Despite its political independence from Great Britain on October 1, 1960 as well as the rich and abundant human and material resources, Nigeria has been struggling hard to become a force to be reckoned with among comity of nations. To move forward, the country needs to take a look at some salient issues, which were brought to the fore by a former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Tunde Lemo in a recent lecture titled, “Nigerian Youths: Opportunities for Gainful Employment Inspite of Economic Circumstances”.
He lamented that many of us are unsure of what the future holds for young graduates.
Unfortunately, the situation in our country today is completely different from what was experienced almost 40 years ago when top employers of labour such as oil companies and top international accounting firms would visit campuses and arrange for interviews for brilliant students, many of whom got their job offers, even before they proceeded for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme even though, today’s challenges actually present fresh opportunities for new graduates. Lemo’s 25-page lecture was structured into the first part, which is introduction, section two examines entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship.
Issues affecting gainful employment in Nigeria and mitigants were discussed in section three, while section four speaks to current initiatives towards promoting entrepreneurship. Section five examines future prospects and emerging opportunities and finally, the conclusion is found in section six.
He defined the concept of entrepreneurship as the capacity and willingness to develop and organise a business venture along with its inherent risks in order to make profit. In a straight sense, entrepreneurship is simply the starting of a new business. Hence, entrepreneurs strive to meet the social, economic and developmental needs of their environment.
On the other hand, relying on the American Heritage Dictionary, he defines an intrapreneur as a person within a large organisation, who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product, through assertive risk taking and innovation.
Hence, intrapreneuers behave like entrepreneurs, but only operate within the defined boundaries of a corporate environment and it takes creativity, innovation, risk, determination and sustained commitment, to achieve results and outpace competition. Lemo, a first class Accounting graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, added that intrapreneural activities are also found within government circles because many individuals working therein have pioneered ideas that have changed the way government does business.
He lamented that nearly 60% of those that are unemployed are youths between the ages of 15-24, and a significant number of these are graduates, as he identified the factors affecting youth employment in Nigeria, saying youth unemployment in our country is like a ticking time bomb and why many people believe that many Nigerian graduates are unemployable could be traced to lack of employability skills, failure of school curriculum to place emphasis on practical concepts of entrepreneurship, too much emphasis on theoretical education than exposure to entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills.
Lemo, an Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) makes a case for vocational training, skills development and work experience as essential at enhancing the employability of young people; saying there must be intense interaction between the Town and Gown; employers of labour should have opportunities to provide input into the universities curriculum to make graduates more employable; relevant institutional frameworks and capacity need to be in place that would enable young people have access to information, knowledge and services that can help them navigate the labour market; and deployment of information and communication technology in addressing information failures relating to job searching, skills matching or productivity.
The former Deputy Governor of CBN explained further that the apex bank (CBN) continues to sustain its interventions in priority sectors and segments of the economy with the potential for delivering economic growth, jobs creation, food and industrial raw materials selfsufficiency, and economic diversification in various sectors such as agriculture, energy, healthcare, mining, and services. He agreed that there are enormous prospects for the growth and development of entrepreneurship as a vehicle for national development in Nigeria. On opportunities for partnership with universities, Lemo maintains that such partnerships had proven to be resourceful at pushing the frontiers of knowledge.
In the lecture, delivered at the 28th and 29th Combined Convocation Ceremonies of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State, Lemo, however, believes that the current climate for employment and entrepreneurship in Nigeria may not be ideal, but he is optimistic that the country would get over it, just like China did through an uncommon transformation. All that Nigeria needs to do is for all stakeholders to endeavour to rise to the challenge and make a difference.
In the final analysis, in addition to the nuggets given on how to youths can be gainfully employed, there is the imperative that factors inhibiting the development of Nigeria are addressed, the way it had been done in countries cited by Lemo such as the US and China, for the menace of corruption, nepotism, tribalism, god-fatherism, and religious bigotry not to continue to plague our dear country.