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Bodies groom UNILAG first-class undergraduates on management  

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By Bankole Shakirudeen Adeshina 

About  200 first-class-graded undergraduate students of the University of Lagos, Akoka, have been trained on Leadership and Efficient Management Skills in the workplace. 

The empowerment programme held Tuesday, and to be repeated in the University of Port Harcourt and University of Ibadan later this month, was to address the issue of low quality graduates being churned out by Nigerian universities into the labour market.

It is also an effort to produce competitively outstanding and managerial efficient employees.

According to the organisers, General Electric, in collaboration with the Foundation for Leadership and Education Development (FLED), and J. Soji-George & Co, a Business and Management Consultancy outfit, there are efforts to extend the benefit to other categories of  students, provided there are more funding partners.

At different times, the facilitators admonished the students that it’s true that multinational companies are seeking first-class graduates for employment, but added that such students have to demonstrate the competences beyond academic sophistry.

For Dr. Tayo Otubanjo, a Harvard-trained research and management executive at Lagos Business School, “to be an effectual and effective manager in a workplace, you must prove your brilliance beyond the academic intelligence.

“You must be able to build yourself into an irresistible brand. And you must communicate this brand very well. Your ability to articulate your thoughts, present it in a confident and convincing way must not be faulted. You need efficient communication skills to excel.”

Beyond the effective use of communication skill, Dr. Sunday Adebisi, Director, Entrepreneurship Center of UNILAG,  added that such a candidate must be a good team player and must not only be driven by fat salary.

According to him, “for you  to excel in the labour market, you must exhibit competence in working effectively and successfully with the others. Your academic excellence must reflect your ability to integrate properly in a team.

“And some of the essential ingredients required for an excellent team player are the ability to integrate ideas with others in an intellectually competitive and robust manner and without necessarily leaving anybody behind. A team player must be competitive-driven, listens attentively and appreciate other dissenting voices, work hard beyond mare financial reward, but personal and corporate integrity of self and the company.

“A perfect example of a team player leader in the international politics is the former President of America, Mr. Barak Obama. Researches have shown that there was no question he was asked throughout his eight years tenure that he never had the right answer for.

“But compared to the current President of same country, Mr. Donald J. Trump, you will see that the difference is clear. In the last two years since Trump found himself in the arena of America politics till his assumption of power six months ago, he has never answered any question currently. If you watch him closely, he is always in a hurry to talk. He doesn’t listen to others but himself.  That is why he has been facing administrative challenges and the media would continue to latch on that to mess him up,” he added.

Rosemary Danesi, a PhD holder in Labour and Employment Law, was worried about the unregulated activities of foreign companies in the country, especially as it relates to casual employment.

She said “the lack of regulatory frame work for casual employment across board has given unchecked power to all companies, including multinationals to abuse Nigerian workers without any respite whatsoever.”

She therefore admonished “the National Assembly to look into this as part of avenues to address the challenge of unemployment and all employment-related poverty and social vices in the country.

Speaking to newsmen at the event, Dr. Soji George, a Senior Partner at J. Soji-George & Co, said as an outsourcing recruitment expert, the seminar on soft skills inculcation on the top-graded under graduates students was the missing link between their academic brilliance and in becoming globally sought managers.

He added that “our ultimate objective is to, at the end of the day, produce about 1000 world class managers. As an international outsourcing recruitment expert, who had lived in the United Kingdom for 26 years, I have found it difficult to get good guys for international opportunities here in Nigeria.

“And the simple reason is not because they lack academic excellence. How to brand themselves; How to dress, talk, present themselves and communicate their excellence. And that is why we are taking the campaign to Ahmadu Bello University on the 12th of August and the University of Port Harcourt next week.,” he added.

One of the participating students, Nathan Odiase Osareme, a final year student of Psychology Department, pleaded for the extension of the programme to the low-graded students.

“This is more important because I know of some of my friends who are probably more brilliant than I am but fell off first-class grade probably because of sickness, death of loved ones, financial challenge and others,” he submitted.