The Nigerian economy is a leading economic hub not only in the West African Sub-region but also in the entire African continent as a promising destination for investment opportunities for individuals, corporate organizations, blue chip companies and other multinationals that continuously see the Nigerian economy as an investment haven. While the activities of most of these companies have aided job creation for a section of the teeming youths, it is glaring that concerted efforts are required by all stakeholders to stem the tide of unemployment in Nigeria.
Nigerians are very enterprising and hard working people who can turn any opportunity into a money-making venture. Nigerian youths are equally very hard working and can easily convert any given opportunity to make money for themselves and better their lives even when it is obvious that the government has done little or nothing to harness the potentials of these teeming youths and develop them for the good of the nation. If Nigerians can be so enterprising to turn any opportunity to a money making venture, then imagine what they would do if the government provides the enabling and conducive environment for them to thrive! Imagine what they would do if the government makes it a point of duty to provide massive job opportunities for the people of Nigeria without paying mere lip service to the issue of creating jobs.
One of the easiest and surest ways to combat poverty in any economy is through job creation. When people have jobs, the effect is that they would be able to fend for themselves and their families and ultimately improve their standard of living as well as become useful for the development of their immediate communities. The essence of job creation can never be over emphasized in the quest for economic development of any modern nation and for Nigeria as a nation which hopes to be among the top developed economies in the world, this dream is realizable if job creation is duly given adequate priority by all stakeholders to ensure that massive job opportunities are created to engage the vibrant youths who are willing to work and also possess ideas that can make the desired changes in many organizations if given the opportunity.
Nigeria can be described as a nation with a mass of unutilized manpower that keeps wasting away in various parts of the nation without being tapped for the benefit of the nation. Hundreds of thousands of graduates are churned out yearly from various tertiary institutions in Nigeria many of whom remain jobless for several years after graduation. But it is an undeniable fact that the future of the nation lies in the youths because they hold the potentials for a lasting change and sustainable development that can move Nigeria forward. With a massive population unrivalled in the entire African continent, Nigeria has a potential of becoming a world economic power in the nearest future if its resources are efficiently harnessed to full potentials and most importantly if its human capital base is developed to full capacity.
Entrepreneurship is a veritable source of employment and wealth creation for Nigerians who desire to create wealth for themselves by starting a business of their own and nurturing it to maturity. A business empire can be created by starting small and working hard enough to maintain the business and making it grow through various stages. Many big companies in Nigeria today started small many years ago and their founders were committed in their pursuit and persevered until the businesses grew into world class brands.
Despite the challenges, Nigeria is a beautiful place to do business that any entrepreneurial minded person can succeed in business if they are willing to start something no matter how difficult it may seem at first. The most difficult aspect is in starting the business. As soon as you start, however turbulent it may be, you will begin to learn the ropes as you continue to nurture your business and sooner or later, the business will begin to make headway as long as you persevere.
To grow the Nigerian economy to a level that it would begin to compete with world class economies such as that of the US, Britain, China, Japan and other economically developed nations, entrepreneurship and job creation must be given top priority by all stakeholders. While the government holds the ace in this regard as it is expected to continuously formulate policies that will create a favourable atmosphere for businesses to thrive, it is pertinent to state that the Nigerian youths who form the bulk of the active population should be reorientated from the mentality of job hunting to job creation. If every Nigerian graduate can create at least one job opportunity for himself and is able to make a living out of this, then the problem of unemployment will be drastically reduced to the barest minimum and this will greatly reduce dependence on government to create jobs as well as reduce insecurity, armed banditry, kidnapping and other violent crimes in the country.
For Nigerians to create jobs for themselves as well as for others, there has to be that entrepreneurial spirit in them that will propel every person to think about what he or she can do for the nation and not what the nation can do for them. It is possible for Nigeria to get to that level where every citizen will have that entrepreneurially creative spirit to create jobs and make wealth for themselves for the betterment of the nation. But to do this, there must be an enabling policy to drive that consciousness into the people from cradle. What this means is that it is not enough to have entrepreneurship introduced as a course in the tertiary institutions in Nigeria, it must also as a matter of necessity be introduced to pupils right from the primary schools so that students can learn how to be enterprising right from childhood. By so doing, we would inevitably instill entrepreneurship skills into our future generation by catching them young and directing their mentality towards a worthy cause that would eventually create wealth for the nation and propel Nigeria into economic and political greatness in the comity of nations.
For many who have tried to start or run their own businesses but ended up not realizing this dream, it can be so frustrating. But as I said earlier, Nigeria is such a beautiful place to do business that you will always succeed if you don’t give up and if you are willing to keep trying. Nobody sets up a business to fail but sometimes what makes some businesses fail in Nigeria is because they cannot access the finance required to run or expand their business operations. Many enterprising Nigerians have excellent business ideas and plans but cannot actualize their dreams of setting up businesses of their choice and creating job opportunities for themselves as well as for others just because they have no access to funding to start these promising businesses that would have grown to become world class brands in the nearest future. Banks in Nigeria are reluctant or unwilling to give loans to start-ups and where they do, the resultant high interest rates and the issue of collateral are discouraging for would-be entrepreneurs. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should formulate a policy where Banks are required to give interest-free loans without cut-throat requirements to viable business ventures and ideas including start-ups to encourage the establishment of small and medium scale enterprises which constitute the engine of the economy.
Aside the challenge posed by lack of finance, Nigeria is still grappling with inadequate infrastructure which hampers business ventures and entrepreneurial development. Many towns and cities experience erratic power supply and this hampers business growth. Power must be improved to encourage people to venture into business ventures and create jobs. In the same vein, several parts of the nation have poor road network which slows business down leading to heavy loss of man-hours which would have been converted to wealth. The government has a duty to rehabilitate inter-connecting road networks and also to link up more communities by constructing more roads to fast track business activities.
To stem the tide of perennial unemployment in the nation, various governments have at various times set up entrepreneurship and empowerment programs for the youths in several parts of the country and it is said that many youths have benefitted from these programs but due to the problem of corruption and impunity, many of these gestures have not really benefited the people they are meant for. Also, the Nigerian population is growing at a geometric rate and these efforts by governments appear insignificant in the quest to reduce youth unemployment and restiveness to the barest minimum. To tackle unemployment and create lasting job opportunities for the youths, there is the need for a policy shift by government towards massive employment generation as well as the reorientation of the average Nigerian on the need to imbibe entrepreneurship spirit in order to create jobs and diversify the economy.
China is now a technological world giant and a conduit through which finished goods are manufactured and exported to various countries of the world. But China did not just achieve this feat overnight. It took several years of planning by the government, massive funding and investments and their continuous encouragement of business enterprises and entrepreneurship by their citizens. Nigeria can do same if the government can continuously create that enabling environment for businesses and entrepreneurship in the country. Nigeria has great untapped potentials and we have the potential to be like China and even better than them if only we have the right governments who would make drastic changes to the nation and make the right sacrifices that will benefit the nation.
Entrepreneurship is undeniably a potential source of wealth for both individuals and the nation and if properly harnessed, it has the capacity to engage the youths and provide employment for a vast majority of the populace thereby reducing crime, insecurity and youth restiveness. If we can develop and nurture our entrepreneurial skills, with the the enabling environment and the right support from the government, we will sooner or later create lasting wealth not only for ourselves but also for the future generation. Nigeria will succeed.
Written by Tayo Demola, a Human Rights Activist based in Lagos, Nigeria Email: firstname.lastname@example.org