"What causes terrorism is disrespect, a lack of justice, and poverty"-Jodie Evans
Dr Tony O. Elumelu, Founder Tony Elumelu Foundation and Chairman UBA Group and Heirs Holdings charged everyone to join hands to lift Nigeria’s youth from poverty to prosperity. He made this statement while receiving an Honorary Doctor of Business (Hon D.B) degree by one of Nigeria’s foremost universities, Bayero University, Kano.
In a letter signed by the Vice Chancellor, this degree is being bestowed on Elumelu “in recognition of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, whose activities have reached every nook and corner of the nation – and the continent, and have impacted positively on many lives, making immense contributions to the African economy.”
Elumelu, one of Africa’s most prominent voices, called on Federal, State and Local Governments, wealthy Nigerians, development institutions and friends of Africa, to join hands to lift our young ones from poverty to prosperity by directly investing in them. To illustrate, he shared the impact story of the Tony Elumelu Foundation since 2015. “In five years, we have empowered 7250 entrepreneurs instead of the 5000 we would have done on our own, through the help of
development partners including the International Committee of the Red Cross, German Development Agency, GIZ, and the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP). Out of 7050 entrepreneurs empowered by the Foundation from all 54 African countries to date, Northern Nigeria is home to nearly 1000.” He continued, “And today, in recognition of the talent, creativity, and hard work that resides in the young people of this region, I am pleased to announce that the UNDP and the Foundation have deepened our partnership to empower an additional 1000 entrepreneurs from Northern Nigeria and the wider Sahel region. This speaks to the big ideas that exists in this region and is a direct intervention to lift thousands from poverty.”
In his acceptance speech, Elumelu emphasized the importance of collaboration between the public and private sector to create more jobs on the continent. According to him, “Our young people need jobs that governments and big corporates alone cannot provide. By promoting entrepreneurship, creating favourable policies and building infrastructure to help these entrepreneurs, we enable them to create jobs, and become employers of labour”.
Elumelu commended the declaration made by the President of Nigeria, H.E President Muhammadu Buhari on Nigeria’s Democracy Day to lift 100million lives out of poverty. He stated that job creation and entrepreneurship will help to achieve this goal.
Elumelu said: “There are a variety of ways to lift 100 million citizens from poverty, but two stand out. We can increase the number of jobs in the economy or we can create more opportunities for our young entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into small businesses that employ labour.”
He added: “By promoting entrepreneurship, creating favourable policies and building infrastructure to help these entrepreneurs, we enable them to create jobs, and become employers of labour”.
Elumelu has been an active advocate for entrepreneurship as the key to catalysing the economic development of Africa. He has achieved this through empowering African entrepreneurs in the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s flagship Entrepreneurship Programme. In 2010, Elumelu and his family committed $100million to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs in 10 years Half-way through the commitment, he has empowered 7,520 African entrepreneurs across 54 African countries who have received $5,000 non-refundable seed capital, access to mentors and an intensive 12-week business training; a commitment which the President in his address said enviably complements some of the government-led initiatives aimed at enhancing the capital base of small businesses.
During the conferment, the Dean, School of Postgraduate studies, Bayero University, Professor Umar Pate commended Elumelu’s commitment to lifting young Africans out of poverty. In his citation he spoke of Elumelu as “an illustrious son of Africa that has excelled at home and abroad, an economist that has empowered countless people through job creation and philanthropy, and a symbol of the African spirit of hope.”
Elumelu ended his speech by speaking on the importance of gender inclusion and a focus on quality healthcare and education to develop the over 60% of Africa’s population – the youth. “For Africa to avert a demographic catastrophe, and achieve sustainable growth, we must support gender inclusion, education, healthcare and entrepreneurship,” he said. “National prosperity can only come from widespread economic empowerment. This empowerment will come from inclusion, education, healthcare, and entrepreneurship.”
Other awardees were Senator Bello Hayatu-Gwarzo, LLD, Dr. Folake Solanke, the first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria, LLD and Prof. Abdulkadir Dangambo. Guests at the ceremony included HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Emir of Kano; H.E. General Yakubu Gowon, Former Head of State; Chief Alfred Papapreye Diete-Spiff, Chancellor Bayero University Kano; H.E. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje OFR, Governor of Kano State; and the visiting Vice Chancellors from over 25 Nigerian universities.
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