Executive Director of Policy Shapers, Ebenezar Wikina also advocated the investment of 15 to 20 per cent of both national and subnational governments’ budgets on education in line with the recommendation of the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for developing countries.
Federal and State governments across the country have been urged to provide an enabling environment for technologically inclined initiatives, skills acquisition, and support for the creative arts industry as the way to go in addressing the challenge of youth unemployment in Nigeria.
Ebenezar Wikina, Founder of Policy Shapers, advocated this recently at an Online Parliament Discourse themed: Youth, Jobs and Today’s Nigeria, put together by OrderPaper and Youth Alive Foundation (YAF) as part of this year’s International Youth Day Conversations.
Wikina, who was a panellist at the virtual discourse, expressed support for the establishment of the Federal Ministry of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy, explaining that Nigeria’s film industry, Nollywood, possesses a huge potential that is waiting to be explored while drawing experience from his trip to India where he discovered the existence of film villages which he said can be replicated in Nigeria.
Drumming up the necessity of human capital development, the Policy Expert advocated the investment of 15 to 20 per cent of both national and subnational governments’ budgets on education in line with the recommendation of the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for developing countries.
He described the current situation as a sad commentary that fuels the continuous production of unemployable graduates while emphasising that it is inexcusable for governments not to invest the country’s resources in human capital development, which he noted as a determinant for those who run various sectors of the economy.
In his reaction to the issue of the recent Nigeria Labour Force Survey (NLFS) released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which put unemployment at 5.3% in Quarter Four (Q4 2022) and 4.1% in Quarter One (Q1 2023), was also brought to the fore, Wikina noted that the conduct of a labour market assessment for the Niger Delta Region is one thing he looks forward to.
“One of the fundamental things we need to do that we haven’t done yet is that from a Policy standpoint, the National Youth Policy recommends that one of the ways to engage young Nigerians is by conducting the labour market assessment for the Niger Delta Region.
From 2017 to 2018, we did an assessment and carried out a project that was funded by the Ford Foundation, The assessment will help you to see the Google Maps search. It helps you to see all of the sectors and areas that have high absorption power.”
“The government can do many interventions like N-Power etc. but if you don’t understand where the problems are or where the gaps you won’t be able to fill in. So like the one we did in the Niger Delta region, we found out that skills like tiling, plumbing, and all of those things that we don’t see as big deals there are a lot of profits therein So like when people want to do tiling for example in Rivers State, they have to search for someone from another state or another geopolitical zone.
Some people even go as far as going to other countries like Benin Republic to come to do something like tiling and plumbing and so they bring their manpower from other countries,” he stressed.
The youth advocate also advocated the study of professional courses like medicine, considering the shortage of qualified medical personnel in Nigeria due to ‘Japa Syndrome,’ which has led to the migration of medical professionals to other countries in the search for greener pastures.