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Tackling unemployment through economic diversification


Dr. Olaopa is executive vice-chairman, Ibadan School of Government & Public Policy (ISGPP).<br />

The claim that Nigeria is endowed with huge human and material resources is at variance with the rising acute unemployment, and under-employment challenges that confront the country.  

While there are various factors that have been blamed for the intractable development, observers have continued to point at poor leadership, lack of vision, unbridled corruption, and mismanagement of resources as key factors. 

It is apt to note that the negative trajectory of the country has led to high level of unemployment especially among the youth, leading to excruciating poverty and deteriorating standard of living.

The end results of this ugly scenario are explosion in violent conflicts, militancy, insurgency, armed robbery and kidnapping, all of which have assumed varied dimensions in intensity and magnitude.

However, to address this worrying situation, economic diversification has been identified as key to the emergence of a robust economy.

This was part of the resolutions of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), at its just-concluded National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Abuja recently.

The National President of ASCSN, Bobboi Kaigama, in his welcome address, noted that economic diversification would lead to massive creation of job opportunities, expand the economic base and reduce poverty and social ills.

He advised government at all levels to articulate and implement an economic blueprint for the diversification of the economy by leveraging sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, hospitality, tourism and ICT to boost productive activities and revenue generation.

He argued that when these factors are effectively leveraged issues of insecurity, armed robbery among youths, insurgency and other negative vices would be reduced to the barest minimum and possible eradication.

Kaigama, who bemoaned corruption as one of the major challenges still facing Nigeria, said this has now assumed a very big proportion in spite of the initial steps taken by the present administration to address the menace.

He advised the Federal Government to strengthen and reposition the anti-graft agencies such that diligent prosecution of corrupt officials, total recovery of looted funds, and end to the pillaging of public treasury could be guaranteed.

Additionally, experts have warned that the growing unemployment in the country is a time bomb that could explode any time soon if urgent actions are not taken to curb the menace.

The experts called for an urgent and strategic re-assessment of Nigeria’s economic growth to ensure that such growth addressed the challenges of unemployment and job creation.

At a policy dialogue on job creation in Nigeria recently, experts had noted that the country’s positive economic strides have failed to translate to an increase in jobs, as the unemployment figures had continued to soar.

The Executive Vice Chairman of Ibadan School for Government and Public Policy (ISGPP), Prof. Tunji Olaopa, traced the perennial problem of youth unemployment in Nigeria to weak policy conceptualisation, management and evaluation.

He warned that unless there is an aggressive and proactive job creation and youth employment strategies, the country may experience an uncontrollable social tension and possibly lose a generation of young people.

Frontline statesman, Prof. Akin Mabogunje, at the policy dialogue called for a holistic economic diversification that will add value to every stakeholder. 

He advocated a rethink of the agricultural policy of the government, warning that unless there are land reforms to give titles of lands to farmers, the economic mileage expected from agriculture will remain a mirage.

He remarked that the standard policies that are directed at promoting economic growth would not effectively respond to the challenge of job creation.

He noted that the job creation challenge in the country could be effectively addressed through a comprehensive diversification of the nation’s economic structure, adding that youths must be made industry-ready and relevant by equipping them with skills that satisfy the specifications of employers.

He reiterated the importance of investing in a highly productive and skilled workforce as the basis for expanding growth potential and employment opportunities as well as strategic and meaningful contribution to overall national development.

He warned the Nigerian political class that they should know that there is no way Nigeria could be inspired to greatness if corruption is not decapitated and rooted out of the system before it leads to catastrophic consequences.

Speaking on the need to entrench democratic values and ideals, Kaigama expressed fears that after 58 years of political independence, Nigeria is still grappling with the challenges of democratic transformation and good governance.

According to him, the generality of Nigerians had expected that the return of democratic rule in 1999, will usher in a new dawn, but unfortunately, these hope and great expectation have been dashed.

“Nigerians demand good governance, justice, equity, fairness and real development and progress of the country in order to have confidence and trust in the polity. The political leadership in Nigeria must therefore imbibe the culture of leadership by example.

“This should be anchored on selfless service to the people with total commitment and sacrifice. Election, which is one of the core pillars of democracy, should be conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner such that votes would count in their choice of who emerges as their leader.

“As we approach the 2019 elections therefore, I wish to strongly advise that the political parties should focus on issue-based campaigns that will turn around the fortunes of the citizens in particular and the country in general.”

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