When government makes Job Creation in the country a priority, it will check the spate of human resources drain the country is currently experiencing.
A while back reports that Nigeria is the world’s fifth largest exporter of footballers. This is one uncomfortable ranking too many because it represents the skewed nature of things in the Nigerian system.
We export our human resources and then import goods and services. In the case of football, we force our best out to serve other nations while we keep sloping down in ranking from respectable heights attained many years ago.
Countries that have organised their reward systems to progressive, competitive levels come here to shop for talents that our warped environment has marginalised; and then turn them into second class stars abroad.
I have bewailed the state of the nation’s mines and steel industry in the midst of an abundance of world class mineral deposits and professionals that can turn the sector around and change the fortunes of the nation.
The most baffling aspect of it all is the near overwhelming unemployment crisis the nation faces in spite of so-much-work-to-be-done.
The Western nations passed through a phase when they had to contain the flatulence of the idle rich to create economies that respect and reward hard work, skills and talent. Perhaps Nigeria is getting close to that juncture.
If the current contempt for corruption is sustained to maturity, it will eventually yield a system that abhors a criminal rich; paving the way for a diligent, productive class to re-emerge.
I watched a woman who has been roasting corn for many years on a street I once lived in one morning as she unpacked her wares for the day. She had just come back from a very muddy market for which she had set out at the first crack of dawn.
She had bags of corn for boiling and roasting, fruits and coconut she would clean and display for sale. There were also groundnuts she would fry while roasting corn and plantains.
She also put some local pears, ube, on the hot rack to soften them. They would serve as an accompaniment to the roasted corn, a well-loved snack. She puts on her radio to keep her in the mood. She occasionally cackled at something she heard on the radio and danced to some tunes as they came.
This is the world of the crowd the nation describes as people-living-below the-poverty line. She would sit by that fire roasting, frying and selling things until 9pm in the evening.
Then, she would retire to her crowded face-me-I-face-you home where her idle husband, an accounts technician and three unemployed young adults will make further demands of her. The next day, the cycle of attrition continues.
Waved aside as ‘the informal sector, she and her ilk are hardly given consideration in any government welfare packages on health, housing, and so on.
She sweats for all she gets and belongs to a sector that is being considered for taxation in the next phase of things to shore up revenues with which to run an economy she hardly benefits from.
By the way, there are local taxes- both receipted and otherwise that she pays to the area feudal lords in her community, just to remain in business. Unfortunately, higher authorities are beginning to take an interest in people in her cadre, in their efforts to shore up government revenue. How fair is this?
In my opinion, she is part of a hardworking segment of the society that needs to be properly streamlined for the purposes of upgrade and inclusion in other beneficial packages before they are considered for taxation.
This is one way in which the Government can demonstrate to the youths that hard work does pay in Nigeria. If all that this set of hardworking people receive for all their effort is neglect and harassment, then why should anyone want to work hard?
I have consulted social scientists and psychologists on this issue who confirm that support for such small enterprises will help check the menace of unemployment and rising crime rate currently experienced in the country.
An elder statesman who spoke with me on the rising incidences of cattle rustling in the Northern parts of the country believes that such occurrences are not unrelated to the pervading perception that there are no rewards for hard work.
So, unemployed youths spend time devising ways of beating the system for quick profit. To reverse this trend, the Government must urgently work towards making the operating environment tolerable and rewarding for entrepreneurs, industrialists and other people who are willing to work.
A little investment to strengthen existing industries would go a long way in sending a message that the nation is genuinely interested in productivity.
It is time for government to focus on productivity. This can start with the revival of moribund industries across the country. This is a better way to increase revenue, rather than scheming to frustrate the struggling few through unreasonable taxes.
A lot more can be done to put more people to work and to provide incentives for industry. This is a more creative approach to wealth creation.
All moribund industries across the country, can be revived through private/public sector partnerships to create jobs.
The quest for increased agricultural output must be matched with the creation or revamp of existing value addition companies to ensure that excess production is not wasted as post-harvest losses.
Commodities like cassava, soybeans and other legumes including our once famous groundnuts, cereals are valuable raw materials for agricultural manufacturing concerns that can be established across the country with the technical assistance of our research institutes that have developed processing technologies for these indigenous crops.
This would make for food security, job creation and in the long term, provide foreign exchange through exports.
An inventory of these research outputs on processing technologies for local agricultural and mineral products, as well as marketing opportunities, should be published by research institutes across the country to fuel local enterprise.
These efforts would support existing industrial activities and support the emergence of new ones. Government must also device means to include the informal sector in its health, housing and health schemes to encourage petty enterprises and provoke interest in enterprise.