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Seeking Solution to the Rising Unemployment Rate in Nigeria

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Unemployment Rate Nigeria

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

The latest report published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on its website which among other things noted that the unemployment rate in Nigeria rose from 27.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 to 33 per cent has helped Nigerians see clearly how the deck is stacked against the poor and the disadvantaged.

Aside from making it the second-highest on the global list, the NBS report, going by analysis, shows that ‘more than 60 per cent of Nigeria’s working-age population is younger than 34.

Unemployment for people aged 15 to 24 stood at 53.4 per cent in the fourth quarter and at 37.2 per cent for people aged 25 to 34.

The jobless rate for women was 35.2 per cent compared with 31.8 per cent for men. The recovery of the economy with 200 million people will be slow, with growth seen at 1.5 per cent this year, after last year’s 1.9 per cent contraction, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The output will only recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, the lender said.

The number of people looking for jobs will keep rising as population growth continues to outpace output expansion. Nigeria is expected to be the world’s third-most-populous country by 2050, with over 300 million people, according to the United Nations.

Unquestionably, while this quadrupling over the last five years which have attracted varying reactions from well-meaning Nigerians, remains a sad commentary by all ramifications as it is both worrying and scary, the present development demands two separate but similar actions.

First is the urgent shift from lamentation and rhetoric to finding solutions by asking solution-oriented questions.

The second has to do with the implementation of experts’ advice/solutions to unemployment in Nigeria.

This is indeed time to commit to mind the words of Franklin D Roosevelt, former President of the United States of America (USA), that extraordinary conditions call for extraordinary remedies.

Beginning with questions, it has become important to ask what could be responsible for the ever-increasing unemployment rate in Nigeria. Is it leadership or the nation’s educational system? If it is faulty education sector-driven, what is the government (both state and federal) doing to rework the policies since education is in the concurrent list of the nation’s 1999 constitution (as amended)? Are the leaders embodied with leadership virtues that the global community can respect? Or moral and ethical principles the people can applaud with enthusiasm?

While answers are being awaited, let’s take a look at what the experts are saying. As many have at different times and places argued that the rule for solving unemployment challenges has not changed all over the world. To arrest the drifting unemployment situation in the country, they pointed out that four sectors of ‘interest’ to watch are; education, science and technology, agriculture and infrastructures.

Talking about the educational system in the country, analysts are of the view that the education policies of the 6-3-3-4 system are excellent in the policy statement, but the inability of the financiers to provide the teaching tools for its success has truncated its intended goal and objectives.

However, to arrest the unemployment challenge, they added, entrepreneurial programmes should be integrated into the educational system from the primary schools to the university. Creativity, courage and endurance are skills that should be taught by psychologists to students at all classes of our educational system.

The situation says something more.

Nigeria, they explained, has to increase drastically the number of her current Polytechnics, Colleges of Technology and Technical Colleges in relation to the in-explicable very large number of universities and related academies in Nigeria’s economy in order to clearly address the training and development of professional and technical skills for technologies and industrial goods production in Nigeria’s economy.

The government science and technology development policy (with emphasis on no technology no economic progress) should be in place for promoting Nigeria’s industrial and economic development and should be focused on sustainable, well-funded and well-equipped science and engineering infrastructure complexes in all aspects of technologies and industrial goods production and manufacture and the creation of professional and technical human capital for economic development.

With the above highlight, it is important, in my views, that any country like Nigeria desirous of achieving sustainable development, must throw its weight behind agriculture by creating an enabling environment that will encourage youths to take to farming.

First, aside from the worrying awareness that by 2050, global consumption of food and energy is expected to double as the world’s population and incomes grow, while climate change is expected to have an adverse effect on both crop yields and the number of arable acres, we are in dire need of solution to this problem because unemployment has diverse implications.

Security-wise, a large unemployed youth population is a threat to the security of the few that are employed. Any transformation that does not have job creation at its main objective will not take us anywhere and the agricultural sector has that capacity to absorb the teeming unemployed youth in the country.

The second reason as noted in my recent piece on a similar topic is that globally, there are dramatic shifts from agriculture in preference for white-collar jobs, a trend that urgently needs to be reversed. Take as an illustration; over the past century in the United States of America (USA), the study has shown that there exists a shift in the locations and occupations of urban consumers.

In 1900, about 40 per cent of the total population was employed on the farm, and 60 per cent lived in rural areas. Today, the respective figures are only about one per cent and 20 per cent.

Over the past half-century, the number of farms has fallen by a factor of three. As a result, the ratio of urban eaters to rural farmers has markedly risen, giving the food consumer a more prominent role in shaping the food and farming system. The changing dynamic has also played a role in public calls to reform federal policy to focus more on the consumer implications of the food supply chain.

Separate from job creation, averting malnutrition which constitutes a serious setback to the socio-economic development of any nation is another reason why Nigeria must embrace agriculture-a vehicle for food security and sustainable socio-economic sector.

In fact, it was noted recently that in Nigeria, governments over the year have come to realize that sustainable growth is achievable only under an environment in which the generality of the people is exposed to a balanced diet, not just-food.

This explains why agriculture production should receive heightened attention. In Nigeria, an estimated 2.5 million children under-five suffer from severe acute malnutrition (sam) annually, exposing nearly 420,000 children within that age bracket to early death from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria.

For us to, therefore, achieve this objective in agriculture in ways that will guarantee food security, create employment as well as bring about development that is sustainable, the government must provide the needed support by funding, technical know-how and other specialised training.

The FG must contemplate developing a rail system that offers low fares and connection of major economic towns and landlocked cities to aid the distribution of food products and other economic products from advantaged to less advantaged areas.

Evidence abounds that such towns/cities referred to as disadvantaged often always hold the domestic trade and market prices of such commodities.

If implemented, such will assist the poor village farmers in Benue/Kano and other remote areas earn more money, contribute to lower food prices in Lagos and other cities through the impact on the operation of the market, increase the welfare of household both in Kano, Benue, Lagos and others while improving food security in the country, reduce stress/pressure daily mounted on Nigerian roads by articulated/haulage vehicles and drastically reduce road accidents on our major highways.

Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374.

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Money, Society, Development and Economics

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By Nneka Okumazie

For some people, all they will ever become is what money can make them.

For them, the power of everything money can do makes everything about money.

They often measure to money and measure for money. They talk for it and ensure it is what is seen about them.

Many of these people have money above all culture in some of the countries the people there have described as unbearable.

In most of these countries, the same reason government does not work is the same thing outsiders are about, bringing the country to a contiguous halt.

Government is all about who can grab for self and interests, around power, resources and money.

This same reason is why many organized crimes exist and several kinds of harmful practices across the private sector.

Money will never develop any country. Though some continue to say money is what is lacking.

Money will never change anything about anyone because if there are real changes at any point, money may have enhanced it but was never cause.

Things that look like changes that money made does not change; they are just more of how money keeps itself important.

For many things done because there was money to do it, they are many times purposeless. There are also others that should be been important, but because money was more important in that project, it also became purposeless.

If in some developing country, someone lives in a nice apartment or drives a cool vehicle, making that individual seem important, the importance of the individual is to whom, and what purpose does it serve, and for what it serves, what does it change, affect or improve?

The comfort that is lived in many of these places is a false peak.

It keeps them there and there is rarely much else to find meaning for.

Money continues to dictate how to be seen to have it, going around in circles, absent of progress, but ensuring participants are unaware.

Money, for what it can, makes people become a sunset. Money stays important using people as tools to itself.

[Ecclesiastes 6:7, All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.]

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5 Tips for Tackling Imposter Syndrome

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Aisha Pandor CEO SweepSouth Imposter Syndrome

By Aisha Pandor

Imposter syndrome is something that most of us have felt at one time or another. Even if you know you have all the right qualifications and experience to be in a position, it can be all too easy to feel like you don’t belong.

Whether it’s someone dismissing your work or even just casually telling you about something you’ve never heard of as if it’s common knowledge, it can be an incredibly difficult space to climb out of.

Imposter syndrome can be especially insidious among entrepreneurs, who already have to deal with ecstatic highs and crippling lows. In fact, a 2020 study found that 84% of entrepreneurs and small business owners experience imposter syndrome. Many also worry that they’ll be “found out” for their lack of knowledge and ability.

That chimes with my own experiences as an entrepreneur and investor. When Alen (my husband) and I first started SweepSouth back in 2013, I had no experience as an entrepreneur. I’d come from an academic background and everyone at the various startup events and pitching competitions we attended seemed so much calmer and more confident. I couldn’t help wondering what I was doing there and why I’d sacrificed a potentially comfortable life for something I was certain everyone else was doing better at.

While that feeling occasionally rears its head again, I’ve learned a number of strategies over the years to effectively tackle it. Here are five of them.

Remember that your journey is your own

For entrepreneurs especially, imposter syndrome can be fuelled by comparing yourself to others. It can strike when a business that started at the same time as you gets a batch of great write-ups in the press or when they raise a massive funding round. At times like that, it’s important to remember that you’re on your own business journey, no one else’s. By trying to match someone else’s success because it makes you feel inadequate, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Remember, if you’re making progress, you’re doing the right thing. Many of the entrepreneurs who seemed so confident at the early events I went to have seen their businesses not perform as well as they’d hoped. The same is true of those who raised headline-grabbing early funding rounds. If I’d let comparisons to them cause me to waiver from my focus, SweepSouth would be in a very different place today.

Address your weaknesses

Sometimes the feelings associated with imposter syndrome come about because someone brings up a legitimate issue that your business needs to address. It might, for instance, be something that a potential investor brings up. The trick is not to take it as a sign that you don’t belong, but as something fixable that you can address. Every person and every business has weaknesses. That doesn’t mean they don’t belong or shouldn’t exist.

Remember your accomplishments

Write them down if you have to. Chances are you’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles to get where you are. This is especially important if you don’t look like everyone else in the room. If you’re a woman, for instance, nothing about your male peers’ maleness makes them any more suited to their jobs or running a business.

Have a support network

Remember that stat from the beginning of the article about 84% of entrepreneurs suffering from imposter syndrome? That’s not an indictment on entrepreneurs but an opportunity. By joining a local, regional, or even international entrepreneurs’ organisation, you expose yourself to people who’ve been through the same things as you (including imposter syndrome) and who can guide you through any issues you might face.

Turn it on its head

Finally, remember that real imposters are unlikely to feel imposter syndrome. Being a successful imposter depends on outsized levels of confidence. So, if you’re feeling like an imposter, you can take it as a sign that you’re probably on the right track.

Aisha Pandor is the CEO of SweepSouth

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Reminiscing on the Loss of a Friend, Dreams Deferred, and Bold New Beginnings

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Chris Ihidero loss of a friend

By Chris Ihidero

One evening some eight years ago, my good friend Steve Babaeko walked into a mutual friend’s office looking a little less than his usual uber-confident self.

You won’t find many people who can claim to have seen Steve looking any less than assured: He consistently cuts the picture of a supremely confident man and his achievements are a testament to how that confidence has been well earned. But that evening in 2012, Steve had just put in his resignation as Creative Director of 141 Worldwide, the advertising agency he helped build from scratch and made a market leader. He would have to start all over again and the future held no guarantees. We broke out a bottle of cognac and toasted to new possibilities. As our mutual friend said that evening, “What’s the worst that can happen? You may fail, but at least you would have tried.”

When Amaka Igwe passed on in 2014 just as we were about to launch the TV channel we had been working on for about four years, it soon became clear to me that if I was going to have any shot at realizing the dream we shared, I would have to say goodbye to Amaka Igwe Studios. AIS was my home for eight years. I started out as an apprentice TV director and rose to become Chief Operating Officer. It was the place that built me. On the day I made the decision to leave, I stood in the building we had just furnished for the TV station, gazed at the transmission equipment we had installed and knew I was walking away to start all over again. Walking into a future with no guarantees.

Like Steve that evening, I was a lot less assured.

It’s been seven years since that decision and I have had an incredible run. It hasn’t been a sunset stroll in the park but I’m grateful for my contributions to the TV and film industry in Africa so far. While I worked for different TV networks, wrote, produced, directed and consulted on many film projects (and continue to do so), I started quietly building PinPoint Media. I knew what had to come next. I knew what I wanted to do with my life was to build a content delivery machinery that delivered excellence repeatedly.

In September 2019 we cranked on the content machinery we had been working on for a year and hit the set to deliver the first product off our production line, season one of Man Pikin, a family comedy series. Man Pikin is my nod to Fuji House of Commotion, Nigeria’s longest running and highly popular family comedy series I was privileged to direct for five years.

Man Pikin is the story of a man’s daily struggles with raising his kids after his wife’s passing. We shot 26 episodes for a first season and recently, IROKO TV acquired the rights for broadcast on their ROK Channels, as well as a french version for francophone Africa on NollywoodTV. It premieres on the 12th and 20th of December respectively.

In Q3 2021, we shot season two, another 26 episodes, and that’s not all we’re working on. But for COVID-19 actually, we would have rounded off the first year of our PinPoint Content Fund execution with 104 episodes of TV series in the bag. That target will now be met in 2022, starting with season three of Man Pikin and season one of a new series. Three feature films will also be shot in 2022, and we will also deliver a digital TV channel. Yeah, we have been very busy!

As I watched final edits of the episodes of Man Pikin before shipping off to our distributors in France recently, I reminisced on the loss of a friend and dreams deferred. This propels me forward as I focus on polishing and further knocking our content machinery into shape in order to deliver a five-year plan that culminates in the production of five thousand hours of content yearly from five production centres across Nigeria and Africa.

Scary, right? Well, that was the dream I once shared with an amazing woman and now I must trudge on scared, but confident that we will deliver the reference point for TV/film content excellence, whatever the challenges we will face, because, like the original soundtrack for Man Pikin says “Every day we keep moving forward ooh ooh ooh, ‘cos someday our dreams will come true ooh ohh ooh, man pikin go fall but will stand up ooh oooh ohhhh, for together we are strong and we’ll always have each other, ah ah.”

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