Promoting national development through youth entrepreneurship

Reports have emerged recently that public universities’ fees across Nigeria have increased by as much as 200 per cent. Nigerian youths, particularly those who are forced to pay fees themselves or rely on the goodwill of others outside of their nuclear family, should use this current predicament to double down on embracing entrepreneurship.

We all know the statistics and see the frustration of our university graduates with their A4 envelopes containing their CVs on our streets. Due to the high rate of unemployment among graduates and the precarious economic situation in the country, it has now become customary for unemployed graduates to request “urgent 2k” from their benefactors. Also, the rate of financial fraud, ritual killings, and illegal drug smuggling has increased.

I guarantee that if youths give themselves to entrepreneurship, practise it for seven to ten years, not only will they be self-reliant, they will also be hiring university graduates. Entrepreneurship is about identifying problems and solving them for a price.

There are PhD holders working for Nigerians who barely graduated or never went to university at all. This is a relic from the colonial times which we haven’t fully shaken off: when a Nigerian could comfortably work for a company for thirty years and retire from there, living off their pension or using their considerable gratuity to springboard the final stage of their lives. It’s also the result of a culture that traditionally looked down on service jobs; meanwhile service jobs play a huge part in keeping Nigeria moving.

You need your hairdresser and barber to fix your hair; you need cleaners to clean your offices; you need carpenters to make your furniture, and so on. Many Nigerian youths have created these service businesses and employed others to assist; hence my clarion call to double down.

There’s a lot of fear in looking entrepreneurship in the eye and telling it that you’re going to embrace it, particularly when a young person sees their peers earning livable salaries in air-conditioned offices and the young person in question has attended dozens of interviews with no callbacks or can’t get interviews. “Don’t they know I’m a graduate?” he or she soliloquises frequently.

In this day and age, getting an air-conditioned livable salaried job goes beyond having a university degree. Soft skills such as emotional intelligence, time management, public speaking, business writing, and business administration, just to name a few, should be taught in all Nigerian secondary schools, public and private. Teaching them at the university is too late because not everyone will go to university but everyone should go to secondary school.

In developed countries, many youths enter the workforce or become entrepreneurs at an age as young as 16 years old, either because they cannot afford to attend university, or they don’t want to be saddled with the debt of the fees after they graduate in their early 20s. This debt will take years to pay back and they’d rather not add it to their problems. Before anyone points out that those are developed countries I’m referencing while Nigeria is a lower middle-income economy, how do you think they became developed? Not all their office jobs require      a university degree. But in Nigeria, even micro enterprises are looking for graduates, thus depriving a large pool of Nigerians who can read and write from being employed.

Dear young Nigerian feeling down because of the status quo, do not let the fact that your country, parents, secondary school, and university have failed you make you remain in this position. Develop yourself. Look for problems around you, where you live, and go about solving them. Success is a result of many failures and years of hard work.

  • Obinna Inogbo is the Principal PR Executive, Worktainment Limited, Lagos

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