• 65% of caretaker committees in LG, LCDA, are youths
• Govt set to launch ‘Osun cares’ for youths, elderly
Yemi Lawal, Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development, is one of the youngest cabinet members in the Oyetola administration.
The young, charming ,vibrant and fearless commissioner with a knack to make a difference in all he does told osunnewsroom.com some of his experiences in the saddle of development of youths and sports . Bukola Aderibigbe and Moshood Suleiman bring excerpts.
In the last three years, Osun, no doubt has witnessed a turnaround in the field of sports. What is the magic?
Yemi Lawal: Thank you so much for your observations and compliments in respect of our activities in the state Ministry of Sports and Youths under my leadership . I will first say to God be the glory for everything.
However, for everything that we have achieved and are still achieving ,kudos must be given to our principal, whom I prefer to address as my father, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola , the governor of Osun state. And above all , God must be appreciated and praised for the wisdom he has given the governor to pilot the affairs of Osun.
Perhaps we should take a look at these achievements one after the other since your Ministry has different departments. For instance, let’s take a look at the department of Youths, which is one of the engine rooms of the Ministry.
Yemi Lawal :
Very good. Let’s start on that note. Recently we launched an all-encompassing policy in the state known as The Osun Youth Policy.
The policy contains 4Es specifically coined by the administration of Mr Adegboyega Oyetola; Education, Engagements, Entrepreneurship, and Empowerment. The whole idea is for us to be able to capture all the youths of the state in such a way that we can channel their energy and potentials into productive activities in the state.
Can you please be specific ?
In the Oyetola Youth Policy document , we have, out of genuine concern for the youths of the state carefully drafted 21 systematic areas as focal points . One of them was the recently held ‘Osun Sports Festival’ ,unarguably the first and the best of its kind since the creation of the 30-year-old state and perhaps even in the history of the Nigerian federation.
During the OSF, for the first time ,we went deep into the grassroots to scout for youths and their talents and how such can be productively utilized to the advantage of each youth and the state at large.
In the process, we succeeded in getting over 5000 youths engaged in the state of Osun for a period of two months. The attendant benefits of this can not be overemphasized. It was an all-encompassing festival to the delight of the youths and the administration of Mr Adegboyega Oyetola.
Is there a plan to that effect to sustain the festival program or it is going to be a one-off affair ?
Oh no. It is not going to be a one-off show . With what we have seen and realized about the talents that abound in the state , Mr Governor has given an executive approval for its continuity .
We realized during the 60 days of OSF that Osun, as a state, has a lot of sporting talents waiting to be showcased to the world. We are not going to leave any stone unturned to achieve this dream.
In the Ministry of Youths and Sports today, so far we have over 36 registered youth organisations who have been officially captured under the concept of National Youth Council.
We have another one called the Youth Assembly of Nigeria .
We are taking a look at ways of getting all of them meaningfully and productively engaged .
The administration of Oyetola again thought it wise to have what we called ‘Youth Parliament’ where in each local government of the state, there’s going to be a parliamentary sitting of the youths to sweat issues out intelligently in legislative proceedings as being done in conventional parliaments. An executive approval to that effect has again been graciously given by our youth-friendly-governor, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola. Very soon , we shall throw it open to the world . You see, the whole idea is to catch them young in the area of parliamentary proceedings as being done in the State and National Assemblies in Nigeria.
Majority of those things the youths would be discussing will mimick the conventional assemblies of parliamentarians and would sometimes be forwarded to the State and even National Assembly for consideration and eventual approval.
Any monetary supports so far for the youths from the state government of Osun?
Thank you for this question. At the risk of sounding immodest, no administration has been as youth-friendly as the administration of Oyetola, a man who does not even in a dream joke with the growth and development of the youths. To be frank, this administration through my Ministry and with the approval of Mr Governor, has supported over 4660 youths with financial supports either to start or boost their existing businesses. We came to this conclusion because we realized that a lot of them have business ideas but lack the financial means to translate such a laudable business dream into reality. Some youths in Osun under the three-year-old Oyetola-led government, got as much as N500,000, N750,000, N900,000 and we also have those that smiled home with as much as N1.2m, N1.5m, and even N2.5m. We have a record to the tune of over 4 billion naira sunk into this project by Oyetola-led government for youths.
Imagine the effects of this magnanimity on the youths and the economy of Osun as a whole! Today, we have quite a number of small scale enterprises springing up in Osun, courtesy of Oyetola’s magnanimity to the teeming youths of the state .
Let’s again move to sports development in the State in the last three years. What did you do differently to have a breakthrough hitherto lacking before the advent of this administration?
I am not a magician neither is my father, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola. We started by first identifying where the problems were and we holistically tackled them headlong even though we went through herculean tasks that cannot be easily explained in a jiffy. We took time to study all the situations. Eventually, we went round all the local governments of Osun to know our strengths and weaknesses in sports development .We engaged all stakeholders before engaging the services of those we called support coordinators drawn carefully from the various local governments of the state to monitor and assist us in discovering talents and after the discovery of these talents, the Ministry took it as a responsibility to begin to nurture them to greater heights.
Was that the magic?
Thank you so much. Your guess is as good as mine. By and large, it has been very fruitful and commendable for us in this Ministry. For instance, during the just concluded National Youth Games in Nigeria, Osun contingents participated in six(6) competitions and to the glory of God and support of Mr Governor, who did “the normal things” as usual in terms of what it takes to take part in such national sporting outings, Osun alone came back with 11 medals. For me, that was a great feat that ever came the way of the state. Again, our age-group football team, the Under-15 team precisely, came second in the whole of Nigeria, during yet another recent sporting encounters. One thing we need to be doing constantly is to give kudos to Mr Governor for his passion for sports and youth development. Mr Governor has been wonderful. To show his passion and commitment for sports, he directed that all members of the State Executive Council and other top government functionaries must buy and wear Osun United jerseys henceforth. Doing this is another way of encouraging the Osun team and its players. Let me tell you another midas touch of Mr Governor for the growth and happiness of Osun youths: for them not to be left out in the celebration of the International Day of the Youths last year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic which brought about lockdowns and restrictions, Mr Governor directed that my Ministry must devise means of interacting with the youths. Consequently, we organised virtual interactive sessions with them and we came out happy and better for it. Lastly, I must tell you that 65% of the recently appointed members of the different Caretaker Committees in various local governments and LCDAs of Osun are youths carefully chosen to serve their state. And today their impacts are being felt .
It also falls under the purview of your Ministry to take care of people with special needs. How well have you gone in this drive in the last three years?
We call it the department of Special needs in the Ministry of youths and sports. This is where we take care of people with physical disabilities. We equally cater for the elderly people too. Just recently, we had a program where we gave support to the elderly ones in the society. 10,000 of them were captured and assisted accordingly in that program.
In addition we have a scheme where we give 50,000 youths stipends after working just for two hours of the 24 hours that make a day. Added to this is a new program which will soon be launched by Mr Governor. It is christened “Osun Cares”, where again, we are going to be taking care of thousands of youths and elderly.
The State’s sports council is basically saddled with the responsibility of carrying out different Sporting activities.
Under Oyetola, what is the situation with this agency which again is under the purview of your Ministry?
The State’s sports council is taking a new direction for good now in Osun. It was hitherto shrouded with a lot of shenanigans that were not in tune with the existing realities on ground. When we came on board three years ago, we realised the true essence of engaging in sporting activities. To achieve that, we stopped certain abnormalities. Initially, we were misunderstood and our noble and genuine intentions misconstrued beyond every reasonable limit by some few individuals. We were given bad names when in real sense we came with the good intention of injecting good things into the annals of sports and other sporting activities. I am happy to inform you the same people condemning and lambasting us are still living till today and have realised that our mission was clean and open, devoid of ill-feelings or intentions against anybody or institution. To God be the glory. We have been vindicated. For instance, our female team just returned from Abuja where they won a third place position in the Flying Officer Competition. The list of our other achievements in the field of sports is endless.
We can not but again talk about another popular scheme, the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme, fondly called OYES.
The assignment Mr Governor gave to us on this scheme was to first and foremost find means of instilling sanity into the entire scheme. A very good scheme, no doubt. It is basically designed to bring those who are unemployed and less privileged youths out of the pool of poverty. Having injected elements of sanity into the scheme as distinct from the hitherto situation, a new lease of life is having a field day in OYES. A lot of the youths in the scheme are today smiling in one way or the other. There’s a concrete plan in the offing to inject more blood into the scheme next year by God’s grace.