By Daud Olatunji
ACCORDING to the National Bureau of Statistics 2016 national youth survey report, approximately 56 per cent of youths of working age, who are between 15 and 35 years are either unemployed or under-employed. Both states and the Federal government were facing the serious challenges of employment which many people have described as a time bomb that might explode anytime soon except urgent and proper steps are taken.
Apparently irked by the rapid rate of the menace of unemployment mostly among the youth, Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, his predecessor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel as well as bank chiefs have provided the way out. While Amosun and some bank chiefs addressed youth in all the local government areas of the state on how to curb lingering unemployment, his predecessor in a separate programme also meant for youth reiterated the need for paradigm shift.
Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun
Governor Amosun, who spoke at the opening ceremony of a two-day youth convention, held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, quoted a World Bank report that unemployment had not decreased since 1999 and, that in particular, youth unemployment has been on the rise.
Employers of labour
According to Amosun, both the Federal and State governments must come up with policies that would help in making the youths employers of labour, the youths need the full support of the governments to turn commercial ideas into marketable businesses.
He said: “Unemployment among the youth is put at 35.9 per cent, which when compared with national overall unemployment of 21.1 per cent is significantly high. To ensure that there are enough jobs for our youth today and for those that will enter the labour market in 30 years, there must be a deliberate policy to support our youth in setting up their own companies; we must equip them to earn their own wages. The good news is that our youths are ready to be their own bosses.
“So our focus at this youth convention is to show young people the many ways they could go. During and after this programme, we will work with the participants on acquiring the skills, tools and support necessary to become employers of labour- who knows, they may as a result of this youth convention be our future billionaires. To arrive at this envisaged future, we must assist our youth to translate commercial ideas into marketable businesses.”
He submitted that there must be a deliberate policy to support the youth in setting up their own business and equiping them to earn wages in order to put the population, which he put above that of entire countries like France, UK, Italy and Argentina, to use. Amosun identified key sectors of agriculture, housing, ICT, commerce and industry, environment sports, entertainment and hospitality as alternatives to the teeming Ogun State youth.
The governor said World Bank report had shown that agriculture is 11 times more effective at reducing poverty than any other sector in sub-Saharan Africa. He explained that the country is blessed with 50.4 million hectares of uncultivated arable land usable for agriculture and 263 billion cubic metres of water to assist all year round farming. Encourage best brains — Daniel
In his remarks, Otunba Gbenga Daniel while meeting with the organisers of an inter-tertiary institutions debate competition tagged JawJaw Africa, who paid him a visit in his Sagamu residence, urged the stakeholders to encourage nest brains in the country.
He urged the government to create a platform for the young and talented people in the country, saying, “the American military for instance, adopted a friend of mine who we went to university together. We call him Brain-Box. He is one Akinwade, a professor.
While he was in UI, I was in Lagos and he was such a brilliant student. As soon as America discovered that he is a good material, they seized him. In fact, he cannot travel out of America because he is more or less the brain behind most of their projects and not only that, they give him everything he needs to be comfortable. So, they created opportunities for people out there.
“Part of what we did but were misunderstood was when we went out to the streets and started picking up the boys who were actually like security threats and risks and I remember that I did march them to Abeokuta sports complex and created a boxing ring and I said look, why are you disturbing the peace of the state? Go and be boxing yourselves, if you box well you can become an international boxer.
That is because the legends in boxing did not fail us and there is nothing that you do that you cannot make it as long as you do it well and along the line, you also notice that, we do not only encourage the arts but we had a band that we put in the system and encourage people to sing.
“In the same way, where you have people who are comedians, musicians, artists and so on, in Nigeria, we have not placed enough premium on people who are using their brain to add value to the society. Once upon a time, no one listened to African music but the times have changed.”
Meanwhile, some banks chiefs such as the co-founder of Guaranty Trust Bank, Fola Adeola and the chairman of First Bank Plc., Ibukun Awosika, have challenged Nigerian youths to be self-reliant by engaging in entrepreneurial activities instead of relying on white collar jobs that are not available.