DANIEL ABEL speaks with Oyo State Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Seun Fakorede, about his motivation and reason for unveiling a new awards ceremony to celebrate the 100 most influential young people in the world ‘State. Extract:
As Commissioner of Youth and Sports in Oyo State, what impact have you had on the lives of young people in the state?
Well, speaking of impact, as the Commissioner of Youth and Sport in the State, my work essentially touches on youth engagement and empowerment of youth development and sport in the State and since 2019. I have been able to achieve a number of things during this administration, in particular, for young people. I’ll start with the development of sports in the state we’ll all see that in our time as far as the previous administration goes I don’t think there’s been an administration before now that really focused on sports infrastructure and development and a very good example is Lekan Salami sports complex, for anyone who knows this facility before it was remodeled you can tell a lot of work has been done in this place to make it at least an international standard installation. Additionally, one of our main drivers is to ensure that we make development comprehensive and inclusive. As a result, we currently have no less than 11 sports infrastructure projects that we are running simultaneously in all areas. It’s because we want to make sure that we bring that development and engagement to the grassroots. Also, when you look at the Commonwealth Games that just ended, you see what our guys accomplished and what they were able to do all around. So I think we actually have a lot to put in the bag. If I start mentioning the number of medals, the number of distinctions and the number of trophies that we have in the commitment and the sports activities during this period, I am sure that we will not be finished today. Also, one thing we believe in is in the development of our youth and this ministry has focused on improving their current situation. We have held several trainings for the youth of the state on how to handle non-oil exports because we believe so much that there is more to our country than oil or oil, so there are non-oil exports which we can really benefit from, so we have partnered with the Corporate Affairs Commission and NNPC to organize these trainings. There are also a number of technical trainings that we organize and fellowships with international organizations like the one that is going on right now in which we have partnered with the United States government and the fellows who are going to follow this fellowship during a year will be inaugurated tomorrow at the American Embassy.
What programs has your office launched to help young people in Oyo State thrive in entertainment, technology and sports?
There are a number of programs that during my time here I have been able to integrate into the system, and these programs and projects are unique that no other department has produced. Like our school system, where we are used to the old curriculum that needed to be changed over time, I also integrate new projects that will benefit young people. One of the things I’ve done since taking over as commissioner has been revamping the system and revamping it to better serve young people. We had training; educate people on cybersecurity, train them in project management, project design, etc. As I said, I can assure you that this administration is the first administration to perform this type of training as well as a number of athletic development training. Also, there was a time when we had a coaching clinic and training for state coaches of the various sports teams we have in the state. Currently there are 26 sports coaches and for each of them there is always periodic training and exercises. In entertainment, I believe that one of the things we can really do to encourage this sector is to be part of their commitment and that is why today in Oyo State it is a good thing most of these entertainers or people who are into the entertainment business are still doing well taking away the government and personally i can say i try as much as possible to attend a number of these shows for the sustain.
What motivated you to create the Oyo State Youth Awards and what do you intend to accomplish with the ceremony?
The reward event was actually a personal idea. I remember when we were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and a lot of things seemed to fall apart during the lockdown. But as time goes by, we are coming out of this phase and I see a number of young people who have been affected by the pandemic. But to my surprise, the way several young people in the state have handled the pandemic and not allowed it to stop them from growing up sparked my ambition to launch the award. Their drive to weather the economic downturn didn’t kill their passion. He actually inspired the award and its “Stronger Together” theme. I believe celebrating young people has not always been something the government takes seriously and an initiative like this will go a long way. We have selected 100 of our young people in the state who are doing extremely well and will celebrate them. Interestingly, we had over 14,000 nominations before they were whittled down to 100. It took several months before they managed to put together this list. So really the basis is just to celebrate our young people and say well done to them we see what you have done and what we can only do because the government needs to continue to create an environment for them to thrive and we just want that you know that we are with you.
Will the award be an annual ceremony?
Yes. I mean, you know, government is a continuum and for each administration there is a different work policy and rules of engagement. But what I can say is that as long as I am still here and in governance, we will certainly continue to celebrate exceptional young people. In addition, even after my mandate, I will continue to prioritize the development of young people. However, I cannot guarantee that the next person to occupy my seat will continue the project. I mean there’s a number of times where the administration comes in and says, this policy of this last administration, we don’t believe in it, we don’t want to continue with a particular course of action and they feel they want to go another way. Remember there was an administration whose definition of empowerment was to buy grinders, gas stoves, motorcycles for young people. However, we believe we can do better, hence the creation of the award. So I think it’s actually a very commendable project that should be continued because it celebrates youth, it’s not a selfish commitment.
How do you relax, what are your hobbies?
I like to play table tennis among other sports activities. But when I’m not in a sporty mood, I spend time with my friends and family, we rub shoulders and share ideas for improvement.