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Ambode, The Youth And Job Creation

Posted: May 21, 2015 at 1:06 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Susan Olije


Very soon, the Nigeria Youth Service Corps, NYSC, will be passing out a crop of new corps members. The big question, however, is: what lies ahead for them in terms of employment? The unemployment situation in the country is becoming quite alarming. Apart from the dwindling oil revenue, other critical sectors of the economy are almost in comatose. Although, in recent times, renewed emphasis has been placed on the development of the agriculture sector, but much still need to be done before agriculture could fully become the employment generating venture that it used to be.

Akinwunmi Ambode

Akinwunmi Ambode

One section of the country that is really bearing the brunt of the current economic downturn in the country is the youth. The youth represents the most vibrant and adventurous group in any society. Usually, if the prevailing condition in a given society does not offer the youth the needed platform to channel their bursting energy into positive use, they readily embrace rebellious predisposition. It is a well known fact that nature abhors vacuum. Sadly, the high unemployment situation in the country coupled with the not too impressive state of the economy; naturally make the youth vulnerable in many ways.

Recent statistics show that 60 per cent of the country’s population is youth while youth unemployment rate is estimated to be over 50 percent. Similarly, figures from the National Bureau of Statistics indicate that an average of 1.8 million youths find themselves in the labour market annually, out of which 250, 000 to 300, 000 are graduates. Today, unemployment has become a major concern in the country. Official figures from the Bureau of Statistics puts the figure at about 20% (about 30million), but this number still did not include about 40million other Nigerian youths captured in World Bank statistics in 2009. By implication, it means that if Nigeria’s population is 140 million, then 50% of Nigerians are unemployed, or worse still, at least 71% of Nigerian youths are unemployed. This is particularly disturbing and counterproductive because at least 70% of the population of this country are youths.

It, therefore, becomes imperative for governments at all levels in the country to creatively device means of addressing youth employment before the situation degenerates into a time bomb. Being the window through which the world views Nigeria, in addition to being the economic and commercial nerve center of the country and, indeed, West Africa, Lagos State holds the key to the reduction of unemployment in the country. As a result of its strategic importance to the overall national economy, if Lagos gets it right, Nigeria will, undoubtedly, get it right.

It is in view of this that one is calling on the incoming Lagos Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, to focus on issues, policies, programmes and projects that would lead to the creation of more jobs for the teeming population of unemployed Nigeria youth, which grows by the day. Fortunately, Mr. Ambode anchored his campaign agenda mostly on the need to offer the youth a better platform to impact the society.

One area through which this could become a reality is via tourism development. Tourism is a veritable instrument for socio-economic development. It impacts directly on the economy through the provision of resources and income that could be deployed to enhance economic growth, accelerate development and reduce poverty. Similarly, it is a good public relations mechanism through which a city, state or country could attract needed foreign investment. Having come to term with the socio- economic benefits of tourism, some states in the country are now drawing from the examples of cities such as New York, Hong Kong, Nairobi, Rio de Jenairo, among others, that have fruitfully utilized tourism for positive economic ends.

In Africa, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt are renowned for their rich and economically viable tourist sites. Thus, it is now fashionable for states in the country to identify and project the positive aspects of some of their communities to the attraction of people within and without their domains. For instance, the Calabar carnival staged every yuletide period reflects the Christian influence in the city; the Osun Oshogbo festival addresses the spiritual attachment of the people of Oshogbo and Yorubas beyond the city of Oshogbo to the Osun deity; the Eyo Festival as well as the Lagos (Fanty) Carnival reflect the history and culture of Lagos.

Without doubt, Lagos offers a wide variety of tourist attractions in the country. This include its historical sites, extended and roomy river and ocean beaches ideal for relaxation and other water sports, rich and varied handicrafts and other vibrant products depicting or expounding of native arts and lifestyle. However, many of these attractions are still mostly unexploited. It is, therefore, important for Mr. Ambode and his team to focus on these unexplored potentials to better the lots of youth.

Related to tourism is the entertainment industry. This is one area that is being overlooked in the country. Ironically, in places such as the United States, Mexico, and India among others, the entertainment industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise. The American Hollywood is renowned to work on annual budget that dwarfs the annual budget of most African nations. Fortunately, there are thousands of Nigerian youth who are naturally gifted to succeed in various aspects of the entertainment industry. There are talented singers, actors, models, presenters, comedians among Nigerian youth. All they need is a platform and the enabling environment to profitably make use of their talents. Hopefully, Mr. Ambode would provide the leadership that would make this happen. Luckily, he promised, during his campaigns, to lift the youth through the revival of the entertainment industry. Now is the time to fulfill that pledge.

Sports development is another area where Mr. Ambode could harness the potentials of the youth. It is quite clear that, globally, sport has become a money spinning venture. The organisation and management of sport in Europe, for instance, is a multi million dollars venture. Indeed, all sorts of professionals-doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists, grass men, scouts, etc-are employed by the various sporting clubs in their drive for sporting glory.  Football, in particular, has gone beyond the mere recreational activity that it is in Nigeria. As a result of the excellent manner it is managed in Europe, youths across the continent have found in football a means through which they could use their talents to escape poverty. Young players such as Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabrigas, Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi among others-thanks to football-have become multi millionaires before they clocked the age of twenty-one. Being an ardent football lover, as he supports Chelsea FC of England, Mr. Ambode must evolve policies and programmes that would use sport as a job creation platform for the youth. If it is possible in Europe, it could be replicated in Nigeria,

The youth represents the future of every nation. Any nation that is desirous of progress must not joke with her youth. Being a young and dynamic leader, one sincerely hopes Mr. Ambode’s era as the Governor of Lagos State would usher in a new dawn for the youth. Corporate organisations, NGO’s, individuals and other related institutions should partner with Mr. Ambode to give the youth a new lease of life. This is the right thing to do. This is the way forward.

•Olije wrote in from Alausa, Ikeja.