This week on the PANEL, 4 distinguished panelists weigh in on the major problems facing Nigerian youths, especially entrepreneurs, and they have proffered practical solutions. Ready already? Let’s hear them:
About sixty per cent of Nigeria’s population is youth. This is a large percentage and we can safely say that whatever affects the Nigerian youth definitely affects the nation. There are many issues affecting youths.
Education is important. Nigerian youth are being denied a proper education that will prepare them to compete in the labor market with their peers. A good education will provide a child with an increased chance of taking advantage of opportunities to be successful in life. Unfortunately, some people have it better than others. Most of these young Nigerians cannot acquire quality tertiary education as Nigerian universities are suffering from a reversal of fortunes.
Students are being discouraged from reading during secondary school certification examinations because of question-paper leaks. They pass through Nigerian universities, which are plagued with terrible facilities as a result of infrastructural decay. Today, there are little or no scholarships anywhere for those that cannot afford to pay their way through schools unlike in the past when there were series of scholarships. A typical Nigerian youth survives in a nine-in-a-room accommodation in university hostels. Their female colleagues are subjected to assaults by lecturers to get good grades.
Galloping unemployment has reduced young Nigerians to guinea pigs in the laboratory of the labour market. After graduation, the reality of Nigeria’s situation hits young Nigerians in the face. They have to rely on senators, political appointees and politicians to write recommendation letters for them before they can get jobs in federal establishments. Youths have to pay hundreds of thousands of Naira to get jobs in public and private organizations. Merit no longer holds a place in the system. Today, a typical young Nigerian writes a series of tests and goes for innumerable interviews just for a 50,000 Naira job. Even in the plight of these, you’ll still see someone making up a list of prospective employees full of relations and children of friends.
Low pay service jobs
The story is not different for those who find themselves lucky to get a job; for with the job comes the realization that the Naira has been devalued and the cost of living high. The youth cannot graduate without going through the pains of a low-income job. The jobs offered with no experience pay very little with very little room for pay increases. In the past, your high school senior could graduate and go work at the local factory for the rest of his or her life and make a good living. They would not necessarily need to have a college education to survive but Youth today will graduate from college with multiple degrees and still will not find work that pays enough to sustain a decent lifestyle. The predominant features of this economic malady are jobs without job security, overworking the employee with a remuneration that is abysmally less than commensurate with the quantum of work assigned to the employee. The banks are the major culprits here, assigning outrageous targets to workers with an option of being thrown out of the job if they fail to meet targets. The average young Nigerian is unable to renew their rents and to afford some basic necessities of life.
Nigeria used to sustain itself with making its own products through manufacturing and then turning around and selling those products. The economy is shifting to more of a service industry versus a manufacturing industry. In order to cut costs and keep product prices down companies are forced to outsource manufacturing to other countries. Some companies have even begun to outsource call center jobs to keep labor costs down.
Concisely, the polity is mercilessly competitive and the environment extremely hostile for the average young Nigerian to start anything serious. Today, the Nigerian youth is advised to embrace entrepreneurship, yet, the government would not create the enabling environment for such enterprise to thrive. Because nothing is done on merit, the average young person comes away with the impression that hard work and intelligence do not pay. The environment is not enabling enough for them to start sustainable businesses for those who wish to go entrepreneurial. No access to loans from banks, limited access to loans from the government, no access to meaningful skilled acquisition trainings and no serious policy to address fundamentally the issue of unemployment by the different Nigerian governments. Youths still have to depend on their parents for livelihood upon graduation.
As if the tales of woes are not enough, there is a deliberate policy of exclusion being pursued at the highest echelon of the government against the Nigerian youths. The objective behind this policy is to ensure that the Nigerian youth is excluded from participating in government. This is quite unlike in the 1960s and the 1970s when Nigerian leaders were in their 20s and 30s. Today, unless some of these youths are PAs to PAs to PAs to an SA of a minister, they would have no input in Nigeria’s governance. It is an impossibility to see a youth of less than 33 that is a minister or governor or even a commissioner. The Nigerian youths are assigned youth development ministers who are in their 60s and who have no idea of what the average Nigerian youth is passing through. Entry into politics is so costly that the youths cannot even attempt it. What is more? No one believes in them anyway.
Most government interventions to tackle the challenges of the Nigerian young population have not been implemented properly. Apart from that, such interventions suffer from inadequate and effective monitoring, sustainability and the absence of a political will to drive these interventions. The consequence is that the impacts of these interventions are minimal with the brutal reality of what Nigerian youths are passing through.
It is high time the government came up with an agenda to address the challenges of the Nigerian youth. Sustainable interventions should be generated. There is the need for a robust plan from the government, which should accommodate all the young people. Similarly, the state governors should come up with sustainable plans for the youth at the state level.
The government should come up with a clear strategy on how to revamp the educational institutions. Education should be entrepreneurial driven. The government should increase the incentives for Private Sector Capital Inflow, adjust policy to focus more on I.T development especially by creating the enabling environment for youth capacity building in that area. There is the vital need to diversify the economy, empower the fabrication and development of a local content market, which should be flooded by young people especially in Aba, Lagos and Onitsha areas.
Scholarship schemes for skill acquisition should be instituted and such scholarship schemes should cover sports. Sports here is not just football. Youth participation in governance should be made a priority. Youths should be made ministers and commissioners and be appointed in other key positions so they can be involved in governance. A policy of sanitization and involuntary retirements of the older generation especially those who have put in 20 years and above in the service should be pursued vigorously. There should be a gradual generational shift in these parastatals and ministries.
Mentoring relationships should be developed between the old and young generation. It is common knowledge that the older generation has been corrupted and has proven to be not only intractable but also incorrigible. Every young Nigerian craves a better society. Involving them more in governance will make change easier to attain. Young people by their nature may be radical but they are impressionable and, consequently, pliable. There is no doubt that such a strategy will reduce the economic waste that occurs in political offices.
Conscious efforts should be made to encourage export for made in Nigeria wears. Nigerian clothes are summer friendly; thus, there is a ready teeming market in Europe and the Middle East. Nigeria is about the only African country that consumes what it produces. This is a sad tale. If quality is injected in Nigerian wears, and heavy taxation imposed on imported clothes, Nigeria’s local fashion indsutry will flourish naturally. This is vital because 90 per cent of the
fashion industry is run by the youths. Industrial farms should be set up using PPP to teach youths modern agricultural techniques, and ultimately, to fund them to go into agriculture.
The Police Force and Civil Service need a lot of fresh blood. The reorientation, which is part of the NYSC programme should be introduced into the Civil Service. The elections which were handled confidently by corps members of the National Youth Service Corps scheme is a clear pointer that the Nigerian youth is ready to take up challenges in national service, their only snag is the absence of opportunities.
Oni Oluyomi is a member of PROJECT X and Team leader of COUNT DOWN crew. She is also a writer and entrepreneur passionate about inspiring people.
OLABISI SAMUEL OLAYIWOLA
The recurring subject of the challenges faced by the Nigerian youths has been a very topical issue and has attracted both emotionally and objectively motivated views of whoever cares to contribute. Some of the highlighted points that have gained widespread acceptance amongst contributors and discussants overtime includes but not restricted to the following points:
- Policy of Exclusion in politics
- Ethno-religious Violence
- Educational disparity
- Poverty etc
With the above mentioned menaces, one would be quick to come to the conclusion that Nigerians especially the youths are in for a lot of trouble; some of which are beyond their control.
What if I told you that the youths are rather the problem of this country and their selves and not the other way round! Sounds crazy right?
We have always been swift and speedy to blame our politicians and corrupt leaders for every misfortune that befall us, forgetting that most of these menaces are actually masterminded and perpetrated by these same youths, a classic example of which are the several cases of serious violence in virtually all the regions in the country, stemming from either political or religious differences leaving behind a mess of the already inadequate infrastructures and facilities.
Nigerian youths are quick to cry foul, lament and give a lengthy explanation as to how the government has been the source of their misfortunes by not providing them with their desired white collar jobs which would changed the situation of things for them.
The youths have therefore resigned to FATE! Leaving their God-given creative and innovative mind to rot and lie in waste. We continue to see ourselves as the leaders of tomorrow rather than the leaders of today! We leave our destinies in the hands of some old men who don’t care about us, because if they actually did, they would have proffered a solution to our problems.
The white collar job mentality that has gained widespread acceptance overtime and which has also been the rationale behind our attempts to get a higher education has in no small measure killed our creative spirit, hindering us from going the extra-mile! Accepting that the white collar job is the only gateway to a successful life.
Have you ever wondered how the majority of Nigerian youths blame the government for not providing them with the enabling environment for business to thrive, yet they excel so well in evil vices ranging from internet/cyber crimes and fraud to kidnapping and all other get-rich-quick means. This has no other explanation than the glaring fact that the Nigerian youths are suffering from a self inflicted mental poverty which has restricted their creative prowess.
If using examples of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and other super internet mogul seem relatively unfair or far away, why don’t we then take a cue from successful Nigerian youths like Linda Ikeji and the founders of Jobberman and Andela. These guys are Nigerian youths that have chosen to succeed even in the face of the same problems that some have allowed to destroy their dreams and Aspirations.
The youths cry that they are not allowed to participate in politics, but how many of the youths are really ready in terms of character and competence? The youths that venture into politics do so because they believe that it might be their easy opportunity to amass wealth and other accomplishments and not because they want to make an impact.
It might be imperative to state here that if given all the required elements and ingredients of success, only those who are prepared and willing to do good for themselves will actually succeed!
Wole soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Ola Rotimi, Fela Anikulapo Kuti etc. were not the only youths during their era, but they were the ones willing to take advantage of the available opportunities back then. If things were that good and success was so automatic, then all of our fathers from the past were supposed to have recorded success stories; but alas, not all the youths back then still came out successful even with the relatively good governance and administration available.
The average Nigerian youth envies big names like Dangote, Otedola, Alakija, Adenuga etc but few want to pay the price. Nigerians are noted for their love for luxuries ranging from Phones to clothing and accessories! Guess what, a large percentage of the users of these high end luxuries are the youths.
Products manufactured in the country are avoided like plague by these same youths only to go for sub-standard goods made outside the country to satisfy their pride thereby depleting the nation of our forex reserve.
Conclusively, taking a cursory look at the above points, one would see that we are our greatest challenge as youths and the earlier we change our mentality of dependability the better for us and the country at large.
Olabisi samuel olayiwola is the CEO of snow-whyte cleanings & maintenance service and Team lead for ARGAD-ASSOCAITION, An NG.
OLAOYE FLORENCE OLUWASEUN
The major problem facing young entrepreneurs in Nigeria is the capital to run the business. If the cost of setting up has been taken care of, what of funds to keep it running? This might be hard because the rate of turnover in this present economic situation is quite low.
Today, the rate of competition is high. Only the fittest survive, only entrepreneurs with enough technical know-how and experience thrive.
Some entrepreneurs are not ready to be subjected to long years of training thereby falling into pitfalls that could have easily been avoided.
The solution is knowing the right business plan and market strategy. Also, entrepreneurs should endeavor to be truthful and trustworthy. They are the business and the business is them not the products they are selling. Entrepreneurs should sell quality products that are worthy of the price paid by their clients.
With entrepreneurship, income is unlimited and one can get rich provided there is passion, know-how and capital!
Olaoye Florence Oluwaseun is a graduate of Economics from University of lbadan. She’s currently a public servant in Oyo state Judiciary.
A proper dissection of what Nigeria’s youths are going through will lead us into the what the problem is. Talking politically, I will say unemployment is a major problem, socially I’ll say moral decadence is a problem, psychologically I will say emotional problems, inability to make the appropriate decisions at the right time and what about health challenges that can spring up anytime?
All these combined create a vicious cycle of organized chaos. For instance, an unemployed youth might tend to pick up an habit that is not healthy, moral decadence comes into play, health situation follows. Similarly a youth that has health challenge might not be able to get a job, then he will live a poor life. In the long run, I think the major problem the youth are facing is the lack of infrastructure to help different categories of youth according to their different problems or situation so they can be well adjusted into the society.