Shehu Bawa Bwari is the the Coordinator, Niger state Arewa Transformation and Empowerment Initiative (ATEI). in this interview with AWAAL GATA, he says ATEI has made more than 1000 unemployed youth self-reliant in Niger state
What inspired you into Youth empowerment ?
I was inspired by Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, the Chief Servant of Niger state, who was the grand patron of an NGO (Nigerian Association of Nimble Youth. NANY) I started with. We used to organise tours to the grassroots to visit our youths and interact with them to know their problems.
After that we worked towards finding solutions to the problems. We recorded a number of successes in that movement which we are still proud of today.
What are ATEI and AYEP about?
Arewa Transformation & Empowerment Initiative(ATEI) is a non-religious and non political body in northern Nigeria. The initiative is bridging the gap between the various ethnic and religious groups in the North, as well as espousing the vision of emancipating the region from the crisis in which it is mired in. And the AYEP (Arewa Youth Empowerment Programme) is a programme under ATEI initiated to engage our unemployed youth from the ages of 18 to 35 in skills acquisition, so as the can be self-reliant.
How many youth have you empowered so far?
So far, we have been able to train over 1000 youths from Niger state under my coordination as the state leader of ATEI independently.
What is the organisation’s relationship with government?
On my appointment as Niger state Coordinator, I was given an orientation which made me believe the that the support of the government at the highest level was in full, but after registering more than 3000 youths for the AYEP programme, the whole story changed. However, we were fortunate enough in Niger because our state activities in the state captured the attention of our Governor, he commended our efforts and also helped in empowering many of our trainees through the state’s Sure-P Youth Empowerment Programme. In collaboration with the state’s Director General of Sure-P, we still have a number of youth empowerment initiatives in the pipeline.
How are you funded?
We normally contribute among ourselves to train our youth, but at times people who appreciate what we are doing encourage us by contributing to pay our resource persons.
How are the people you have trained faring ?
Honestly, I am very proud of the whole thing today. If I travel around the state, I find the youth very busy. It is no longer as it used to be. Some install and fix satellite, some make beautiful beads and a lot of them produce liquid soaps, germicide, disinfectants, air freshener and more.
What do you want to achieve with ATEI in the next 10 years?
I hope by the year 2016, not up to 10 years from now, Niger state will become industrial and will attract investors as today we are doing our best to create small businesses for our youth to become entrepreneurs and become self-reliant.