Mohammed Onotu, an engineer, is the founder, Productive Youth Network (PYN). He is also the author of ‘What I Would Do If Unemployed.’ In this interview he spoke about the foundation, as well as the PYN 2022 Youth Convention, which is holding today in Abuja.
Can you give us an insight into the activities of the foundation?
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The Productive Youth Network Nigeria Limited is a company that engages in the business of running youth development programmes for diverse young people by providing opportunities for personal growth, leadership and creative expressions.
The PYN engages in training, symposia and workshops, capacity building services for the intellectual and social development of individuals, groups and corporate bodies.
We have our operational address at the Capacity Building Centre, Suite 408, at The Capital Hub, Plot 272, Banex/Gwarinpa expressway in Abuja. PYN initiatives are equally aimed at inspiring maximum productivity in the pursuit of personal fulfilment and social usefulness through several strategic initiatives and intergenerational partnerships.
The PYN was established out of the need to create feasible solutions to the decaying competence level of young people in their quest for individual aspirations and in contributing to the progressive course of the society at large. Also, with a view of helping build a network of proactive young people with ethical values and sense of purpose, PYN is committed to services for the intellectual, social, capacity building and empowerment of young people.
The PYN has worked on a variety of projects and initiatives to deliver exceptional value to our clients. Our work includes personal growth and development activities, innovative clinics, training and capacity building, mentorship and youth networking, events and competitions, community services, academic support and research activities in partnership with our sister organisation, Read to Rise Nig Ltd and other organisations. Also, the PYN engages in production, publishing, sales, distribution and supply of books and other capacity building and empowerment materials.
What are the vision and mission statements of the initiative?
Our vision is to be the most productive organisation that inspires young people to positively utilise their energies in achieving their personal aspirations, and contributing to the progressive course of mankind.
Our mission statement includes connecting young people from varying backgrounds to share beneficial values to positively affect one another’s growth and development. We also strive to inspire people about the positive contribution that young people can make to their communities and the world at large.
One other thing we do is to empower young people with skills, knowledge and confidence to advance their aspirations, sense of purpose and rights in their pursuit of a better life.
While our mission is to continue to inspire excellence in diversity, we try to position young people in the right direction for future possibilities.
We also share some core values. They are in the areas of inclusion, participation, commitment, creativity and youth leadership. We value the inclusion of all, regardless of ethnicity, age, background to inspire excellence in diversity. We also value resourceful participation of young people to ensure maximum contribution to the progressive course of mankind.
Commitment is crucial to success, so we value commitment of young people, ensuring maximum utilisation of opportunities.
We also value creativity to facilitate means of maximising the use of available resources and opportunities. We value and nurture youth leadership, creating tomorrow’s leaders today for a better future.
What are the milestones the foundation has achieved since its operation?
The Personal Growth and Development Services is one of the key elements in the scheme of initiatives of the PYN, which is to create a sequence of programmes that take care of the overall wellbeing of an individual, incorporating self-discovery, emotional intelligence and self development-oriented activities.
The goal of this wing of the PYN is to nurture and inspire individuals to positively maximise their potentials and become the best they can be. Example of our personal growth and development programme is the Afterschool Clinic for preparing young people for their next phase of their academic and career pursuit.
The Innovators Clinic is another of our core activities. The core of the innovators clinic is to explore the creativity in each participant by engaging them in several projects based on different skill sets they undergo during the training. Participants are also guided to discover, and groomed to maximise their individual talents/potentials.
The innovators clinic is divided into two categories; the Young Innovators Clinic and Adult Innovators Clinic. During the holidays, a Young Innovators clinic is specially designed for participants between the ages of 3 and 20 with the theme, “The Creative Me.”
Since the start of the programme in 2015, hundreds of participants have acquired skills in drone programming, web designing and hosting, creative robotics, machine learning, virtual reality, 2D and 3D animation, graphics design, fabrics design and sewing, Arabic calligraphy, creative beadworks and leather works, public speaking and creative writing, and lots of other skills. Participants within the ages of 3 and 6 go through “the Little Creative Me” session where several crafts are learnt with the view of inspiring the creativity in the kids.
As a competence improvement driven organisation, we also focus our training services on enabling the development of young people to access a range of quality training, workshops, projects and initiatives that help to build capacity in achieving personal aspirations and improving social usefulness.
The PYN engages in a series of youth development events and all positive youth competitions of all kinds for diverse young people, by providing opportunities for personal growth, leadership, and creative expressions. One of the PYN’s events is “What I Would Do If Unemployed” Youth Event, and one of the PYN competitions is “the Speakers Corner” (an interschool research based competition),
to develop, nurture and support independent, self-managed, self-sustaining and connected structures and platforms across different levels that facilitate youth connections, linkages, networking and exchanges, and strengthen collective impact. Also, to design and implement a rich portfolio of capacity building initiatives leading to overall empowerment of youth by equipping them with necessary skills to effectively serve as agents of positive change in their communities.
It is also to help organizations that have interests in the development of young people to solve problems, create options, suggest recommendations for change or improvement, maximise growth and organisational performance by thoroughly analysing the strategy, structure, management and operations of such organisations.
You are holding a youth convention today (February 19), what is it about?
The PYN 2022 Youth Convention, which theme is, “Enhancing Youth Productivity Towards Self-actualisation and National Development,” is intended to create an opportunity to have a diverse solution-driven conversation on issues affecting the youth from social to economic challenges.
It is a platform for knowledge and experience sharing, with clear focus on developing effective and sustainable strategies in enhancing youth productivity towards self-actualisation and social usefulness. Also, the convention offers opportunities for social networking, mentorship opportunities, career leverages; and going forward, there will be lots of social initiatives post-convention.
How can the Nigerian youth be empowered more to pursue their dreams?
I think the Nigerian youth can be empowered by having well-structured personal growth and development initiatives, provision of quality technical and vocational centres to strengthen competence level, provision of scholarship initiatives and good educational structure to facilitate access to quality learning, creation of enabling business environment for startups amongst the youth, youth engagements in policy making, leadership and developmental projects, and finally, creation of well-structured mentorship initiatives at all levels.
What is your advice to the Nigerian youth generally?
My advice is that everyone should make consistent efforts towards self-development, seek ways of living meaningfully, be conscious of their actions and inactions and persevere patiently in the midst of adversities, hold firm to your aspirations, never stop growing or learning. And they should always have humanity in their hearts in all they do.