(By Rise Networks)

In your own space, find your own dream. Use time, Technology and take advantage of every Idea and Opportunity given to you. Also take the little details and work with them. Make a change.

In a move to build the capacity of young Nigerians towards embracing radical change and innovation in preparation for the diversification of Nigeria’s Economy, the HANDS ON SKILLS Initiative was conceived. Following the successes recorded in Owerri and Umudike, the 6th edition of the Rise National Youth Forum (Benin Session) was held on the 27th of March, 2014 at the Main Auditorium, Benson Idahosa University, Benin, Edo State and it was indeed an educative, interactive and life transforming event.

The event which took place at the school’s Main  Auditorium had over 1,000 participants in attendance.

The event which was tagged “Nigeria Beyond oil” with the aim of making Nigerian youths see the need to embrace vocational skills instead of waiting for the unavailable white collar jobs, was graced by five Dynamic Change Agents that included: Hon Abdul S. Oroh, Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Edo State Government; Yemi Keri, Managing Director of the Edo State Information Communications Technology Agency (ICTA); Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, Director, Screen Writer, and Film Producer, Oremeyi Akah,  Country Manager, Verve/Interswitch and Mai Atafo, Creative Director, Mai Atafo Inspired . Also Present at the event was Oseni Elamah, Chairman, Edo Inland Revenue Service.

All the speakers that spoke at the event all agree on one point namely, to create more wealth and job, the youth must think beyond oil and explore opportunities in other sector.

The speakers took to the stage to deliver excellent lectures explaining  the need for every Nigerian youth to embrace vocational skill as the solution to the current unemployment menace ravaging Nigeria’s Economy.


Guest Speakers From L – R (MTN Rep Ms. Kemi, Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, Hon. Abdul Oroh, Toyosi Akerele (CEO Rise Networks), Yemi Keri, Oseni Laman, Oremeyi Akah and Mai Atafo)

Hon. Abdul Oroh spoke on the topic “AGRICULTURE AS A VIABLE BUSINESS FOR SUSTAINABLE JOB CREATION IN NIGERIA.”, In his speech, he talked about the importance of Agriculture – explaining the challenges, opportunities that come with venturing into the Agro Business. He also stated that government has signed memorandum of understanding with different companies to invest in agricultural sector. He however charged the Youths to embrace Agriculture as a business by using Technology to their advantage in becoming successful Entrepreneurs.

Oseni Laman who was the Second Speaker spoke on “CITIZENSHIP, LEADERSHIP AND EDUCATION” In his speech, he made the youths realize that oil is not the greatest asset of our Nigeria. Our country needs to create jobs for her populace so that we can lead other world economy. In a country where people are not able to take ownership of their own development they become Prisoners of War. He charged the Youths not to take laws into their hands based on the fact that they have not been rewarded from the Nations only source of Income. He went further by stating the efforts of the Government in empowering the Youths and eradicating Unemployment  through the introduction of Skill Acquisition Programmes and provision of soft loans for Small Scale Businesses.


Oseni Elamah, Chairman, Edo Inland Revenue Service, delivering his lecture at the RNYF Benin Session at BIU

The Third Speaker Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen spoke on the topic ” DEEPER KNOWLEDGE AND STRUCTURES AS DRIVERS FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF NIGERIA’S ENTERTAINMENT SECTOR”  In his lecture, Mr Lancelot said that for change to occur, we need a system that will give the Youths Amenities to empower themselves. Taking Edo State as a case study, there is no Economic blueprint that can be fashioned out for Edo State without looking at the Entertainment Sector. The Oil of Edo State is Art and Culture. With United Nations estimating Nollywood to be worth about 500 Million Dollars, our expectations as Nigerians should be how to expose our Entertainment Sector into an Export Commodity. On a final note, he charged Youths to take advantage of the various opportunities that abound in the Entertainment Sector which ranges from Script Writing, Photography, Editing, Make-up Artist and so on.

The Fourth Speaker, Yemi Keri spoke on the topic “OPEN AND CONNECTED: OPPORTUNITIES, CASE STUDIES AND LESSONS IN NIGERIA’S TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS” She analyzed Technology as the state to Empower youth. She cited the cases of how young men and women have used Technology to provide solution to visible problems in their communities citing examples of  the following ICT Businesses: Wakaman, Paga, Konga. com, Facebook,OLX, Apple, etc. According to her, these individual identified a problem, used ICT to solve this problem and made a fortune doing so.

The Fifth Speaker, Oremeyi Akah spoke on the topic “SME GROWTH, BEST PRACTICES AND THE RIGHT TOOLS OF TRADE IN THE DIGITAL AGE” Mrs Akah charged the Youths saying they have to be committed to a dream and run with the dream to see it accomplished. She went further by saying, if you add value to your dream, money will find you. When you have passion, resources will locate you. In encouraging the  Youths to be Indigenous and relevant to Nigeria she had this to say “in your own space, find your own dream. Use Time, Technology and take advantage of every Idea and Opportunity given to you. Also, take the little details and work with them. Make a change.”

cross section

Cross-Section of Participants at the 6th RNYF Programme (Benin Session)

Mai Atafo who was the Final Speaker spoke on “SOCIAL INNOVATION AS KEY DRIVER FOR NIGERIA’S GARMENT PRODUCTION / FASHION SECTOR” Mr Atafo, said many Youths are complacent, they do not know or want to learn more. Stating that commitment and hard work is what pays off at the end of the day. He cited example of Alhaji Aliko Dangote using Nigerians to create Wealth. He said it is good for Youths to believe in themselves but they must always ask themselves if they are good at what they are about venturing into. He went further by stating that every Business starts by thinking to solve a problem that exists. People started Ideas by one singular problem and today they make a lot of money from it. If you have an idea, work with a business plan and you will get the right funding. He ended his lecture with a parting shot saying – “Do not let what your eyes can see, obstruct what your mind can see.”

A raffle draw was organised by the lead sponsor (MTN) of the event where three lucky individuals emerged and walked away with a Laptop and Internet Moderm each.


MTN team, Rise Networks Team and the Three Lucky Raffle Draw Winners with their Laptops and Internet Modems 

Miss Toyosi Akerele, CEO Rise Networks ended the session by charging the students to be a Productive Generation. In her words ” We should not be like the older Generation who handed Generators to us instead of stable Electricity and sleep in National Forums” She thanked everyone for participating and the forum was officially brought to an end.