It is often said that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. This is so true because youths who are not employed or engaged in any good venture, often engage in vices which are capable of disrupting the social order of an ordered society. Youths who are not engaged in anything meaningful engage in any means possible to get rich quick. Most of them join gangs to intimidate their rivals and people in their communities. Armed robbery gangs prowl the nation on a daily basis. Recently during the elections, an armed robbery gang attacked a bank in Lekki, Lagos State and shot dead two policemen and a teenage fish street hawker, who was hit by stray bullets. Some few weeks back in Ikorodu, Lagos State, another armed robbery gang stormed two banks and carted huge sums of money up to the sum of N100 million. Again innocent bystanders were caught up in the melee.
Nigerian universities also have their problems. Undergraduates also join cult groups and most young women engage in prostitution to stand out among their friends. Most lecturers sleep with female undergraduates and take money from both female and male students to earn scores to pass exams. Politicians and influential men in the society also engage youths in these vices to their own advantage. Business owners and even government public officers force young job seekers to either sleep with them if to get a job (sexual harassment) and bribes from them so that they can get these jobs. Most force the females to sleep with multiple men to get jobs for them. What I ask myself is this, if I were a woman, why would I sleep with so many men to give my boss contracts, when I can get it for myself?
The unemployment rate in Nigeria in the first quarter of 2015, is 24.20%, an increase from the 2011 rate which was at 23.90% and high increase from the 2006 rate which was at 5.30%. The time has come for the Federal Government and State governments to create youth entrepreneurship programs, which would engage them in forming their own businesses, thereby creating new job opportunities for the rest of them. Sustainable economic growth requires entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs create new jobs, contribute to economic expansion and become stakeholders in supporting a healthy business environment. As communities all over the world struggle to meet employment demands, the importance of establishing a next generation of entrepreneurs is important.
Government should stop the exportation of our natural and mineral resources to foreign countries. If these materials are explored for in Nigeria and also refined to finished by-products, we will not only increase our earning income or gross domestic product (GDP), we will also create new business and job opportunities for the Nigerians. Government has no business being in business and governments only major role in governance is to regulate the business environment so that business people would not take advantage of their employees/staffs and customers.
I do not know what this new Buhari administration wants to do in this area but what the former Goodluck Jonathan administration did, needs to be improved upon. Chukwuma Soludo initiated a wonderful plan where youth/adult entrepreneurs were being trained to start their own businesses and which at the end, they would get loans to start their businesses after they most have put down their business ideas in business plans. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) did not continue this program.
The former finance minister, madam Okonjo – Iweala, initiated a youth entrepreneurship program called Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YOUWIN). My hope is that this new government, embraces the program and expands on it. State governments should also embrace it. This is a major way for them to engage youths, create more jobs (governments can not create more individually) and also create new sources of generating revenue income.
Government should empower the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) function the same way the Small Business Administration of America (SBA) does. The SBA does the following;
– It provides free individual face-to-face, and internet counselling for small businesses, and low-cost training to emerging entrepreneurs and established small businesses in over 1,800 locations throughout the United States and US territories.
– It helps small businesses source for financing/funds from micro-lending to substantial debt and equity investment capital (venture capital),
– It sets goals with other federal departments and agencies to reach the statutory goal of 23 percent in prime contract dollars to small businesses. This office also provides small businesses with subcontracting procurement opportunities, outreach programs, and training.
– It testifies on behalf of small business. It also assesses the impact of the regulatory burden on behalf of small businesses. Additionally, it conducts a vast array of research on American small businesses and the small business environment.
If President Buhari wants to reduce the high unemployment rate in Nigeria, his government needs to create a youth entrepreneurship program that empowers SMEDAN to carry out the functions mentioned above. I hope something is done quickly to stem the tide of insecurity in the nation using entrepreneurship.