- Multi million naira Enugu Tech hub and youths centre abandoned in Obollo-Afor
- Reptiles, criminal elements take over the premises
- Experts, residents appeal to the government to revitalize the centre
In December, 2020 the Enugu state government under the leadership of Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi established several Information and Communication Technology, ICT hub with a view to training thousands of youths for acquisition of ICT knowledge.
After several months of dilly dallying and brainstorming, the establishment of the centres came into fruition.
WITHIN NIGERIA findings revealed that following its approval for the establishment of Enugu Tech Hub and Youth Innovation Centres, at Enugu City and Obollo Afor, the administration of former Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State commenced massive construction and renovation of facilities at the areas.
In a statement by the then Commissioner for Science and Technology, Hon. Obi Kama, the all-important projects initiated by Ex- Gov. Ugwuanyi to bring technology-driven innovations down to the grassroots for digital economy, gave birth to the establishment of the ICT hub in many local government headquarters in the state.
During the opening the hub, our reporter gathered that Hon. Kama disclosed that the target of Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration “is to turn Enugu into a Tech tourism state within the next three years by bringing in the best Tech solutions and innovations through localization and consequently increase the state Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by at least 15 percent”.
The then Science and Technology Commissioner however, added that “the hub also targets to create more than 1,500 small scale tech businesses in the region; employing more than 10,000 youths within the short space of time”.
He further disclosed that the services to be rendered at the Tech Hub centres for the benefit of the people of Enugu State, especially the youth, include computer training programmes, solar skills acquisition training, computer coding, web site designs, graphic designs, confectionaries and hands-on technical skills training, among others.
He stated that “the centres will be equipped with computer sets, solar power source, 100 KVA Generator, internet access, training tools and consumables”.
The Commissioner explained that the facilities being installed at the centres are state-of-the-art “in line with Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s vision for ICT and technical skills acquisition for employment generation and wealth creation”.
Kama noted that “Enugu State, over the years, has been rated the highest academic hub of the Southern Nigeria, hosting more than 10 indigenous Universities, Polytechnic and Colleges of Education”, which turn out great number of first class and second class graduates in the areas of Mathematics, Sciences, Engineering Technology and others.
The Commissioner added that “some of these graduates travel abroad for more sophisticated skills acquisition”, stressing that the Enugu State Tech Hub intends to drive technology innovation down home as “it is designed to discourage our youths from travelling to Lagos, India, China, other countries, to acquire technical skills that will enable them fit into the modem society and compete favourably with other professionals, saying: “Those skills you travel abroad to acquire, will be provided them at your doorsteps”.
According to him “The hub will not only groom them, it will also provide a ‘Tech Cluster’ (temporary office accommodation) for ‘Tech Start Ups’ for those who want to own businesses but may not have enough capital to rent offices and start up. It will create enabling atmosphere for them to start businesses with ease”.
He further pointed out that target candidates for the programmes are graduates of Universities, Polytechnic, among others, who want to make a career in professional ICT and technology related disciplines, non graduates with some technical skills, entrepreneurs and prospective farmers and artisans.
He stressed that the project will serve as an interface between Tech giants like Microsoft, IBM, HP, Alibaba, Google, Facebook etc and Enugu Tech Start ups.
He highlighted that the courses to be offered at the centres include web application development, mobile app, and software development; website design and hosting; professional graphics – Adobe Suits; data science and analytics; business intelligence; agro business and automation and Ease of Doing Business (EODB), among others.
However, the aim of the project is said to have been defeated as many of the centres have been literally abandoned and left to wallow in dilapidation.
One of such abandoned ICT is Obollo-Afor, ICT Tech hub.
Located at Central School Obollo-Afor, the centre has literally become an eyesore and a source of serious concern.
When our reporter visited the centre, there was a visible mark of neglect and abandonment oozing out from the multi-million naira ICT project.
The centre was under lock and key even as it has been taken over by grasses and some dangerous reptiles.
Some persons were also seen indulging in illicit activities like smoking of hard Indian Hemp.
In any case, one of the residents of Obollo-Afor, Onyebuchi Mamah who spoke to WITHIN NIGERIA explained that the situation has become worrisome as many youths who would have benefited from the training.
According to Mr. Mamah, ” one of the brothers acquired his computer knowledge from the ICT hub. Today, he has small computer centre where he provides ICT-related services to many people. He also provides computer training in his computer centre.”
Explaining further, Mr. Mamah narrated that ” since the administration of Governor Peter Mbah, the centre has been under lock and key. Nothing has been going there ever since then.
“We are appealing to the state government to reopen the centre so as to enable our youths gain knowledge that will be useful for them and the society at large.”
However, another resident of the area Mr. Kingsley Odo told WITHIN NIGERIA that he was not happy with the current situation of the centre.
Mr. Odo, a computer expert, stated that ” I am not happy seeing this ICT being taken over by grasses and reptiles.”
According to him, ” the centre would have provided much computer and ICT knowledge for many people especially youths in this area, but look at it lying in waste and dilapidation.”
Explaining further, Odo said thus; “Let me use this opportunity to bring to the notice of the present governor of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, the current state of the Enugu Tech & Youth Innovation Hub at Central School Obollo-Afor Udenu LGA, built under the administration of former Gov. Ifeanyi Lawrence Ugwuanyi.
“I want to notify our able governor that the Tech & Youth Innovation Hub built to empower the people of the LGA and beyond, has been left lying unattended since it was built. As you can see from the photos, grass has overgrown the Tech Hub site at Central School Obollo-Afor.”
Lamenting further, Mr. Odo said that “the current state of the Tech Hub obviously negates Gov. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah’s plan for exponential growth and massive development for Ndi Enugu.
“Thus, in line with the overall plan of Dr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah’s administration to upscale Enugu State’s GDP from the present $4.4B to $30B it is very important that such youths skills acquisition should be revived.
“I am hereby calling on our vibrant and determined governor to revive the Tech Hub and put it into effective and efficient operation to enhance the achievement of this noble objective.
“Let’s ignore unfavourable (self-centered) intra and inter party politics and others, and move on as a people, as an LGA, and as a State.”
However all efforts to get the reaction of the state Commissioner for Youths development, Barr. Lloyd Ekweremmadu proved abortive as he was not picking up his calls.