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OPINION

Harnessing The Potential Of The Nigerian Youths

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The Nigerian youths can be defined as talented, innovative, self reliant, hardworking, resilient, progressive and indomitable.
The youths constitute about 50% of our nation’s population. If you consider our estimated population to be close to 200 million then in actual numbers you are talking about 100 million individuals. In 2070, population is projected at 500 million. Going by this huge demography, the youths represent the enormous potential Nigeria has against the shrinking population of other countries.
If a country’s GDP is measured by its output divided by its population, we must continue to encourage our youths by engaging them productively to improve our GDP.
Nigeria is not one of the nations that practice social welfare which in itself has turned out advantageously to be our strength for survival. We appreciate the adage “ Teach a man to fish rather than give him handouts of fish” . Therefore we as a nation, that is, society in conjunction/ collaboration with the government must invest in our children’s education, healthcare, housing, security and other basic amenities to create an enabling environment that stimulates productivity in our youths. We need to take a closer look at the various economic sectors in our country to see the ingenuity of our Nigerian youth.

What can we say of a particular ethnic group in Nigeria that can excellently replicate anything given to them in form of machinery/ equipment? Or the fashion industry where our fashion designers are using our cultural fabrics to make exquisite signature outfits or our tailoring industry in a particular state in Nigeria which needs national patronage, but what do we get?
Some Nigerians discriminates against made in Nigeria western corporate wears, only for us to discover that indeed some of the suits we buy abroad were tailored in Nigeria. “What we went to purchase in the market was indeed in our own backyard”.
Nigerian youth entrepreneurs can compete effectively in terms of innovations, designs, ideas and ingenuity in any global market. It’s no wonder our Nigerians in diaspora are making waves. What we lack within Nigeria on a commercial scale, are skill refining institutions , machinery, and technical education in practice.
As a nation we must seriously rethink our future. A nation that constructively, deliberately, relentlessly and relevantly empowers the youths to champion innovation and take up leadership positions is a progressive nation. The world has moved beyond petroleum, so who will drive our diversified economy if not the youths? We must foster a generation of youths that are well equipped and prepared for GOOD SUCCESS. Our elders say you must have a well before you can think of fetching water within your compound. For us to be globally competitive in the next decade and beyond we must massively and urgently invest in the youths.

Education, healthcare, security, purchasing power and pension must be protected. Entrepreneurship, innovation and technology must increasingly be our focus as a nation. The success of any thriving nation is a massively educated, secured and nurtured population. Let us understand that our people are our wealth.
Nations prosper by growing output and managing population. In the UK, Healthcare NHS is funded from 10% of everyone’s salary. Education; students get low interest loans and scholarship. Whereas in Nigeria we need 10 trillion to educate our children so we need to take positive steps to empower our youths.
The government of Nigeria is set to broaden its earning from tax to prepare for a non oil future. A well educated working class of youths represent the highest potential of income earnings from tax. We need to make the linkage between higher tax earnings and higher earning power for the tax payers. While we may broaden the tax net and change the structure of taxation it is necessary to be proactive and not reactive or retroactive. Being proactive means cultivating a prosperous mass of youth workforce.
How do we achieve this?

Increased government revenue. versus equitable distribution of government spending, massive investment in infrastructure, increase in budgetary allocation for education and Healthcare, security, increase of minimum wage so that we curb the “Andrew checking out syndrome” of our youth relocating abroad to receive reasonably adequate reward for their labour.
The minimum wage in the USA is 7.5 dollars per hour , compare this to ours in conversion. Labour is the source of wealth. Great nations realise this, that is why you have countries like Canada, Australia etc all welcoming our people as immigrants. The USA did it for many years through the diversity lottery program.
Another area worthy of note is the availability of funds, and at reasonable lending rates.
Nigerian Banks should look more into how to empower vibrant entrepreneurs by accessible project funding.
When we have invested in our youth, the reward of economic boom within our nation will be a natural offshoot. Perhaps we may have been able to avoid the death of 26 Nigerian girls who drowned in the Mediterranean and were buried by Italians, the Chibok girls kidnapped and still missing, dangerous youth migration to Libya and unlawful killings in South Africa.

Most of the youths usually conscripted to carry out negative activities if gainfully preoccupied would hence not be available as a tool for the devils workshop.
The Voice of Women and Youths International Foundation salutes and celebrates our hardworking Nigerian youths, who are forging ahead to excel in their careers in-spite of the diverse challenges we are passing through as a nation. We further encourage all our youths to contribute in creating a peaceful prosperous and sustainable Nigeria. Let us not relent because good/ better are the enemies of “BEST” but continue to strive for mastery, shining brighter and brighter till the dawning of a perfect (day) society in Nigeria.

– David is the secretary, Voice of Women and Youths International Foundation.





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