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Reviewing past plans and actions by the government from 2003-2015 to resolve the impending issue of unemployment by the youth was the main deliberation of the day. Richard Ough the DFID Representative explained how paying the hawkers on the street to pick litters of pure water bought from them in their area of trade helped to solve the problem of sanitation in that specific area and the “hawkers” were still able to make ends meet instead of chasing them of the road as most government bodies do.
As part of its contribution towards supporting the Nigerian Government in pursuing and implementing policies that lead to poverty reduction, DFID Nigeria, through PDF II in collaboration with FEPAR, Organised the Nigeria Youth Employment Summit on the 3rd of December 2015 at the Abuja Transcorp Hilton.
The summit seeked to provide a platform to learn lessons from past job creation schemes and explore new innovative ideas that will help generate employment and raise incomes.
The summit kicked-off with an ‘ideas market place’ where job creation initiatives were showcased by the private sector participants, and a mix of donor and government supported programmes. Participants were encouraged to visit the market place, shop around and potentially ‘buy’ some ideas and initiatives. Following this, was the more formal segment with panel discussions by representatives drawn from all stakeholders.
Participants of the Youth Empowerment Summit
advised the Government on steps to take in order to create jobs.
Using this story to inspire participants to speak and look for achievable solutions to solving the problems in Nigeria.The minister of state , labour and environment James Ocholi SAN commended the Policy Development Facility Phase II ( PDFII) on their persistence in keeping job creation and employment as an important goal. Stating that past strategies of the federal ministry of labour and employment didn’t
work as they were created in response to crisis and are not substantial enough to meet the problem of new employment. This cause pushed the sector to reform the policy on youth employment with the draft in creation and after the review process be released later in the month. James Ocholi mentioned that the President Muhammed Buhari is fighting to stop, insurgency, corruption and would be the happiest president if he can pull thousands of Nigerians out of poverty into gainful employment.
Ben Aripo of Fepar gave a review analysis on past initiatives by the government, providing what worked well and what did not. Programs like SURE-P , NAPEP were plagued with;
i. poorly created programs which were created just to subsidize reactions on fuel subsidy,
ii. Used to campaign for a politician and not merit based
iii. Ghost youths involved in the programs collecting benefits
iv. Private internship were not well engaged & were not qualified
v. Poor Monetary evaluation in the program.
vi. High level of corruption in its regulation
vii Good on paper and poor on performance
The above stated issues were just a few of the problems jointly faced by the programs above. Youth in Agriculture programs and all the downstream of agriculture also faced similar problem with the selection process manipulated by politicians, finding guarantors was a huge problem and the program could not reach target audience with most in the rural areas. The schemes were funded by politicians who used it for their own personal gains, Language barrier became an issue and the only youths that benefitted to this program were those who were used to the system.
Other programs like YouWin had a lot more positive outcome with a few problem like not engaging people at the grassroots and if you could not write a business plan you were rejected. Ben Aripo rounded up by stating that before any youth employment program is engaged it must be , Transparent, Merit-Based , Target Youth effectively in the rural areas and anti-corruption measures must be put in place.
David Mckenzie of the world bank drove home the point "jobs take time to create and the government need to be patient". A youth employment program cannot start and after a year of no immediate result be scrapped, it takes time to yield. He also stated that small grants of 100,00 USD- 200,00 USD do not transform firms enough to be able to employ large skilled labour, we need bigger grants to have larger scale effect. He also debunked the earlier statement made by Ben Aripo that the rural areas do not have the capacity to create jobs to employ people and effect change significantly. Using the YouWin as a reference point he stated that a lot of the finalists who did not win the YouWin grants were pushed to start their business with each person having at least 10 individual staff in their company. He however made it clear that whether the YouWin project existed or not this individual company. He however made it clear that whether the YouWin project existed or not this individual were going to get hired in a company anyway but what the platform provided is that they were able to create jobs for other people. He concluded by stating that in the United States it takes 100,00USD to create a job for one person which is expensive , however in Nigeria it takes 300,00USD to create jobs which is more expensive. He further emphasized that government should not bother creating jobs and
leave that to the private sector but work creating a suitable environment for private business to thrive by creating strong policies and basic amenities that business thrive on.
The founder of leap Africa Mrs Ndidi pointed out the different policies, schemes created by the NDGs' and employed the government to look into regulating and infusing the policies together. She also mentioned that we need to invest in catalyst African Businesses that in turn employ able hands to work. Adding that 60% of the Schools teach the science and not the act of business in regarding to subjects like agriculture.
Other participants like the Representative of the UCLA mentioned that we need to educate Nigerians to be able to speak the language of employers. Founder of the Pan-African University Mr Bankole talked about the Importance of Agriculture and transparency in government.
Revamping the minds of our youths to not find jobs but create one. Ogor Ifeoma from the Bank of industry shared her opinion that government should institute a fund to target researchers and scientist. explaining that these crop of individuals need grants not loans.
The Northern part of the country are facing more problems than the southwest, showing the list of the top ten illiterate states are from the Northern part of the country. This shows how much we still have to work in educating the youth properly. It was emphasized that what works in the South would not work in the North, and our education sector should be transformed from learning to pass exams to learning to know.
In summary Transparency at all levels of government and private sector would encourage the youth in participating in government initiatives. Creating and reforming the right institutions from the rule of law to dealing with corruption, providing basic education and amenities would help create jobs
In Conclusion Mr Akin Sawyer the moderator of the summit commented that 24,000 Nigerian cardiologist exist worldwide, 9000 in the united states alone and only one cardiologist in Nigeria. The cost of medical tourism in Nigeria is 1.5billion Naira annually, 40 % no of people that travel every year for medical aid die within two hours of flight . The indian embassy have over 3000 visa applicants per month because of medical treatment and yet we still do not invest in the sector. Food for thought