The director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, has challenged Nigerian universities to devote greater attention to entrepreneurship training to produce graduates that will create job opportunities, not job seekers.
Abdullahi made this call while receiving the management of the Federal University of Agriculture Zuru, Kebbi, under the leadership of its vice chancellor, Prof. Musa Isyaku Ahmed, when he led the management of the varsity on a visit to the NITDA headquarters in Abuja.
The NITDA boss described the university’s role in finding a lasting solution to Nigeria’s unemployment as “critical”, given the large number of young people graduating annually.
“I urge you to continue to emphasise entrepreneurship training so that graduates will be able to become job creators, instead of job seekers.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has the passion for job creation, diversifying our economy, moving from being a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based and digital economy. For Nigeria to achieve that, we need to have the human capital and our population is the greatest resource,” he added.
He said most of the people graduating from the universities are becoming a liability to the country because they look and wait for jobs. Why do we not start producing people that will create jobs? To do that you have to start from the universities.
“Universities can be used as mentoring, training and coaching grounds for students, encouraging them to start their own business while in school,” he stated.
Commenting on NITDA’s National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) programme, Abdullahi stated that it was an initiative of the agency designed to support young, Nigerian farmers passionate about making careers out of farming.
“Firstly, we all need to eat to survive. How can we increase our products and use technology to change the way we farm? How can we make it fancier, so that these young graduates can also embrace farming as a career?”
NITDA, he said, has concluded arrangements to engage universities’ research works practically on the farms to achieve the set goal.
“This year, we are going to re-strategise and work with universities’ research institutions. Most of their works end on the shelves; now, we want to convert them to research and move into the farm to experiment,” added.
Earlier, Ahmed said they were at the agency’s corporate headquarters on a familiarisation visit to further see for themselves things they have been seeing and hearing about NITDA’s impactful interventions in so many sectors, particularly the tertiary institutions.
The don informed the gathering that the Federal University of Agriculture Zuru is the only university that came into being from a Bill by the National Assembly and was assented to by the President as the agric-based, which came on board during the lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the newly established institution has as its mandate, the injection of entrepreneurship and IT into its curriculum.
While soliciting the collaborative support of NITDA in its intervention programmes, he also called for a paradigm shift in the nation’s education system.
“We are aware of NITDA’s fingerprints in many Nigerian tertiary institutions. We are soliciting for same for our newly established institution,” he reasoned.