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VP, Igbo leaders move to reposition Igba boyi, apprenticeship modal

VP, Igbo leaders move to reposition Igba boyi, apprenticeship modal

By Okechukwu Onuegbu

Igba Boi is a foremost Igbo apprenticeship modal or scheme which has produced thousands if not millions of billionaires of South Eastern extraction across the world. Under the scheme, a businessman, whether established or not, would willingly bring in a young but vibrant boy usually from a well cultured or well behaved family to be housed, fed, nurtured, trained and empowered to own and transact similar enterprise within the locality or elsewhere. 

The  business relations mostly come with formal agreement, written or oral, between the oga (master) with his family and the family of potential nwa boi (learner or servant). The agreement is expected to stipulates how many years the boy would be under the man as a father, guardian, tutor and business promoter so as to gain , skills arequisite experience  and maturity before been freed and empowered with necessary resources to become a master.

The unique thing about this entrepreneurial scheme is it’s ability to bring in two male adults or adult man and a teenager from different sociocultural and family background as oga and nwa boi. Again, it leads to business expansion, growth, long lasting relationship and development. As nwa boi is freed or empowered to own his, he would not only bring in a learner under his fold but build and sustain ties with his former boss by buying goods from him, introducing each to new opportunities, providing and attending to others financial needs, social events, among others, thereby building connections and networks bigger than ‘intercontinetal cartels' even after the deaths of the 'first master’ and servant.

But with time the scheme seemed to be on decline as people chose to quick means of making money, including politics, advanced fee fraud and cultism, leading to the joblessness, death, to name but a few. Angered by the ugly trend, notable Igbo sons and daughters have risen to occasion to reposition the Igba Boi in line with the modern trends by organising workshops, seminars, endowing research grants and others towards the direction.  

Last week at Awka, the State capital, Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) and Awka Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (AwkaCCIMA), organised a national summit where in stakeholders including the Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo extolled the contributions of Igba Boi to economic development of the country and advocated ways of reviving and sustaining it.

Osinbajo, who spoke virtually at the event tagged National Summit on Igbo Apprenticeship with a theme “Repositioning the Igbo Apprenticeship Scheme for Sustainable Economic Development”, described the scheme as “most popular indigenous Nigerians economic institution globally recognised as the world largest business incubator good for sustainable prosperity.”

He pledged federal government support to the programme, noting that the world would be glad to receive its outcome and see how to implement them for a refined and improve economic growth in this 21st century.

In a keynote address, the Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines Company Limited, Dr Obiora Okonkwo, said the reawakened interest in reinvigorating Igbo Apprenticeship was an indication that more people were worried about the decay of Igbo society and the growing trend of joblessness and its attendant negative effects including indulgence in destructive drugs and all forms of crime.


Okonkwo, who earlier commissioned a research on the subject matter at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, traced the root of the scheme to precolonial Nigeria, adding that it was more than skills acquisition venture because “It is about inculcating the right values required to be a respected member of society- Ezi Afa Ka Ego (Good name is better than money) as our people often say.”

“This was the bedrock that saw young boys from very poor homes climb the social ladder, registering their presence of not only arrival, but also a vehicle for the transformation of others, who would have been forgotten as dregs of society. The apprenticeship scheme in its original model has, undoubtedly, served us well up to this point.

“ However, the world of Commerce is drastically changing and we must reinvent the apprenticeship system to be responsive to the business and industrial needs of today, along with the skills acquisition and value chain such new processes require. Ladies and gentlemen, that was why I decided to sponsor the apprenticeship study through the Pro-Value for Humanity Foundation which I am the founder and chairman. 

“The research project titled Invigorating Igbo Entrepreneurial Behaviour through Enhanced Apprenticeship Scheme which was instituted at the Business School of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka took off in August 2020 with Prof. Au. N. Nonyelu as principal investigator with other team members. The report of the study was finally presented on October 20, 2021. 

“In inaugurating the study, I challenged the researchers to also work to identify emergent entrepreneurial and investment opportunities, including hi-tech and biotech start-ups with potential value chains that current generation Igbo entrepreneurs can key into to help drive the re-industrialization of Anambra State in particular and the south east in general. I also expressed hope that outcome of the study, if fully harnessed, will help put Anambra state and southeast in general, on a pre-eminent development pedestal that other states in the entire country will want to copy,” he noted.

According to him, the study by Prof. Nnonyelu had found among other things that the scheme suffers setback at present age due to increasing role of sales persons, mostly girls; and loss of family and cultural values in Igbo land. It further recommended reconceptualization, rebranding and repackaging of Igba Boyi as Nkwado Ogalanya (literally, preparing for greatness), establishment of Ministry of Apprenticepreneurship in all South Eastern States,  establishment of a contributory fund to support the Apprenticeship scheme through seed capital for start-ups, grants and soft loans, and soliciting the support of international donor agencies and development partners for the Apprenticeship scheme.

Other speakers at the summit including the Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, Dr. Dikko Umaru Radda represented by Mr. Victor Ugwu; the Convener, Ogbako Umunna, Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo; and Chairman Folio Group, Fidelis Anosike; said the event was capable of changing the lives of youth for better.

Earlier, Conveners of the national summit, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the ABS, Chief Dr. Uche Nworah and the President of Awka Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Princess Caroline Ajuora, said the event was aimed at repositioning the Igbo apprenticeship scheme with a view to curtail vices including eradicating issues of unemployment, banditry, and ethnic agitations.

A communique raised at the end of the summit also recommended among other things, that Igbo apprenticeship scheme should be adopted in teaching young university and other higher institution graduates the skills and rudiments required to survive in their desired careers across the world, and that young people in Nigerian schools should be encouraged to combine schooling with entrepreneurial skills to help themselves and the nation at large in a more responsible manner.


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