Nuggets for gainful youth employment in Nigeria
Nuggets for gainful youth employment in Nigeria. DESPITE political independence from Great Britain on October 1, 1960, and its rich, abundant human and material resources, Nigeria has been struggling to become a force to be reckoned with among the comity of nations. To move forward, the country needs to take a look at critical issues strategic to national development, some of which were brought to the fore by a former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Tunde Lemo, when he delivered a lecture titled, Nigerian Youths: Opportunities for Gainful Employment Inspite of Economic Circumstances, at the 28th and 29th Combined Convocation Ceremonies of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Lemo noted that many people are unsure of what the future holds for young graduates, especially now that the situation in the country is completely different from what was experienced about 40 years ago when top employers of labor, such as oil companies and top international accounting firms, would visit campuses and arrange for interviews for brilliant students, who would get job offers even before they proceeded for the National Youth Service Corps scheme. In the 25-page convocation lecture, he defined entrepreneurship as the capacity and willingness to develop and organize a business venture with its inherent risks to make a profit. On the other hand, relying on the American Heritage Dictionary, he described an intrapreneur as someone within a large organization, who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable and finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation. Hence, intrapreneurs behave like entrepreneurs, only that they operate within defined boundaries of a corporate environment.
Lemo, a first-class Accounting graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and Chartered Institute of Bankers gave examples of individuals, who have flourished from intrapreneurial activities. They include the founders of Adobe Systems Incorporation, John Warnock and Charles Geschke, initial employees of Xerox, but today, drove Adobe’s capitalization to $219 billion, amounting to the world’s 44th most valuable by market capitalization.
He added that intrapreneurial activities are also found within government circles through pioneering ideas and changing the way the government does business for effectiveness and efficiency. The lecturer lamented that nearly 60% of those that are unemployed are youths between the ages of 15-24 and mainly graduates, saying youth unemployment is like a ticking time bomb, though many people believe that Nigerian graduates are unemployable due to lack of employability skills and failure of school curriculum to place emphasis on practical concept of entrepreneurship, among other reasons. Lemo, who is Chairman of the Federal Emergency Road Maintenance Agency, makes a case for vocational training, skills development, and work experience to enhance the employability of such young people; while there must be intense interaction between the town and gown, institutional frameworks and capacity should be put in place to enable young people to have access to information and knowledge that can help them navigate the labor market and having job-friendly policies and demand-side measures that can help them gain valuable work experience, just to mention a few.
He explained that the CBN continues to sustain its interventions in priority sectors and segments of the economy with the potential for delivering economic growth, job creation, food and industrial raw materials self-sufficiency, and economic diversification. Lemo also talked about the Boost Africa joint initiative, between the African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank aimed at harnessing the continent’s potential and creating opportunities across the various components of the initiative, which is expected to be around €250 million, leveraging €1 billion in investments, supporting 1,500 SMEs, creating 25,000 direct jobs and at least, 70,000 indirect jobs. He stated that Nigeria’s huge population provides a virile market and dominant role in the Economic Community of West African States region that accounts for 40% contribution to the body as of 2020.
Not only that, it allows for natural resource endowment because Nigeria is blessed with a variety of natural resources that could serve the course of intrapreneurship in the areas of crude oil, gas, and solid minerals in commercial quantities. Lemo, however, believes that though the current climate for employment and entrepreneurship in Nigeria may not be ideal, the country would get over it, just like China did through an uncommon transformation, which has assumed the current status of a manufacturing powerhouse and a net lender of capital to the global economy. And the way forward? The former CBN Deputy Governor concludes by charging all stakeholders to endeavor to rise up to the challenge by making the university system undertake a comprehensive review of its curricula with a view to meeting the developmental aspirations of Nigeria.
Furthermore, there is a need to re-order priorities and dedicate more resources to research and development to generate ideas and innovations as universities partner with the industry to generate the required funding for teaching and research. In the final analysis, beyond Lemo’s nuggets on how youths can be gainfully employed, it is important to equally look at the debilitating factors that continue to inhibit the development of Nigeria, which the countries cited by Lemo, such as the US and China, have been able to tackle to a large extent. These include the menace of corruption, nepotism, tribalism, godfatherism, and religious bigotry that have become a recurring decimal in Nigeria. Dr. Kupoluyi writes from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State.