By Olufemi Adediran, Abeokuta
Experts on Tuesday stressed the need for Nigerian youths to be self-reliant by engaging in entrepreneurial activities instead of depending of white collar jobs that are no longer available.
This view was expressed by the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, co-founder of Guarantee Trust Bank, Mr. Fola Adeola and the Chairman of First Bank Plc., Mrs. Ibukun Awosika who spoke in their different keynote addresses they delivered at the opening ceremony of a two-day Youth Convention, holding in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
The convention, with the theme, “Ogun Youths: Exploring New Frontiers” was organised by the State government to address various challenges confronting the youths.
Other objectives of the convention include to, “Enhance employability of Ogun youths in the formal and informal sectors, to catalyse a mind-set shift towards hard work, professional ethics and values, to improve the capacity of the youths to translate commercial ideas and opportunities into marketable businesses.”
Amosun in his address lamented the high rate of unemployment in the country, noting that government and the private sector could not employ all the youth.
The Governor stressed the need for all stakeholders to compliment government’s efforts “in empowering the youth” through employment.
Amosun suggested that both the Federal and State governments must come up with policies that would help in making the youths employers of labour, stressing that the youths needed the full support of the governments to turn commercial ideas into marketable businesses.
Quoting a World Bank report, Amosun explained that unemployment had not decreased since 1999 and, that in particular, youth unemployment had been on the rise.
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. If neither the public nor the private sector can employ them, we must help them to employ themselves. This is what we in Ogun State are set out to do with this Convention. This is the urgent task before us now.”
“Unemployment has been growing at a rapid rate alongside our population. The World Bank report shows that unemployment has not decreased since 1999 and, that in particular, youth unemployment has been on the rise. Unemployment among the youth is put at 35.9%, which when compared with national overall unemployment of 21.1% is significantly high”.
“The unemployment situation shows two alarming features. First, it has a gender dimension and second, a structural dimension. In terms of gender, unemployment is higher among women, especially those in rural areas. In terms of structure, it varies significantly depending on educational attainment. It reveals that unemployment rate is substantially higher amongst those with no educational qualifications. But, it becomes more compounding by the rising rate of unemployment amongst graduates. So, our approach must have geographical breath, to cover rural and urban areas; sectoral breadth to accommodate people seeking work at the two extremes of educational attainment; and must take into consideration the structural obstacles faced by all and most especially our women.”
In his keynote address, Fola Adeola who is also the founder of FATE Foundation charged government at all levels to invest more in youth development rather than building infrastructure, saying “No matter how many bridges you (government) build or how many roads you construct if you don’t empower the youths all the efforts may go to waste.”
He noted that majority of Nigerian youths have, not only lost hope in the government but have also lost hope and confidence in hard work hence their resolve to indulge in criminal activities in order to make quick money.
Adeola who spoke on “Succeeding in a Challenging Environment- The Experience of Accomplished Entrepreneur” admonished the youths to empower themselves and create jobs for themselves rather than waiting for the government employments.
He charged the youths to live a purpose driven life, built on hard work, honesty and good moral values.
To the government he affirmed, “Building people is key, let us grow people and not buildings, let us build a society where we all value human lives, a society where we live by the rule of law and not by the rules of men.”
Adeola told the youths, “Hard work is the only thing that will guarantee you a secured future. Hard work is the only thing that will present you independent of religion, gender or ethnic challenges”.
Awosika in her speech urged youths to be proactive in finding solutions to the various challenges confronting the nation, stressing “the world, right now is too challenged to solve our problems for us. We have to solve it ourselves.”
She pleaded with the Nigerian youths to improve their mindset and start thinking on how to develop themselves rather than waiting for the government.
Awosika urged youths not to be afraid of taking the risk in creating employment for themselves, adding that no job is waiting for them.
She disclosed that the youths must combined their education and natural skills together in order for them to succeed and advised them to be diligent and honest in their dealings.
“You must not allow your education to caged you. You must have courage and seek new opportunities, commitment and determination that will open door for you”