W HEN the Federal Government announced that it would be employing 500,000 teachers to reduce the unemployment rate in the country, the website through which the applications were to be made crashed under 24 hours. This was as a result of the huge traffic to the site. The meaning of this is that millions of people visited the site, trying to apply for the teaching jobs.
We should also not forget the over one million youths who applied to join the police when the organisation only wanted to recruit 10,000 people.
The death of innocent Nigerian youths during the recruitment by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) two years ago is still fresh in our minds. All this tells us that youth unemployment is a big problem in the country, and I want to partly lay the blame at the feet of the youths.
It is unfortunate that the majority of Nigerian youths are not creative. Everybody knows the situation of the country as regards unemployment, and I feel some youths could have started something even while still in tertiary institutions.
Most enterpreneurial ventures need time to stabilise, and when someone starts a project when he is in 200 level in the university, for instance, by the time he graduates, he should have something to fall back on if he can’t secure paid employment after his service year.
Nobody should say this is impossible because I personally know a friend who passed through university rearing pigs. In fact, this friend admits that he would not have been a graduate without his pig farm, and today, despite the fact that he works with a state government, he is still operating his pig farm. He believes with time, he can turn the farm into a big business.
One thing our youths need to know is that agriculture is the easiest sector to start something; the fact that people must eat makes the sector vibrant.
However, the federal and state governments should also share in this unemployment blame. Everyday, we hear that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has earmarked billions of naira to support farmers in the country, but at the end of the day, the farmers will not see the money.
This is also being used by some corrupt people to defraud poor farmers, as they make them pay some money in order to be able to access the released funds, but nothing will be given at the end of the day.
The rates and conditions banks give to small-scale farmers are also not fair enough; how can a struggling farmer be asked to pay double digit interest rates for loans?
If we truly want to boost agriculture in the country, then banks will need to reduce the rates to single digits.
The Nigerian government should know that agriculture is big business all over the world, and it can use it to reduce unemployment drastically.
While believing that Nigerian youths will now start to look inward instead of searching for paid jobs, the government should also play its role by supporting agricultural start-ups.
- Dr Taju Alalade,