By Ibironke Ariyo
Okonkwo made the call during a football talent show tagged “Study and play football scholarship empowerment programme” on Saturday in Abuja.
He said that the two are essentials in sustaining a lasting empowerment as well as engender economic development through the contribution of the large number of youths in the country.
He was nominated by the Committee of Youth on Mobilisation and Sensitisation (CYMS) as the brand ambassador of the project.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a Dubai-based football club, Gulf United FC and CYMS are working on plans to offer both academic and football scholarship to 120 Nigerian youth.
The club was a leading football academy in the UK and Middle East that had been committed to mentoring young people in both football and academic career.
The aim of the programme was to raise professional footballers that would also be highly educated in other professional fields as engineering, law, medicine among others.
Speaking at the event, Okonkwo said that there was urgent need for the government to step up in addressing the major problems affecting the growths of the youths in Nigeria.
He also called for the review of the educational system to cater to improve teaching and learning as well as eliminate the incessant industrial actions by lecturers.
“Now even if the youths go to school, they are unemployable. Most of the lecturers do not even know how to use ICT, is it the student that will then know how to use it?.
“So, we need to overhaul the education system so that we will be churning out employable graduates and the lecturers should also learn how to sit down and teach.
“However, the government should also learn how to treat them well in terms of salary and welfare,” he said.
The veteran actor said that youth empowerment was key as it was one of the ways to inspire them.
“So, getting a collaboration between the foreign and the domestic people to help the youth to learn and to play is one of the best things you can do for youths.
“This is so because at their useful age, they are prone to entertainment, they have the strength and the charisma and when they are reading alongside playing, you have given them a total package.
“They are acquiring skills, they are using their talent and acquiring knowledge as well. This is just what I have as a dream for the youth, having been blessed with talents in Nigeria.
“As the ambassador of this project, I want to make sure that every Nigerian child has a skill, talent and vocation and has the knowledge and wisdom to go with them,” he said.
Head Scout and Consultant, Gulf United Nigeria Showcase, Mr Marcellinus Anyanwu, said that unemployment would reduce drastically in a country filled with educated people.
Anyanwu described education as a meal ticket to greatness, urging the youths to make best use of the opportunity that would be given to them.
The Director, Gulf United FC, Mr Jordi Shiel, said that the football club was looking forward to seeing the greatness in the youths to be given the scholarship.
Shiel said he believed that after the empowerment programme, the youths would positively impact Nigeria and the world at large.
Nwaka said that the group was delighted to be facilitating the project to help curb unemployment in the country.(NAN)