A PAPER PRESENTED TO NATIONAL YOUTH SERVICE CORPS, BENIN CITY, EDO STATE BY ENGR. DR. (PRINCE) VICTOR OBANOR, PGD, B. Eng, M. Eng, M. A. Ph. D, DD, MNSE, FCAI, FIMC, CMC, MNIMN, MPMI, AFP, CHIEF INSPECTOR, COREN-ERM, BENIN ZONAL INSPECTORATE
We live in the era of globalization and this comes with enormous opportunities as well as challenges. Globalization – which results in a borderless movement of goods and services has significant impact on employment in developing countries; For example, goods which could have been made in this country could be made at a lesser cost abroad and shipped to Nigeria. This does not only kill local industries as we have seen in our textile industries, it impacts negatively on the country’s ability to create jobs for its teeming population? With a population of over 195 million, more than half of this number are below 30 years, and with over 500,000 graduates produced annually, there is no doubt that young graduates like you have cause to worry about the future.
Many vices and crimes in Nigeria have been attributed to the increasing rate of unemployment and underemployment. In fact, a recent study published in the American Journal of Social Issues and Humanities concluded that if factors that create the feeling of deprivation and frustration created by unemployment are addressed, Nigeria’s youths will not engage in violent crimes
But it’s not all bad news! The world has grown tremendously and areas people never thought would create jobs are now creating millions of jobs. Solutions to problems are also coming from very unexpected sources. The new crop of global leaders, business moguls and influential academics have become very successful as a result of solutions they have been able to provide in this age.
However, this tremendous growth experience in the last few decades has resulted in political, social and economic problems. For instance, the gap between the rich and poor has widened tremendously and this has resulted in significant social unrest. Oxfam, the UK-based international charity, estimates that the combined wealth of Nigeria’s five richest men – valued at $29.9 billion – could end extreme poverty in Nigeria.
Just as these rich Nigerians distinguished themselves, each and everyone of you here have the capacity to distinguish him or herself and become a leader. All you need to do is to look around your environment and proffer solutions to issues affecting your communities honestly.
Many of you might have heard of Mark Zuckerberg, Ali Baba and Jeff Bezos. But you might not have heard of Brian Acton, a co-founder of WhatsApp. Just like Alibaba – Asia’s current richest man who was rejected in over 20 companies he applied for work, Brian Acton was rejected by Facebook when he initially sought for a job in the company. But they looked inward, developed a skill and presented applications that people loved. Today, all the companies who rejected these folks would be very glad to have them in their boards. When you solve a problem and provide value, success comes naturally.
There are many problems yet to be solved. And those of you who can provide these problems with solutions will be the business and political leaders of the future.
The folks who own Jumia, Wakanow, IrokoTV, Konga and even Jobberman are very young people. Their companies worth millions of dollars today. They are in business because they solved a problem and used IT to create value.
Today opportunities in the IT space are enormous. The proliferation of mobile phones creates tremendous opportunity for young people. Mobile phones and the internet are not only for Instagram and Facebook!!! Today, in Africa, mobile phones have helped farmers living in rural areas to get information about new agricultural practices, prices of produce. For example, an app called iCow from M-Farm helps farmers track a cow’s individual gestation so they don’t miss the opportunity to expand their heard. The application also helps keep track of feed types, schedules, local veterinary contact information and precise market prices of cattle. Imagine how much the owners of these apps would be making today? Or, how these apps could increase agricultural productivity.
The misconception that agriculture is a back-breaking labour without significant economic benefit has made some youth miss the future gold mine in Nigeria. Agriculture in the 21st century means young people can explore their options in maculture design, biodynamic farming, communication technologies, forecasting, marketing, logistics, quality assurance, urban agriculture projects, food preparation, environmental sciences, and much more.
Modern technologies have changed the face of farming and has made it very lucrative. Farmers now earn dollars in Nigeria!!!! Cassava, yam, cocoa, palm oil and cashew are export crops and are demanded abroad because they could be used in making a variety of products.
Though Nigerian farmers face quality issues when trying to export their produces, all you need, as graduates, is to bring your education, new ways of thinking and energy into farming. You would be amazed at how much success you would achieve. You can never go hungry trying to produce what people will eat!!!
The Finance Space
The leaders of tomorrow are those who can solve the massive economic problems of today. According to a 2012 report by the World Bank, more than 2.5 billion people (half of all adults in the world) are unbanked, without access to a bank account. This figure is also high in Nigeria. Interestingly, more and more people are getting access to mobile phones. Today, in some African countries, there are applications that – such as M-Pesa—that allows people to use credits in their mobile phones to pay for services and buy goods. The folks who developed M-Pesa did not only change their own future they improved the lives of rural dwellers who used the app. These rural dwellers have no need to carry cash around – which could expose them to thieves.
The leaders of tomorrow are citizens and youths who are apple to solve major problems such as this.
You Must be A Citizen
It is important to note that for most of us our success depends on the success of Nigeria. So, you must be citizens. And by being citizens you must actively participate in the political dialogues in the country. This does not mean that you all must join political parties. Far from it.
As citizen you must develop yourself, acquire knowledge and be ready to share it in order to inform national debates and conversations. National debates influence policies and polices affect all of us. Little wonder that there is always a public hearing before bills are passed into laws.
I am sure the question on your mind is this: I have an idea, but I don’t have the capital. Yes, capital is important but a well-informed youth with a well-grounded understanding of the area he or she is going into would surely run into capital. Besides, there are many funds and investors ready to support promising youths. All they want to see is a thorough understanding of the area you might be interested in venturing into.
I have mentioned some areas in this speech, but the key thing is for you to follow passion. Leaders of tomorrow are those who love what they are doing today!
Finally, to succeed in business, academics and politics you need to be a voracious reader. Read as much as you can in the field you decide to pursue. You get a lot of information reading. So, never stop reading. There is room for Many Emmanuel Macrons in Nigeria, the sky is wide and high enough for every bird to soar.