On the 28th of October 2015, the Federal House of Representatives in its collective wisdom requested that the Federal Government of Nigeria declares a “state-of emergency on unemployment”.
Whatever that means! I’m still not sure what that would achieve. It certainly identifies the problem and gives it priority. But still doesn’t set out to solving the problem, unless of course that would be contemplated at a different seating. Do you know the average House of Representatives member earns as much as N12million monthly asides from constituency allowances? Well that’s another story…
The truth is obvious no doubt, a lot of Nigerians are unemployed. Statistics put that number at about 26% of the populace, which is a pretty high number considering we’re a nation of nearly 160,000,000 people. In nearly every household, 1 out of ever 4 persons is unemployed. However worthy of note is that out of this gross number which puts the unemployed at 41.6million, we have a majority who are just plain jobless.
You might wonder, but what’s the difference between being jobless and being unemployed? The difference is in the attitude.
What Unemployed People Do
An unemployed person can decide to volunteer to work for free and gain valuable work experience. She never gives up on her quest for a real paying job but she’s not sitting around doing nothing. Instead she busies herself by attending free seminars organised by non-profit organisations, she will be at every empowerment program within 5km radius from her house, she works in her community or church as a volunteer, she helps her parents or friends in organising their events or pick up a trade to make ends meet. She has an attitude. A positive attitude!
An unemployed person can decide out of frustration to discover their innate talents and unique skill which has been somewhat overlooked by every potential employer of labour. Frustrated, he sets about developing it and starting a business from it. Many businesses started in such way- including mine back in 2008 after the company I was working for became insolvent. If you also remember reading, the founder of Whatsapp had been rejected for a job by tech giants like Google and Facebook. He went on to build an application which he later sold to same Facebook for a whooping $19billion. He had an attitude. A positive attitude.
What Jobless People Do
A jobless person on the other hand is both unemployed and hopeless. They have given up all hope on ever securing a job. But rather than learn new ways to improve their knowledge capital, up their game or learn a new skill; they sit around whining and complaining about just how broken the system is. You’ll find them at beer parlours (if they can still afford beer), trading war stories with other jobless friends and arguing about how unfair life is, asking disempowering questions like “When will things change?” or “When will the youths lead this nation?” or “When will our revolution start?”
Sometimes you’ll find them praying and fasting at churches with questionable prophets making broad declarations and decrees on a Monday morning, when they would be better off submitting their resumes at offices. They have an attitude. A negative attitude.
So recognizing this challenge, I have made it a lifetime project to educate and enlighten Nigerians through radio programs, writing articles and carrying out empowerment programs in order to remind Nigerians that a nation so blessed cannot afford to be so poor. If Nigerians can even understand how difficult it is to secure a Nigerian visa or passport, yet so many foreigners are struggling, bribing and lobbying for what we take for granted, perhaps they would seat down and make a better plan of how to utilize the acres of diamonds that lie waste under our feet.
Just the other day, I was with a friend, Kenneth, at the Nigerian Immigration Service headquarters in Abuja, we were shocked to witness a cell filled with over 80 inmates from various nations like India, Libya, Liberia, China, Indonesia etc waiting to be deported for lacking a valid visa or work permit. I was shocked that these people of various ages and economic circumstances took the long journey to get here to look for work- yet we say we have no jobs.
I just think that we need to develop a new outlook to discover how to see opportunity in the midst of chaos and difficulty.
I’ve discovered people will “call on the Federal Government” for almost everything conceivable. From potholes that can be fixed with concrete, to waste management in our neighbourhood, to blocked gutters and overgrown bushes. Then when this help isn’t forthcoming, rather than get positively angry and do something about it. Most will sit on their hands and curse the situation. But cursing a flat tyre doesn’t fix it!
So rather than “call on government” to be the answer to every social ill afflicting our community, we can rise up to the challenge and be the “Change” we desire. Start the waste management company and charge the neighbors a fee for disposal of their waste. Begin a security company and charge them a monthly fee for the vigilante service. Start a facility management company and charge the estate dwellers a monthly fee. Start a website on whistle-blowing and report cases of corruption in both the public and private sector. Start a small industry that processes farm products that sometimes go to waste during peak periods when there is an overabundance and become expensive when their season is out and supply is low. When others are complaining and cursing, choose to be creative and connect the dots. Choose to be or fill the missing link. Get an attitude for hard-work, problem-solving and entrepreneurship and you could be the answer we’re looking for.
Source of Finance
Oh! Before you ask me about means of finance for your social enterprise ideas, the following are details for the Bank of Industry loan available for Cottage Agro Processing (CAP).
1. Single digit interest rate at 9%
2. 5 year loan tenor
3. 6-month moratorium
4. Guaranteed working capital
5. Speedy processing.
Visit www.boinigeria.com/capfund for more information or call 0700 CALL BOI. Also Aliko Dangote (my favourite uncle) has recently given N10billion to help finance SME’s through the same Bank of Industry. Try and access that too.
Thank me later!