Keynote address delivered by the Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines, Obiora Okonkwo, Ph.D, at the National Summit on Igbo Apprenticeship with the theme organized by Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) in Awka on March 10, 2022
Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all to this epoch-making summit. I am particularly pleased with the array of intellectuals, industrialists, businessmen and women gathered here today. Your presence is a testament to the importance we all attach to the quest to get our youths productively engaged through apprenticeship. I am also very happy that what started as my modest effort at reinvigorating the apprenticeship system in Igboland has resonated with a wider audience like this and I want to specially thank Ozo Uche Nwora, the Managing Director of Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) and Awka Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (AwkaCCIMA), for convening this summit. The reawakened interest in reinvigorating Igbo Apprenticeship, particularly at this time, indicates that a lot more people are worried about the decay of Igbo society and the growing trend of joblessness and its attendant negative effects including indulgence in destructive drugs and all forms of crime. I, therefore, thank the organizers and sponsors of this event for bringing all of us together to brainstorm on how to revitalize this very ingenious wealth generation paradigm which has served the Igbo nation so well, particularly since the unfortunate events of the civil war. As is often said, the only thing constant in life is change and the Apprenticeship scheme has to evolve in the light of emerging realities.
The presentation is broken down into the following four Parts, even as some of the issues are interlinked:
- The Concept of Apprenticeship both in the broader industrial context and the Peculiar Igbo model
- My personal Connection to Onitsha Main Market and abiding interest in the Apprenticeship Scheme
- The UNIZIK Research on Invigorating the Apprenticeship Scheme: Key Findings and Recommendations
- The Imperative of Moral Regeneration as Panacea to the Challenges Facing the Apprenticeship Scheme and the Igbo Nation at Large: Rebuilding our Ethical Infrastructure as the Way Forward
The Concept of Apprenticeship
Before we proceed, it is necessary to first operationalize our key concept and there is arguably no better place to look than the International Labour Organization (ILO) which broadly defines Apprenticeship as a systematic long-term training for a recognized occupation taking place substantially within an undertaking or under an independent craftsman, governed by a written contract and subject to established standards.
In usually government regulated industry settings, apprenticeship training offers required skills through on the job training and/or classroom instruction to people desirous of working in the industry or those already in the industry who want to enhance their capacity/skills. At the end of such trainings, the apprentices earn industry recognized certification. For example, this is primarily the mandate of such agencies as The Industrial Training Authority (ITA) of Canada and its Nigerian counterpart, The Industrial Training Fund (ITF) which was established in 1971 to, among other things, ‘set, regulate training standards and provide need-based human capital development interventions….’; especially in the areas of skills acquisition.
In effect, industrial apprenticeship training offers the apprentices critical skills to enhance their employability or self-employment, for those with entrepreneurship mindsets.
However, as Au. Nonyelu and Chinedu Onyeizugbe explain, apprenticeship among the Igbo people of south eastern Nigeria- which is our primary concern here- “may commence and be consummated verbally through oral symbolic gestures supported by traditional and cultural ethos, not usually through written agreements or legal contracts”.
They go on to offer insight into the scheme thus: “in the Igbo apprenticeship scheme the trainer, Master or “Oga” as commonly called, and the trainee or “Nwa Boyi” (which highlights the gender nature of Igbo apprentices) as fondly called or “Nwa Odibo”, more pejoratively, enter into some loose kind of understanding with the full consent or support of the trainees’ parents or guardian. The bottom line is the tacit acceptance by the trainer to impart relevant knowledge to the trainee, and the trainee accepts willingly to learn the trade or business and dutifully serve his master. This training is usually for a period range of 4 – 7 years, and the age cohort of the apprentices is 13 – 25 years.” Recall that under this scheme, while the boys are on the apprenticeship scheme, girls of similar age are contracted out as domestic aides with possibilities of combining domestic work with education/empowerment schemes like tailoring, baking etc.
However, unlike the industrial apprenticeship system mentioned earlier, the Igbo apprenticeship scheme is as much about learning the skills of a particular trade or craft, as it is about inculcating the right values required to be a respected member of society- Ezi Afa Ka Ego (Good name is better than money) as our people often say.
The Igbo Apprenticeship Scheme, the foundation of the famed Igbo enterprise has a long history dating back to precolonial times. However, a combination of factorsduring the Nigerian Civil War, and its aftermath, provided the impetus for what some have called the massification of the apprenticeship Scheme. Such include the destruction of the means of livelihoods of most people and the resurgence of the communal spirit of solidarity and oneness.
This was the bedrock that saw young boys from very poor homes climb the social ladder, registering their presence of not only arrival, but also a vehicle for the transformation of others, who would have been forgotten as dregs of society.
Informed by such beliefs like Umunna Nwezue Aku (when wealth goes round) and Aku Luo Uno (Bring the wealth home), both of which have become popular traditional titles in Igbo land, along with Onye Aghana Nwanneya (be your brother’s keeper) philosophy, the apprenticeship scheme was largely a communitarian project aimed at spreading wealth with the recognition that in a community where only one person is rich, such a person is actually poor as the entire population would have depend on him. This is somewhat reminiscent of South Africa’s Ubuntu worldview (I am because you are), or as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King jnr. wrote in his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail ‘we are tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly’.
In its early stages, apprentices were usually selected from eligible family members (brothers, cousins, nephews etc.) but later spread to the broader community and more recently, inter-state.
All who are familiar with the apprenticeship scheme would readily attest to its immense role in lifting the Igbos out of the devastating impact of the civil war and their quick re-emergence as key players in the Nigerian economy, even if mostly in the informal sector.
The Igbo Apprenticeship Scheme and I: A Very Personal Connection
I am sure some of you may have been wondering why I was chosen to deliver the keynote at this event. The simple answer is that the apprenticeship scheme and the Onitsha Main Market hold a very special place in my heart as that was where I had my first stint in business, albeit briefly.
I was born in Gombe in December 1965 and was a baby in arms when my family, like all Igbos, fled the north as a result of the pogrom that ultimately led to the civil war. Following the war, my father, like every Igbo male, picked up the pieces and re-stablished himself at the Onitsha Main Market, specifically, at the Fancy Line, dealing on imported clothing materials like scarfs and George wrappers, and later moved to the Provision Line on Sokoto Street. Unfortunately, some years later when I was 14 years old, he took ill forcing me to combine my secondary school education with managing the business and his apprentices. That meant I went to school in the morning and continued at the Main Market in the afternoon. That basic trading experience, in many respects, helped hone my business instincts and also instilled in me a deep sense of industry and hard work that have defined my life’s journey to date.
Thus, when the UNIZIK Business School in July 2019 honoured me with the ‘Philanthropist of the Year Award’, it was only natural for me to try to give back by endowing a major research project on the future of Igbo entrepreneurship, drawing primarily from the role the iconic Onitsha Markets have played in the socio-economic transformation of the Igbo nation, particularly since the civil war; a phenomenon that best underscores the globally acclaimed ingenuity and indomitable spirit of our people.
The research project was expected to, among other things, critically interrogate Igbo entrepreneurship culture and the apprenticeship system around which it is historically built, with a view to reinventing it in the light of emerging realities. It may interest you to know that in 2017, the popular American Online media organization TED Talk hailed the Igbo business apprenticeship system as one of the greatest and most innovative Venture Capital schemes in the world. The apprenticeship scheme in its original model has, undoubtedly, served us well up to this point. However, the world of Commerce is drastically changing and we must reinvent the apprenticeship system to be responsive to the business and industrial needs of today, along with the skills acquisition and value chain such new processes require. Ladies and gentlemen, that was why I decided to sponsor the apprenticeship study through the Pro-Value for Humanity Foundation which I am the founder and chairman.
The research project titled Invigorating Igbo Entrepreneurial Behaviour through Enhanced Apprenticeship Scheme which was instituted at the Business School of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka took off in August 2020 with Prof. Au. N. Nonyelu as principal investigator. Members of his research team include Prof. Ezimma Nnabuife, Dr. Chinedu Onyeizugbe, Dr. Rosemary Anazodo and Dr. Blessing Onyima and others.
In inaugurating the study, I challenged the researchers to also work to identify emergent entrepreneurial and investment opportunities, including hi-tech and biotech start-ups with potential value chains that current generation Igbo entrepreneurs can key into to help drive the re-industrialization of Anambra State in particular and the south east in general. I also expressed hope that outcome of the study, if fully harnessed, will help put Anambra state and southeast in general, on a pre-eminent development pedestal that other states in the entire country will want to copy.
In his comment at the study inauguration, the lead researcher, Prof. Nonyelu, who is seated here said: “The study seeks to fill the vacuum, on the dearth of literature on non-western autochthonous ethnic entrepreneurs, and more pragmatically redirect the attention of policy makers on the need to provide enabling environment and support that shall reinvigorate and expand Igbo entrepreneurial culture through energized apprenticeship scheme. It is to arouse the attention of the government, private businessmen and women to bring back in a new context, the nostalgic Igbo entrepreneurial behaviour and apprenticeship scheme that were underlying drivers of the many success stories of renowned older Igbo business entrepreneurs.” Recall here that the story of Ekene Dili Chukwu Transport and Izuchukwu Transport, both successful transport companies, started with Ojukwu Transport. The founders of Ekene Dili Chukwu and Izuchukwu transport companies underwent apprenticeship under Sir Louis Ojukwu’s transport company.
Onitsha markets were chosen as the primary focus of the study in part because of my connection to it, but primarily because of the historic importance of the city as the commercial hub of eastern Nigeria, which offered our people their earliest engagements with European traders- first the Portuguese in the early to mid-18th century and later, imperial Britain (initially through the monopoly of the Royal Niger Company); in the closing years of the same century.
The consolidation of British political power in what became the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria pushed away the Portuguese and entrenched British commercial interests through the monopoly of the Royal Niger Company and its subsidiaries like John Holt, United African Company (UAC), Kingsway Supermarkets, among others. These transactions took place at a location by the River Nigeria, in the general area called Otu Nkwo Eze, which later became Main Market. The British monopoly was such that it did not allow non-British products into the Main Market leading to the establishment of a new market called Ochanja, which derogatorily means something of low value; a place for inferior products.
The early commercial competition was primarily between Britain and other European countries with local businessmen either completely excluded or simply left to play the role of middle men. But that changed with the intervention of an eccentric English man and merchant, John Murray Stuart Young, who upon acquiring so much wealth fought the cartels in an effort to open up opportunities for native businesses. It would eventually emerge that he was a fugitive from justice in England which explained his anti-British attitude. Merchant, Poet and a Patron of the Arts, Stuart Young inspired and supported aspiring writers like the young Dennis Osadebe from Asaba, just across the River Niger (who later became Premier of Mid-West Region) as well as Nnamdi Azikiwe. His impact was so profound that the young Zik effusively dedicated his first book of poems Meditations to him in the following words- reverently dedicated to John Murray Stuart Young who taught us to sing and to defer the applause of the moment to the judgement of history. Stuart Young so endeared himself to the people of Onitsha that they gave him the title of Odoziaku, and upon his death in 1939 organized a most lavish weeklong funeral for him. However, unable to comprehend why such a stupendously wealthy man had no wife and children, local mythology has it that he had befriended the mermaid of the River Niger (Mama Iwota) to remain single in return for great wealth.
In the immediate post-independent years, Premier of the Eastern Region, Dr. Michael Okpara, a man whose leadership and developmental visions inspire me, undertook the massive construction of the Main Market that made it the biggest in West Africa. Unfortunately, the market suffered massive destruction during the civil war and was rebuilt by then administrator of East Central State, Ukpabi Asika, who also started its decentralization to ease congestion; a policy that has continued to date. Today, Onitsha markets extend beyond Onitsha metropolis to such adjoining towns as Ogbaru, Obosi, Ogidi, Ogbunike, Nkwelle Ezunaka, among others.
Since its lowly beginnings, Onitsha has maintained its pre-eminent status as the commercial hub of the south east of Nigeria and with the biggest cluster of markets in the entire West African region making it unarguably, an excellent case study for the apprenticeship research; the findings which can be extrapolated to other markets in major cities of the region.
Invigorating the Apprenticeship Scheme Research Project: Questions, Sample Population, Findings and Proposals
For many years in the recent past, it seemed as if the apprenticeship Scheme that have served the Igbos so well was plagued with major problems; even tilting towards extinction. Increasingly, many young men and their parents became disdainful of the scheme that changed the lives of most Igbo families. Their contempt is captured in the mantra- Umu anyi ada agbazi Boyi (literally interpreted to mean that our children are no longer servants). The valorization of the apprenticeship scheme as if it is still enjoying currency may be misplaced. The research project therefore sought to answer such questions, among others, as:
- What is the current state of the Apprenticeship Scheme and what future does it hold for young adults?
- Where does the apprenticeship Scheme come in, in terms of Human Capital Development?
- What are the changing dynamics and along with the emerging scenarios?
The study, the most expansive yet on apprenticeship in Igboland, made interesting findings. The empirical study covered all major markets in Onitsha and environs spanning over five Local Government Areas with a sample size of 2,401 respondents- 1,200 Umu Boyi (Apprentices) and 1,201 Ndi Oga (Masters).
On October 20, 2021, the report of the study was formally presented to my humble self at a well-attended ceremony which held at the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Hall of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
Key findings of the study include:
- The strong positive relationship between socio- cultural values and the Igbo apprenticeship Scheme;
- Ndioga (Masters) who went through the apprenticeship Scheme are more likely to succeed in business/ trade and commerce, than those who did not;
- Business types determine the number of years for an apprentice;
- In the past, kin related apprenticeship predominated, but now non kin related apprenticeship is on the ascendancy;
- A new phenomenon is creeping in, not necessarily as substitute apprenticeship, and that is the increasing role of sales persons, mostly girls;
- Adult education and education generally will enhance entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills;
- The relationship between Igba Boyi and wealth creation and employment is further validated;
- Loss of family and cultural values in Igboland are implicated in the decline of Igba Boyi. The erosion of such fundamental values like honesty, discipline, diligence, hard work, among others have led to quest for wealth by any means, get-rich quick syndrome and the lack of patience to learn requisite skills that are pervasive among today’s youths. In my opinion, these are very central to the problem which I plan to address a bit later in the presentation.
On the basis of the findings above, the study made some key recommendations which include:
- Reconceptualization, Rebranding and Repackaging of Igba Boyi as Nkwado Ogalanya (literally, preparing for greatness) encapsulated in an evocative bold new concept Apprenticepreneurship. This need for rebranding arises out of the study’s finding that Igba Boyi, for some young people has become a derogatory term implying even servitude. This concept supposes that the apprentice is being prepared to become an entrepreneur and a wealth creator, and not being enslaved as some of them think. The study rightly recommends that the rebranding of Igba Boyi to Nkwado Ogaranya should be institutionalized through formal and informal structures of Igbo society- schools, churches, families, community networks, among others. The goal here is to get young people to appreciate that in going through the Nkwado Ogaranya process, they are being empowered for greatness as wealth creators and employers of labour, and not being exploited as some misguided youths think.
- The establishment of Ministry of Apprenticepreneurship in all South Eastern States to ensure greater government role in fostering apprenticeship driven economic growth throughout the region.
Such government led effort include the provision of critical infrastructure (e.g. good roads, electricity etc.) to drive economic growth; the provision of adequate security (public safety); the standardization of incubation periods (length of apprenticeship relative to the trade or skill being learned)- what the study calls Igbo Entrepreneurial Incubation Scheme (IEIS); the establishment of adult education centres near markets to enable apprentices and their masters more easily access the skills and knowledge needed to improve their productivity.
- The formalization of the engagement between the Apprentice and Master (e.g. written agreements/contracts defining the terms of the relationship and what is expected of each party rather than the prevailing system which is solely based on trust). This will help reduce the incidence of abuses and exploitation that characterize the current trust-based system; even if such infractions are in the minority. While the proposed agreement is primarily between the Master and the Apprentice’s extended family (Umunna), government also have a role to play here by enacting a regulatory framework whose terms can be enforced.
- The establishment of a contributory fund to support the Apprenticeship scheme through, for example, seed capital for start-ups, grants and soft loans, among others.
- Soliciting the support of international donor agencies and development partners for the Apprenticeship scheme, for example in the area of Social Franchising (i.e. business initiatives that achieve socially beneficial ends)
Basically, the study underscored the need for a paradigm shift in the nomenclature and appreciation of the actual role apprenticeship plays in preparing young people to become independent wealth creators.
Ethical Issues in Apprenticeship: The Urgent Need for Moral Regeneration of Society
Ladies and Gentlemen, Prof. Nonyelu and his team have done an exceptional job identifying the problems facing the apprenticeship scheme in Igbo land and have also offered bold and novel solutions to revitalize it. I am particularly fascinated by the new concept of Apprenticepreneurship (Nkwado Ogaranya). For their scholarship, they deserve our immense respect and gratitude. There is so much in the report to help change the current trajectory of the scheme so it can continue to serve the Igbo nation.
However, my focus in the concluding part of this paper will be on one of the challenges the study raised, which I consider the biggest threat to both the apprenticeship scheme and the Igbo nation at large- the erosion of family and cultural values without which no society can survive, not to talk of prosper.
Mostof us will readily agree that the apprenticeship system in Igboland began to suffer when apprentices, even in their very first weeks began to aspire to become bigger than their Masters (Oga). Before I am misunderstood, let me stress that there is nothing wrong with aspiration, or even ambition so long it is pure and legitimate. But that’s certainly not the situation we are faced with. As a society, we are at the crossroads, faced with the existential challenge of seeing our youths through a tutelage system that patiently makes them respected wealth creators against the lure of quick riches by any means along with its abandonment of basic values and the embrace of all manner of violence and criminality. The recent upsurge in drug abuse and ritual killings are indisputably linked to the quest for quick money (Ego Mbute mindset/Igbu Ozu syndrome) or the current day okeite syndrome.
This has also led to situations where some apprentices go to lengths to seek to ‘control’ their bosses by diabolical means with the intention to take over their wealth. This was precisely the focus of a recent discussion on a Radio programme where it was disclosed that an apprentice at ASPAMDA market in Lagos, had to contract the services of a medicine woman in a town in our own dear Anambra state, to fix him a charm that would hoodwink his oga and his wife and make them subservient to his dictates. The apprentice was quoted as reporting to another apprentice who introduced him to the medicine woman that the charm has had an effect on his oga’s wife but not on his oga. A video of the charm went viral on social media where it generated intense discussions.
While the radio programme was on, someone called in to disclose how his elder brother, who owned a very large building material business, with a chain of shops here in Anambra, was ruined by nwa boyi, who deployed clandestine means to ‘work’ on his master. The effect was that his master, who always travelled to China and returned with containers of building materials, could no longer do so and his business failed to the point that the oga could no longer afford flight tickets for domestic travels. When the lid on the development was blown, it was discovered that the nwa boyi had developed a strategy through which he diverted goods from his oga’s warehouse to one owned by him. He was also said to have bought several plots of land here in Anambra, some of which were being developed into shopping plaza as at the time. Upon further investigation by the Police and the market association, the nwa boyi was found to have even built a duplex in his village alongside a shop he bought for his girlfriend at the Main Market in Onitsha. Exposition of the development through the failure of one of the accomplices, who happens to be sales girl in the shops, was the only thing the oga needed to be convinced that his failure was not caused by his ‘village people’.
These, and many more such developments, are part of ethical issues that are now forcing ndi oga to become more skeptical about accepting apprentices from places where they do not have filial relationships. In most cases, such oga would rather settle for nephews with the belief that they won’t be easily lured to diabolism like persons from far-off families.
As a result, a growing number of Igbo businessmen are skeptical about engaging Apprentices (Nwa Boyi). Many now prefer to hire Salespersons (mostly girls) who, as employees, are subject to certain labour rules including immediate termination relative to the terms of their employment.
The implication here is that Nkwado Ogaranya, while very laudable does not compensate for the ethical deficit and growing moral bankruptcy of our society. Nothing indeed can, unfortunately. So this is by no way an indictment on the study; rather it is an effort to draw attention to the great ethical conundrum of our time, which does not yield itself to an easy solution. This, therefore, calls us to action in seeking ways to address the growing erosion of values in our society as a key condition to reinvigorating the apprenticeship systemin Igboland.
Added to this is another reality of post-apprenticeship ‘settlement’. Recently, the social media was abuzz with a story that an oga settled his nwa boyi with only N100,000 after five years of apprenticeship. Though no one was able to explain the circumstances of such ‘settlement’, the inuendo was that the oga must be a very wicked man and never wanted the growth and development of his nwa boyi. Whatever the facts were, the reality of such settlement under present economic conditions, sends several wrong messages about ndi oga and umu boyi one of which is the discouragement it brings to the scheme.
A New Agenda: Towards Rebuilding our Ethical Infrastructure
Ladies and Gentlemen, as you all know, I volunteered myself during the last governorship to be part of the change process that we needed so urgently in Anambra state. I had become very concerned about the negative progression of our dear state, in all spheres, and stepped into the contest to help lead the state in a new direction. My intention, like I always said, was not for personal satisfaction. In venturing into the political arena, I developed a 10-Point Agenda for a new direction for our state. One of the key points on the agenda was Rebuilding Our Ethical Infrastructure.
Quite often, our political leaders focus on stomach infrastructure without paying attention to the development of ethical infrastructure which is the foundation upon which the mouth feeds. There is no doubt that the failure of our ethical infrastructure, which is directly tied to the loss of our family and cultural values, is fundamental to the challenges the Igbo apprenticeship scheme currently faces.
The older generation of Igbo businessmen, most of who were products of the Apprenticeship system, became wealthy guided by the values and ethics they were brought up with, including those inculcated in them during their apprenticeship years.
I recall that in times past, parents will raise alarm and invite the entire village to ask their child, who they are aware has not yet obtained his freedom from his oga, to explain where he got a brand-new pair of fancy shoes from. Today, they will rather run to church thanking God for blessing their child. Like the Nwa Boyi that fleeced his oga to build a house in his village, it is not impossible that his parents, or uncles, celebrated him and perhaps even used him to taunt his mates who were yet to ‘make it’.
It was my intense concern about this growing moral deficit in our society that I made rebuilding of ethical infrastructure a key plank of my campaign. I had stated, in my manifesto, that “working with the civil society, religious organizations and the private sector, the government shall establish a Center for Values and Character. In addition to that, I had envisioned the need for:
•Value and Attitudinal re-orientation of all people.
•Continuous training of all cadres of Anambrarians on integrity, civic rights, duties and responsibilities.
• Restoration of Igbo Culture and Values.
• Institutionalization of moral instructions in schools and in Adult education curriculum.
• Promotion of culture of modesty, trust and honesty through appropriate educational programs, including theatre and film.
• Partner with Churches and other Civil Society Organizations, including community networks and associations to foster family and cultural values;
• Promote transparency and anti-corruption measures in government especially in the areas of procurement and project execution, among others.
Going forward, we can still revisit these and seek ways to incorporate them into our plans, as a state, to reinvigorate the apprenticeprenuership scheme in Igboland. We have our work cut out for us but I am confident that if we all collectively as a society (starting from the family and community) begin to tackle these problems with the seriousness they deserve, tomorrow will be a new Igbo land.
Also, to safeguard against situations where a graduate of an apprenticeship scheme, or indeed, a university graduate finds it difficult to raise start-up funds, I had equally envisioned a Graduates/Apprenticeship Empowerment Initiative through which the government was to empower our youths by tapping into a percentage of wasted state funds to create new entrepreneurs out of our youths.
In conclusion ladies and gentlemen, let me draw our minds to the thoughts of the great philosopher, Aristotle, who said in Nicomachean Ethics that “the purpose of knowledge is action, not knowledge.” For me, what this means is that we should now be talking of actions that we must take to change the narrative on Igbo apprenticeship scheme. I say this because, already, a study has been concluded. The report has been launched. It is ready and it is accessible. What is left to do, to my mind, is to take action on the recommendations and begin to put into practice what the research team led by Prof. Nonyelu has proposed. I therefore implore each of us and all state governments in our region, to get copies of the report, study them, and seek ways to implement them. I will also implore all development agencies and partners, international and local, to do the same. That is the surest way to begin our quest to reinvigorate and transform the apprenticeship system in Igbo land to live up to its new promise of Nkwado Ogaranya. We must prepare our youths for greatness through the new Apprenticepreneurship programme. We must prepare them to become self-reliant. We must prepare them to become independent and we must prepare them to become job and wealth creators in line with government emphasis on Entrepreneurship in our educational curriculum. This is a most urgent clarion call for to do otherwise is to watch painfully as our society gradually slide into anarchy as a result of the restlessness of our youths. As I have always said, the surest way to win back our youths from the crime world is to empower them with jobs which offers them hope and creates a new vista for their future. I am confident that a hopeful future will bring many youths back from the brink of criminality and with that a return to traditional values that many of us grew up with.
Today, some of our people take Eziafakaego (Good name is better that money) as title. But in times past, it was a routine value that almost every family worked very hard to sustain. What went wrong and from where did the rain start to beat us as our people would say?
As Igbo people, our culture taught us such values as respect for elders, hard work, the sanctity of human life, honesty, fairness and indeed the avoidance anything our society consider to be evil. But that is no more. Therefore, for us to pull through and bring back Igba Boyi as apprenticeprenuership or Nkwado Ogaranya, our youths, who hold the future of the Igbo nation in their hands must begin to restore those time-honoured values which saw our forebears become great entrepreneurs and the envy of the world through the apprenticeship system
The time has come; the moment is now! Igbo Kwenu!
I thank you for listening.
Obiora Okonkwo, Ph.D
Hilton Leisure Hotels, Awka