In early August, with its release of its strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa, the Biden-Harris administration laid out a bold vision for a 21st-century ... US-Africa partnership. The strategy and the upcoming Africa Leaders Summit, which President Biden and his deputy Harris will host in December, comes at the right time.
As elections approach, The Africa Report canvassed Nigerians from across the country for their top priorities. We will be publishing them in installments ahead of the presidential poll, now scheduled for 16 April.
The government will stop its love affair with oil, and turn to labour-intensive sectors to generate employment for the masses
“Youth, not oil, will be the country’s most valuable resource,” according to ‘Next Generation Nigeria’, a report by an independent task force chaired by former finance minister and current managing director of the World Bank Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The politicians agree – President Goodluck Jonathan has promised a N50bn ($321m) fund to generate jobs for the 105 million Nigerians (out of some 150 million) reckoned to be under the age of 30.
Many think the politicians’ plans lack urgency and clarity. “Nigeria needs to create 25m jobs within the next 10 years if it wants to tackle poverty and unemployment,” says Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, a cousin of Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti and Lagos Central senatorial candidate for the Social Democratic Mega Party.
“To achieve this humongous number, effort should be focused on high labour-absorbing sectors that do not require advanced scientific or ICT skills. The agricultural and agro-processing sectors are perfect examples of where mass employment strategies should be deployed. Currently, only 33% of Nigeria’s cultivatable land is being cultivated.” ?
To get there, she says, Nigeria should look beyond the capital-intensive oil sector and promote new entrepreneurs – and, above all, provide a reliable power supply.
“Too many jobs are going overseas,” says Sani Dahiru, director of the Kaduna Business School. “We need the skills to compete with the Chinese, Indians and Brazilians. The whole global economy is being realigned, and we risk missing the boat.” ?
The dean of the Lagos Business School, Enase Okonedo, complains that Nigeria has created “unemployable graduates who find it difficult to communicate, find it difficult to approach problems, to lead companies and to contribute to national development, not out of a lack of desire but due to institutional failure.”?It is not just university graduates who need help, according to Ransome-Kuti: “Government should establish vocational-skills development programmes to train people in vocations like tailoring, wood work, tiling, welding and plumbing.”?
Martin Udogie, publisher of the BottomLINE newsletter, blames poor public administration. “We lack good road networks because the body charged with responsibility is failing or has failed. The same applies to schools, hospitals, security, power and so on. Therefore, there should be a programme to massively overhaul the civil service,” he says.
Read more from the people’s manifesto on Security, Power & water, Land, Health, Reform and Education
This article was first published in the April 2011 edition of The Africa Report
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