“Today, we are witnessing the very first tangible manifestation of the transformative power of the IVTEC vision….that by providing people the opportunities to acquire technical, real-world skills that can lead directly to a career, we can effectively combat unemployment and poverty, thereby moving the largest number of Nigerians from poverty to prosperity in the shortest time possible”.
These words sum up the vision and mission of the IVTEC as envisaged by governor Abdulfatah Ahmed. For those who doubted the sincerity and possibilities inherent in the project, the graduation of some 291 students from the school again last week should make for assurances that this is one project that will continue to be a reference point in the history of our country and our dear state of Kwara. The graduating students have acquired modern vocational skills in automotive mechatronics, Masonry, Furniture and Cabinet Making, CCTV, Web Application, System Security and Networking, Computer Hardware, Electrical Installation and Maintenance, Catering and Culinary Service, HVAC, Welding and Fabrication, Building Construction, System Security and Networking and other vital vocational skills.
In his remarks at the ceremony an obviously elated Ahmed declared: “Your newly-acquired skills also place you in a strong position to take advantage of the extensive business and employment opportunities available to you. Indeed, the quality of the training you have received here at IVTEC was driven by global standards and a curriculum designed in partnership with the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA). These initiatives place you in good stead to secure employment or set up successful businesses of your own” “Being a proactive administration”, governor Ahmed declared, “we recognised the dearth of critical vocational skills and established IVTEC to provide business-relevant training as a reliable pathway out of unemployment and a means of economic empowerment. We also offer IVTEC as a way of getting more youths employed and minimising the risk of their involvement in criminal activity, insurgency and other social vices.”
Governor Ahmed advised Kwara youths to think outside the box and take their destinies in their hands by exploring areas where there are opportunities for their survival. He asked them to read biographies of successful entrepreneurs businessmen like Aliko Dangote, Otedola, Bill Gates and others who filled indentified gaps and rose from grass to grace.
In his words, Rector of the College, Dr Adekunle Somide whose words I used in opening this piece presented us with untold stories behind the success of the school, each aspect of which had a touch of Ahmed’s visionary leadership.
Listen to him: “We are celebrating with you (students) today because somebody created the perfect opportunity that made it possible. So, it is a great day for us in IVTEC to also celebrate the heroic contributions and sacrifices by that somebody who orchestrated the perfect set of circumstances that led to your being here this afternoon, and for others who will undoubtedly come after you. On behalf of the IVTEC Congregation, I would like to pay tribute to His Excellency, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed for his uncommon leadership.
“We all know that theories of leadership abound, especially in the literature on social psychology. Today, I am proposing yet another. To me, good leadership involves three key ingredients, which I call my three R’s of Leadership: Relationships, Resilience and Results. In order words, a leader must know his people/his constituents, their aspirations, capabilities, challenges, needs, etc. He must then embody the contexts fully. It is only then that he/she will be able to come up with the type of vision they can in turn identify with, as well as be able to build and sustain winning relationships to help him actualize that vision.
“But simply having the vision to improve the people’s condition does not necessarily confer leadership credentials. The leader must have the resilience necessary to follow through when obstacles inevitably threaten to derail the vision. Finally, he/she must delivery that vision which had been laid out. This is the results in the three R’s of leadership.
“Governor Ahmed is the phototypical leader in that he epitomizes these qualities. The record of this administration over the past seven and a half years is replete with evidence of the three R’s of leadership in action. So, I wouldn’t waste time on all of the achievements of this administration. That story will be told in due course. But please permit me to buttress my point with the story of IVTEC. Here you will see how Governor Ahmed provides us a compelling profile in courageous leadership in the execution and delivery of IVTEC.
‘Firstly, Governor Ahmed identified a nagging problem in our country. Rising level of poverty among the youth. Then he proffered a solution, which he called IVTEC. It turns out his solution actually solves multiple problems for Nigeria in one fell swoop! It fixes the youth poverty and unemployment problem, by raising the living standards of Nigerians. IVTEC revamps the once neglected Technical and vocational education sector in Nigeria and provides skilled workforce needed to drive Nigerian economic growth and competitiveness in the 21st Century. This is brilliant! It really makles you wonder why no one ever thought of that until now!
“Well to make IVTEC happen, you need people. So, Governor Ahmed proceeded to build the relationships necessary to get the job done. In his quest for standard and quality, he put together the best minds here in Nigeria. His first point of call was KP3 which he also created. Through KP3 (Kwara public private partnership bureau), our Governor searched for best practices in Technical and Vocational Education, TVET, all over the world. He personally led a team to the world Bank and the City & Guilds international. He spent a week on a study tour of a technical and vocational college in the U.S that has been in existence for 108 years. Some of us in this auditorium went on that tour with him. There, he immersed himself in whole value chain of TVET – Curriculum, equipment and tools in various trades, roles of industry, government, strategy for attracting and retraining faculty, students, and impacts of the college in regional and national economies.
“No sooner had he started implementation than obstacles and challenges started to appear left and right, threatening to derail and kill the vision. Well, our Governor showed that he has the resilience, the “nothing-can -stop-me attitude”, and held on to the vision. In the end, he delivered IVTEC. Today, he remains our staunchest promoter and supporter, all to ensure that this college not only survives but thrives. That, to me is the results in my 3 R’s of leadership”. That was the summary of the IVTEC rector.
The Olupo of Ajase-Ipo, Oba Sikirullahi Atanda Sanni expressed gratitude to the governor for the establishment of the college and called on well-to-do individuals and organisations to sponsor youths to acquire skills at the college for overall growth and development. As the administration of governor Ahmed takes the final bend to its terminal date it is clear that IVTEC would be one of those legacies that Kwarans will use to remember him.
Thus while acknowledging that the school has become a success story, the governor noted there is still much work to do if Nigeria is to meet the economy’s demand for vocational skills and boost youth employment and therefore tasked the federal government “to prioritise technical training as a reliable tool for arresting the worrying scourge of youth unemployment, reducing the prospects of youth enrolment into violent acts such as insurgency and as a means of stimulating the economy through informal sector development.”
And the clincher: “We offer IVTEC and its accomplishments as models that other governments can emulate.”As they say, if you know, you know.
*Oba can be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org