I encourage you to reach into your community and be a role model for others. Use your own expertise and passion to mentor people in your neighborhoods, schools, churches, and mosques. Become a part of the social fabric of Nigeria. Maybe then, some of the Magvoile students will stitch it all together to create an amazing tapestry for the future of Nigeria.