By Onis Sampson
The National Directorate of Employment in order to reduce unemployment rate in the country set up two big agricultural parks each in Katsina and Ondo States. Each of these parks is approximately 30 hectares in land size This is part of the federal government’s efforts at curbing the rate of unemployment in Nigeria. Suffice to say that several measures of this kind have been made by the government to tackle the perennial problem of unemployment and joblessness in the land. Deplorably the problem keeps on escalating.
Again, I re-emphasize– the level of unemployment in our country today keeps escalating. The statistics we have at hand are glaringly disturbing. Statistics given by the National Bureau of Statistics in the second quarter of 2015 showed that the unemployment rate was prevalent amongst young people between the ages of 15 and 34. According to same statistics given, unemployment was highest for those between the ages of 15 and 24 in the second quarter of 2015, also.
In the first quarter of 2015, the unemployment rate was pegged at 13.7 percent but in the second quarter it had jumped to 14.9 percent for the category of young persons between the ages of 15 and 24. The same National Bureau of Statistics in its publication put the unemployment rate at 14.2% in the first quarter of 2016. The situation doesn’t appear to be any better in 2017.
Now this is indeed disturbing. It is disturbing for myriad of reasons both readily available to mind and the ones far-fetched. It is disturbing because for one thing, it calls for concrete actions to be put in place by all stakeholders in cushioning the hard effects of the unemployment palaver. Stakeholders, of course, isn’t just the government. Every one desirous of a better pay, a job, a going concern, etc, comes under this stakeholder categorization.
On another plane of the paradigm shift which we hope to set with this piece, it is imperative saying categorically here that the problem of unemployment in our country isn’t one that should be x-rayed or looked at with the visor of a fault-finder nor should we resort wholly to blame tactics targeted at the government. We know that previous administrations have failed. We know that the available number of jobs out there is not commensurate with the number of graduates and job seekers in the labour market. I think in the light of these well known facts, what we should be concerned with are simple questions of this kind: What are the solutions to these problems? How do we tackle job scarcity? Do we encourage the age long mentality that virtually all our graduates must seek for white-collar jobs? Have we been encouraging this? If in the affirmative, in what ways? Expressly, impliedly or by conduct? These are some of the pressing questions this piece seeks to address in unambiguous terms. It is my core belief that self-employment, entrepreneurship, SMEs– and whatever coinage you decide to come up with– is the way out of this problem for persons facing same. The premise of this piece is hinged, therefore, on the need for entrepreneurship amongst Nigerian youths.
The truth is this: small and medium scale enterprises and businesses have come to stay for good. And the time has come for the average Nigerian youth to take his mind off the 9 to 5 job course and think more on entrepreneurial opportunities. It’s time that he starts thinking of a business he can start; something he’s got passion for. Sitting at home waiting for oil company jobs and jobs in big corporations may just be an effort in futility and a waste of productive years. He must be ready to roll his sleeves and do something with his life!
And let me take things a little relaxed and informal here, and a little motivational too! — it’s time you’d be ready to damn the critics, damn the side talks, damn the gossips, damn those whose lips are laden with provocative utterances; whose primary satisfaction will be to mock you and have an effect on you. See, someone else’s opinion about you is insignificant. Learn to live your life on your own terms. Never live on public opinion. Disregard critics! Never see any job as too demeaning; never see any business as too condescending. Take your eyes off those certificates and qualifications which have only succeeded in warping your mentality, fixing you in a box, and numbing your potentials.
If you should be ready to start that business nudging on your inside today, be ready to begin with little or no capital, be ready to stand the tough times common with most businesses at the beginning, then you’d be ripe for bigger exploits in the nearest future. It translates into this simple fact that in no time you’ll become an employer of a large labour face. It all lies in your mind. If you think you can, then you can. If you think you can’t then certainly that’s your own prognostics.
Think about a business idea. One that you have knowledge on. Or if you don’t have the knowledge, one that you have passion for—thereafter knowledge can be obtained. Learn more about a skill, business or trade and then start now. Procrastination, they say, is a thief of time.
Here’s the thing:
- Start now because time waits for no man
- Start now because there can never be a better time than now. The only exception to this rule is if you’re yet to acquire the basic skills
- Start now because the Buhari administration’s economic policy of encouraging local content will help your business grow. If you’re very observant, you’d discover that one of the policy thrust of the present administration is to strengthen the local industries by reducing to a realistic minimum the third world mentality of over-dependence on imported goods.
What took Singapore from a third world nation to a first world nation were drastic economic policies which were criticized at the time by many economic experts but which turned out to be desirable in the long run. Change comes with resistance, complaint, excuses, lethargy from those who least understand the internal workings of a government’s economic drive. Starting your business in a time when things aren’t just right is the best decision you could ever make today. Never wait for the colossal capital to arrive. Experience has shown that persons who have not managed businesses at cottage stages where there is little capital will find it difficult managing millions of Naira if given such.
Perhaps, you should jettison (for the time being) the idea of job-hunting. If indeed you think you’re not cut out for the business world there’s certainly no harm in trying your hands at small businesses that can put food on your table and take care of your little bills and personal upkeep. If you so desire to be in the corporate world and not in one of your own making, then I advise you see business as a side gig. Simple businesses like supplying provisions to shops in your locality, running a hair salon on a little budget, opening a kiosk, and so on may be businesses you can try your hands at.
Don’t always think of starting big. If the capital isn’t within reach, starting small becomes the ideal thing. You shouldn’t disregard this paradigm. Perhaps, that big bank loan you’re waiting for may not be the answer. There is an abundance of stories of people who have started a business with meagre sums, to wit N10, 000, N5, 000, and lesser amounts– and were able to increase the capacity of the business outfit over time. It is time we wake up: you and I, Nigerian youths who have erroneously believed that we are the leaders of tomorrow when we are actually leaders of today, the “now” and then certainly, “tomorrow”.
ONIS SAMPSON, Lawyer, blogger, writer, business consultant and entrepreneur writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria. You can reach him via the Contact Page on OnisReviewz, or through Facebook for speaking engagements, business consultancy services, and lots more.