This year has been a good year for the Nigerian youth actively involved in politics. The much popularized Youth Affirmative Action agenda is demanding a 30% quota reservation for young people in all elective and appointed positions. This has not been made incorporated by the government yet but with 70% of the Nigerian population (105 million people) being under the age of 30 it is likely that the political elite cannot afford not to heed their calls. It is simply in their best interest and more importantly for the political, social and economic interests of the country.
The young population of Nigeria experienced another big win in terms of the re-basing of the country’s economy which made it the biggest economy in Africa. The young population for the reason that it gave light to the sectors that were neglected and thus ripe for investment. This is particularly relevant in the agriculture sector which is largely untappeddue to government policies that have traditionally focused on crude oil exploitation and exploration, leaving the agriculture largely neglected. In 1960 Nigeria provided 18% of the global production of cocoa and now that figure is down to 8%. Additionally in the same year the country produced 65% of tomatoes in West Africa but is now the largest importer of tomato paste. This is a clear demonstration that Nigeria has the capability to be an agriculture powerhouse and this should be a priority for the youth. At least two-thirds of unemployed youth are between 15 and 24 years of age in Nigeria and agribusiness from my viewpoint could help ease the unemployment rate while concurrently helping to develop a sector.
On the other hand, moving forward the youth also need to explore opportunities in the tourism sector which is huge in Africa but not so huge in Nigeria. This even though Tourism plays a significant role to the GDP, economic and development of a country and generates foreign exchange earnings. As it currently stands the tourism contributed 1.5% to the gross domestic product of the country, a figure that should be much higher considering it was at 2.6% only ten years ago. The youth can help evolve this sector by bringing innovation in terms of marketing, and service delivery.
Nigeria is one of the richest countries worldwide in terms of resources and that includes a young workforce. In the past, these resources were badly mismanaged. However we can no longer be held prisoners by the past, we must acknowledge that the time for action is now! As Nigeria marks 54 years of independence they should embrace the young workforce and make them the center of majority of policies.
Happy Independence Day Nigeria!