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These are definitely not the best of times for Nigeria. The oil price has continued to slide, the naira becoming weaker while unemployment rate remains high among the youth. An average Nigerian does not know the direction the country is going, unfortunately many youths have taken to crime to make ends meet. However, the story of Nigeria is not all about woes as some young professionals are doing the nation proud creating wealth and serving as inspiration to others.

One of the young professionals trying to make a change in Nigeria is Engineer Olasunkanmi Badmus. The Civil Engineer, who is the Managing Director of Omohunola Nigeria Limited, says every youth has his destiny in his hand. To this young man wealth is not the amount of properties you have neither is it a fat bank account but how an individual impacts positively on the society. Engineer Badmus in an interview with Mephy James challenged Nigerian youth to think and act positively even in the face of harsh economic situation.

Engr Bahdmus Olasunkanmi

Engineer Badmus: Great vision for Nigerian youths
TV: You have been an advocacy of youth empowerment through acquisition of skills, what informed this?
Engineer Badmus: The first thing has to do with my perception about life. Personally, I cannot classify anybody as being rich based on the amount of money he has in his account, but what you are able to do to lift others. To me, a wealthy person is that who impacts on the lives of others especially in terms of knowledge. The second reason has to do with my profession. As an Engineer, I believe that whoever has technical skill will continue to survive even when the economy is down. For this reason, I have devoted my energy towards encouraging the youth to embrace technical skills because of the advancement in technology.
I have always believed in what a youth can do with his hand and not reliance on white-collar jobs that are no longer there. It is unfortunate that a lot of youth want to sit in the office and be collecting salaries from the government without tapping their inborn abilities. I am not in any way saying that government work is not good; the fact is that these jobs are no more there for millions of our graduates. Therefore, the only way out is skills acquisition.
TV: But how do youths acquire skills when the right atmosphere is not provided by the government?
Engineer Badmus: I was actually coming to that. It is unfortunate that many laboratories in public schools in the country are virtually empty. Students are taught theory with little practical knowledge because the necessary tools for practical are not there. I will advise government to revamp technical schools across the country while our polytechnics and universities should be well equipped for practical works. However, I also want to challenge our youths that they can start something small even where they live because white-collar jobs are hard to get nowadays.
And for the youths who are professionals, they must dream and think practical. With all modesty, I want to say that practical knowledge gives me an edge in what I’m doing. There is no reason why a graduate of Civil Engineering cannot construct a three-bedroom flat. This is why I keep making reference to practical work. Government has a role to play in this direction.
TV: Does that have anything to do with Industrial Training?
Engineer Badmus: I want to suggest that government should ensure that practical work is incorporated in the curriculum. Again Industrial training should be for at least two years to enhance practical knowledge. A graduate who undergoes two years Industrial training is most likely more exposed to practical work
TV: As a professional, what do you want to see in young Nigerian entrepreneurs?
Engineer Badmus: An entrepreneur must be focused; he must be dynamic and creative in thinking because of competition. In today’s world, there is no way anyone can survive the business environment without creative thinking. To succeed, one has to be hard working and be highly discipline. For instance an entrepreneur who is not discipline will probably have a poor savings culture, so being discipline has a central role to play in the success or otherwise of any business.
TV: What are the challenges faced by Nigerian Engineers?
Engineer Badmus: We have the challenge of quacks practicing as professionals. Unfortunately, some Nigerians still patronize these quacks because they believe that they cannot pay the fee of real professionals. But I want to say that a quack will not do a quality job no matter the angle you look at it. Another challenge has to do with the prices of materials. Because of high cost of materials, some clients will not mind fake materials, but a real professional will not accept to work with fake materials because he has his name and profession to protect. The third challenge is about equipment. Most of the construction equipment are imported which in effect means high prices. I am therefore advocating for the promotion of indigenous technology. Government can help in this direction. I must not forget to mention that indigenous professionals and contractors are sometimes relegated to the background in Nigeria. Jobs which Nigerian Engineers can handle perfectly are sometimes given to foreigners. If you are not giving jobs to Nigerians, how do you want them to have practical experience? This must change in the interest of all Nigerians.
TV: What is your vision for the Nigerian youth?
Engineer Badmus: My vision for the youth of our great nation is for them to be in the forefront of technological breakthrough in the world. I want to see youth that will provide solutions to the problems confronting their environment and be solutions to the problems of the world. That is my dream for the youth and this is achievable if we all work towards it.
Interview by Mephy James