Former Vice President of Nigeria and 2019 Presidential hopeful, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has technically called for system change in the way and manner Nigerian graduates are only churned out to seek for paid jobs, rather than being either self employers or employers of labour.
Speaking at InterContinental Hotel in Lagos after receiving the Honourary Achiever Award at the Africa’s Youth Entrepreneurs Conference and Award titled ‘A Stand With The Giants’, he decried that the products of current educational system do not know how to do anything else other than to seek for jobs, adding that they cannot self-employ themselves. “So, what I am trying to say is that my Nigeria is possible and your own Nigeria is possible,” he said.
Giving an insight on how he started his first business move in 1971, Abuabakar revealed that while serving at Idi-Iroko as a young trained Customs officer, he saw the flourishing business of transporting market women by Pickup van along the order and invested in it by acquiring four pick-up vans under a hire-purchase agreement with SCOA to start a transport business in Lagos.
He said “I came to Lagos on June 29, 1969 and after my two years training (with the Nigeria Customs Service); I was posted to the border station of Idi-Iroko. At that time, the Badagry Road had not been constructed and the only means of transportation to the rest of the West African corridor was through the Idi-Iroko border to what used to be called Dahomey and what is now known as Benin Republic.
“On getting to Idi-Iroko, my first posting, I was not married and what I discovered was that the most promising business was transportation. Many pickup vans were transporting women traders from Ajase (Port Novo) to Lagos every morning, and every evening from Lagos back to Port Novo.
“So I asked myself, how I can seize the opportunity of this moving business. I came over to Lagos and in those days SCOA were the sole distributors of Peugeot, so I went to SCOA and I signed a hire-purchase agreement and bought four of those pickups and gave them to four different drivers and every day they will bring their returns to me and at the end of the month, I will go to SCOA and pay them.
“I wasn’t married, so my salary was intact and in addition I was saving from what I was getting from my transport business. So, sometime, to be an entrepreneur you must have the ingenuity to be an entrepreneur.”
According to him, Nigeria’s education system in the early 1960s provided the Nigerian youths opportunities to make diverse carrier choice.
“The educational system we operated in the First Republic provided our students then the opportunity to either go to universities or go to technical colleges or to go to crafts schools. There was never a dropout in that kind of educational system. The dullest was trained on a skill and given the capital to start a business.”
Continuing, Atiku Abubakar lamented that “suddenly, Nigeria moved away from that to a system of education where you train only job seekers.”