As a global phenomenon, governments and administrations are mostly appraised in their twilight, by the amount of projects that can be tagged ‘legacy projects’ accomplished whilst in office.
In Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s State of Osun, one wouldn’t have to look too far to highlight the youth-themed project, Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES), as one of the prime legacy projects that have adorned his administration with an apparel of distinction.
As far as sustainable youth empowerment is concerned, Aregbesola’s OYES has proven to be the strategic solution to a monsoon of unemployment and economic malaise that ravaged the state prior to his administration. Seven years of seamless implementation later, and with the 4th batch of OYES cadets recently commissioned for empowerment, there lies no other perfect time to look back on this widely-acclaimed scheme that came with an air of difference from other schemes before it.
As a revolving volunteers’ scheme designed to eliminate the frustration and paralyzing effect of unacceptably high and seemingly intractable youth unemployment pervasive in Osun, nay, Nigeria, the OYES scheme was installed back in 2010 to drive wholistic entrepreneurial and life skills into a swathe of unemployed youths, all with the strategic intention of achieving lasting empowerment for its beneficiaries.
In other words, the OYES scheme basically said “NO” to the idea of giving mere handouts to youths in the name of empowerment, rather, it sought how to employ youths into a skills accrual setup, where they are paid a stipend while at it, and where they are nurtured to outgrow this setup into becoming gainful entrepreneurs of their own.
At inception, the validity of the OYES scheme was proven by the mammoth acceptance it received. Over 250,000 youths sought to register for a scheme that had space for 20,000. Right there, was the challenge that threatened the success of the scheme, but it also exposed the strategic depth bought into the scheme by Aregbesola and his co-pilots for OYES.
In order to ensure that the remaining interested applicants are not just discarded after engaging the initial 20,000 qualified applicants, the idea of batches was hatched and were created. Then, a robust exit strategy was put in place to facilitate the entrance of every batch (member) into the Nigerian economy, with their capacity improved, and also empowered to walk into life-long careers.
With a further forensic insight into the innards of the scheme, one would notice that Governor Aregbesola and his team deliberately made sure that every batch member, as part of this exit strategy, will be armed with new skills, life skills, entrepreneurship and mentoring skill sets, to ensure that they are prepared for a honourable and gainful exit from the scheme. This described above, is the most notable edge that singles out OYES from an array of empowerment schemes that flood the political and administrative landscape. For the past 7 years, this one strategy has created a healthy flow into the state and national economies, and at the same time allowed succeeding batches of 20,000 unemployed youths to experience the benefits of serving as Cadet Volunteers in OYES.
Over these years, the OYES cadets and corps have been deployed to offer productive services in identified areas of socio-economic life, as the scheme is divided into cadres such as the green gangs; the sanitation czars; the paramedics; the traffic marshals; the sheriff corps, and the public works brigade. They are also smartly kitted for group identity, high morale, and to give some finesse to their esteem.
Till date, the scheme keeps stacking packs of testimonies to its success, lives have been changed, new careers have been built, and jobs have been created. For what is worth, OYES has been described in both national and global circles as a phenomenal idea whose conception and implementation is unprecedented in the world in social impact and economic benefits to the people.
Ultimately, values of hard-work and the dignity of labour have been instilled in a society that seriously needed it. This comes from the understanding that OYES thrives largely on the values of apalara, igunpa niyekan, an admixture of character and competence, values deeply entrenched in the omoluabi ethos.
Without an iota of doubt, to the youths in Osun and their families, OYES is Aregbesola’s light at the beginning of their tunnel, through the tunnel, the end of the tunnel, and even now beyond it.
In a few months from now, Ogbeni Rauf will be walking out of the White House, Abeere, leaving behind a exemplary legacy of creating sustainable jobs and transforming lives with the seedlings of meaningful and holistic empowerment, a legacy perfectly primed to outlive his administration.
Written By The OYES Media Team.
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