Creating 2m Jobs Every Year (1)
AT the Presidential campaign rally in Ibadan on January 12, President Goodluck Jonathan promised to create about two million jobs every year if re-elected. As expected, this has been generating much debate as to the possibility of the promise. While I appreciate the concerns of those who believe that it is just one of the promises of re-election that will be unfulfilled, I am optimistic that it can be achieved.
My optimism primarily derives from an objective assessment of the enormous job creating potentials of the Nigerian economy. All that is required to create two million jobs every year is a determined effort and commitment of the government (federal, state and local) to do two things.
First is a critical examination of all the government ministries and agencies to fully understand, review and expand their revenue generation and job creation capabilities and capacities. Second is through a robust engagement and collaboration with the private sector to support and work with them to exploit and create every available job that can be created. Third is through the innovation of effective monetary, fiscal and supply side policies that are pro-job creation and which should be robustly synergised to support job creation mechanisms. These approaches will help to identify jobs that can be created in the short, medium and long terms.
I will focus on jobs that can be created in the short term and with limited government expenditure and even with our present state of infrastructural development. Interestingly, some of the jobs like in the sports sector, as will be explained below, can be created by any tier of government, especially the state and local governments.
As stated in my previous article, Nigeria, as a developing economy with the right population, is littered with varied but untapped and easy opportunities that can create two million jobs within 12 months. Three sectors (Sports, Transport, Security) are used to show how about 500,000 jobs can be created within 12 months. While the Sports sector is analysed with good detail, only the abstracts are provided for the Transport and Security Sectors. Another 500,000 jobs can be created within two years from housing, transport, education and other service sectors.
The sports sector is analyzed in detail for two reasons. First is as a tribute to late Dimgba Igwe, an erudite journalist and good man whose most painful death would have been avoided if the needful, this job creation idea had been implemented. Second is the other benefits that can be derived from the sports sector in addition to the job creation opportunities.
In a most recent research by two academics in University of Edinburgh, UK, it was stated that one in every four Nigerians is likely to be suffering from high blood pressure and possibly hypertension.
As known, one of the ways to prevent, reduce or manage such ailment and other health challenges is through regular exercise.
With the launching of the Rhythm N’Play sports initiative by the President on the 6th of June, 2013, over 100,000 jobs with an average monthly salary of N50,000.00 per employee can be created from the Sports Sector through the expansion of the initiative. Exercising is obviously limitedly practiced by Nigerians. Jobs can, therefore, be created through the construction (either by government or Private-Public Partnerships) of mini sports centers that will be opened for about 16hours a day and celebrities (top government functionaries, Nollywood stars, musicians, acclaimed sports men and women) given stakes such as good membership discounts and used as promoters and active members.
With no need to explain the benefits of good exercise to our wellbeing, the plan should be to expand, market, convince and include majority of Nigerians to the initiative. It will require for a start, the setting up of about five mini sports centres in every state of the federation and the FCT. Each of sports centre will be built to have common sporting facilities like treadmills and rowing machines in addition to facilities for sports like lawn tennis, badminton, table tennis, swimming, dancing and mini football pitches that can accommodate between five and seven side games. With opening times from 8am to 10pm every day, the target will be to get a minimum of 5,000 members for each sports centre at a monthly fee of N5000.00 for each member.
I am sure that some people might argue that the fee is high but in comparison to the average amount of N15, 000 spent by a normal social drinker every month shows that the N5,000 monthly fee will be easily afforded. A friend mentioned to me that a privately built small football pitch in Lekki area of Lagos has been fully reserved and paid for by one of the oil companies for their staff recreational needs.
But the problem will be how to get the 5,000 members for each centre. This can be achieved through strategic location of the centres and then the involvement and encouragement of prominent Nigerians to use them. These will include Nollywoood actors/actresses, top government functionaries and politicians, footballers and other sports men and women, top private sector managers etc.
With regards to the location, it will be important for them to be located in areas close to the targeted population like in affluent areas. Preferably, they should be located very close or adjacent popular parks or drinking joints. Using FCT for a pilot case, good areas will be near City Park in Wuse 2, in Maitama, Asokoro and Gwarimpa.
With N5000 monthly fee for one person for about 5000 members will give a monthly revenue of about N25 million. If each centre employs about 250 people with an average monthly wage of about N50, 000 per person, the monthly wage bill will be about N12.5million. The balance of N12.5 million can be used for maintenance, savings and paying back the building and setting up costs. Given the size of FCT, it can take up 10 gyms resulting in about 2,500 jobs. Expanding this initiative to other states with a target for average of 10 sports centres per a state (even though states like Lagos and Rivers can take about 20 each) will result in over 100,000 new jobs. To ensure the effective management and sustainability of the Sports centres, an agreement can be reached for them to be managed by one of the banks like GTB, Fidelity, UBA, First Bank, Diamond and Zenith Banks. It will fit in well with their respective strategic corporate social responsibility targets and at the same time ensure job creation and healthier/ sports oriented Nigeria.
In the Transport Sector, over 150, 000 jobs can be created through the detailed examination and strategic management of the public knowledge which was further affirmed by Mr. President that majority of the accidents in Nigerian roads are caused by the carelessness of our drivers. Innovating ways through which this carelessness can be reduced or eliminated can interestingly help create over 150,000 jobs. It will require not only more effective traffic management by the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) but also the training and licensing of approved private driving instructors, and examiners and a better regulation of driving and road usage.
At the moment, insecurity remains a big challenge in Nigeria. But it also provides an opportunity through which about 100,000 jobs can be created. Appreciating that a major factor contributing to the insecurity problem is the lack of proper intelligence gathering and cooperation among security agencies, I sent a proposal to the then government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 2001 on the need to set up a Security University. I suggested that the University should be the central training institution for all potential employees into our security agencies and with a National Diploma and B.Sc in Security Studies offered by the University, the minimum entry qualification for employment into our security agencies. As all employees of our security agencies such as the Customs, Immigration, Police, State Security Service (SSS), NDLEA and others will pass through the University, effective esprit de-core will develop which will enhance intelligence gathering and sharing.
While I am aware that the Police Academy in Kano has been upgraded to a University, I am not sure to what extent it is managed to serve the above purpose and to be a leading Centre for Security Studies in Africa. Ensuring that it serves its purpose will not only reduce insecurity in Nigeria but will create many direct and indirect jobs. Another avenue through which jobs can be created in the security sector is through the legalisation and recruitment of Part-time Police officers. They will be paid on hourly basis and be maintained by the demands for security from the private sector and buoyant individuals. While I appreciate the possible controversy this might generate, I am convinced that it can be implemented in Nigeria as it is done in other countries due to other benefits that can be derived from the exercise. It can serve as Community Police enhancing the intelligence gathering capability of our security agencies.
With a housing deficit of about 17 million housing units, the housing sector can be properly aligned with other sectors like the transport, education and manufacturing in order to create about 500, 000 jobs in the medium term (about two years). However, this can only be achieved through a strategic planning and location of the housing units different from the present limited planning and building of estates. It will require the identification of strategic locations where what I can describe as ‘Regional Cities’ should be built. With most Nigerian cities and towns largely unplanned and chaotic, this idea of a well-planned and functional ‘Regional Cities’ will be very helpful in enhancing our economic development and growth due to the socio-economic benefits of well-planned and developed cities.
As Nigeria is presently divided into six regions, the aim would be to create and build 6 ‘Regional Cities.’
A suggestion will be that the location should be a virgin land that will at least connect two states in each of the region. For instance the Southwest Regional City should be located in an area that connects the boundaries of Lagos, Oyo and Ondo States with a target to build at least 1 million housing units in each of the 6 ‘Regional Cities’. In the South East, it can be in an area that connects Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia or Anambra, Enugu and Abia or Imo states. To make them functional and viable, key projects and institutions like Universities, Industrial Layout and Modern Markets will be cited in each. For instance, while over 1.2 million people write JAMB every year, the total admission capacity of all Nigerian universities every year is about 300,000. With such wide gap between demand and supply of University education, a good idea will be to establish one regional university in each of the regional cities.
As no Nigerian University is ranked among the top 25 Universities in Africa, an idea will be to create world-class universities through effective public-private partnerships especially with the banks as the private partner. To ensure, viability and sustainability, the tuition fees should be determined and based purely on the demand for the excellent standard and services to be provided. The effective implementation of the above short term job creation ideas will lead to other job creation opportunities in the medium and long term such as fast rail service that will make travel time from Lagos to Abuja to be three to four hours, Lagos to Enugu in two hours, Port-Harcourt to Kano in five hours.
*Dr. Ngwu lectures in a UK University