Emmanuel Onwubiko: The Chris Ngige’s fallacy on youths


 

The current administration is often known for talking down on the youths. It got so bad that the head of the administration President Muhammadu Buhari made a statement to the effect that a lot of Nigerian youths are lazy.

Then at another time, the same person who castigated the Nigerian youths as being lazy made a global appeal urging the Nation’s young persons to stop emigrating to foreign jurisdictions in search of better opportunities. He hinged his appeal on what he said was the unprecedented rates of migration out of Nigeria by the youths. I will come to address briefly how this same government that has nothing but abuses for youths have spent over seven years without radically improving the public university system so the youths would be in very comfortable learning atmosphere to be academically sound and to acquire information technological skills for national development.

But the cabinet member who holds the office of minister of Labour and Employment who claims to be a medical doctor by training known as Chris Nwabueze Ngige has carved a dangerous niche for himself as one public office holder with the least respect for the Nigerian youths and at every public speaking opportunities, he ensures that these were periods of raining abuses on youths. He just did that not long ago.

This Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said that most youths in Nigeria were unemployed because they lacked functional skills.

Ngige said this while declaring open a one-day Trade, Job, Career, and Employability Fair, on Thursday in Abuja.
The fair was organised by the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation with the theme “Promoting Employability, Skills Development, and Decent Work”.

Ngige, represented by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation, Mrs. Tilda Mmegwa, said that all stakeholders must be actively involved in preparing the African workforce for the ‘future of work’.
According to him, the Nigerian government is conscious of the fact that most of the unemployed are those without functional skills.

“Our strategy, therefore, is to equip the unemployed youths with market-driven skills, which will facilitate their access to self or paid employment.

“In recognition of this reality, my ministry is keenly committed to equipping unemployed graduates with entry point competencies to make them employable.

“I am, therefore, happy to inform you that my ministry is scheduled to train 37,000 unemployed graduates, 1,000 in each of the states of the federation and the FCT, on soft skills and marketable resumes.

“In the coming months, we will also train 3,500 unemployed youth in various vocations including fashion design, catering and event management, solar panel and CCTV installation, among others,’’ he said.

The minister said that each of the trainees would be empowered with starter packs to immediately venture into business.

He said that the initiatives showcased the commitment of the present administration to provide the young unemployed jobs seekers with the cutting-edge skills to start a self or paid employment.

This same Labour and Employment minister failed to publicly admit that the government in which he serves has failed to improve the learning environment in the public University system which is the reason for the frequent strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities. This Minister does not seem to know that the greatest disservice any government will do to the youths is to perpetually make it impracticable for public schools to remain open and well equipped with the state of the art facilities to train and improve the skills of these youths. In this public statement, the minister of Labour and Employment celebrated his remarkable ignorance about the Nigerian youths. It is gratifying however that the International Labour Organisation seems to have corrected these errors of blaming youth unemployment on lack of skills by the youths.

The ILO Country Director, Ms. Vanessa Phala, noted that many jobs had been lost due to COVID-19 and that the rate of unemployment had continued to increase.

Phala said that there was no social protection, and called on the youths to ensure that they adapted to new knowledge that would make them gain employment.

Also, the NECA President, Mr. Taiwo Adeniyi, said that the fair was organised to enhance employability and to improve the chances of youths and job seekers gett ing employed.

Adeniyi, who was represented by the Director-General, Federation of Construction Industry, Mrs. Olubunmi Adekoje, said that to ensure maximum impact and a widespread, the fair would also be held at Port-Harcourt and Enugu.
He, therefore, commended the Ministry of Labour and Employment, and the ILO for their readiness in addressing unemployment challenges in the country.
Newsmen spoke with some of the participants who commended the organisers of the fair.

Participants, Nden Bolcit and Aforlayan Gabriel, said that they were privileged to be part of those who attended the fair.
The participants said the fair had given them the opportunity of one-on-one career counseling, and also, knowledge of job interviews.

Has this Minister of Labour and Employment read about the young Mr. Tope Awotono who lost his father in the hands of armed robbers in the bustling city of Lagos when he was only 11 but has now been confirmed a billionaire by Forbes.

The young Awotona was said to have witnessed the killing of his father when the criminals wanted to hijack their car.
The 40-year-old Awotona is the founder and chief executive of $3 billion worth Calendly, a meeting scheduling platform.
According to the magazine, Awotona was born in Lagos, Nigeria, into a middle-class family. His father was a microbiologist and entrepreneur; his mother worked at the Central Bank in Lagos.

In 1996, when he was 15, he moved with his family to Atlanta. He studied computer science at the University of Georgia, then switched to business and management information. According to David Cummings, founder of Atlanta Ventures, which led a $550,000 seed investment in Calendly seven years ago, Tope could be the most successful African-American tech entrepreneur of his generation. Is this Minister of Labour and Employment not aware that 7 Nigerian start-ups in the tech space raised combined cash of over N142bn in the first 3 months of 2022?

Meanwhile, Nigerian startups started the year 2022 at the same pace, it ended in 2021, as more foreign investors back their ideas and dreams with billions of Naira. Seven Nigerian start-ups in the tech space raised combined cash of $343 million in the first three months of this year.

2021 was extraordinary as the startup raised about $5 billion, surpassing the record of $4.3 billion in 2020.
In late January, a Nigerian tech start-up with an investment platform that allows Nigerians to trade in United States (U.S.) stocks in real-time from their mobile phones or computers, Bamboo, raised $15 million in a Series A funding round led by American venture capital firms Greycroft and Tiger Global. Three Nigerians, Ikenna, Chidi, Oghenetega get N197.7m.

Meanwhile, three young Nigerians recently won nearly half a million dollars from Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma. Legit.ng reported that the funds were given to startups across Africa that set out to solve major problems within their countries.

Among the 10 finalists listed, Nigeria’s Ikenna Nzewi came 2nd as Jack Ma foundation disclosed over 12,000 applications were submitted.

Is this Minister aware that the General Medical Council which licenses and maintains the official register of medical practitioners in the United Kingdom licensed at least 200 Nigerian doctors in April and May alone?

This implies that at least three Nigerian doctors were licensed per day in April and May 2021 despite a new policy by the UK government in February to discourage the aggressive recruitment of doctors from 47 developing countries facing a shortage of doctors at home, including Nigeria.

A Nigerian journalist who has monitored the website of the GMC in the last 10 months, observed that the number of Nigerian trained doctors practising in the UK rose to 8,384 from 7,870, a difference of 514.

Checks by his newspaper showed that the average number of Nigerian trained doctors in the UK rose from an average of 1.3 per day in between July and December 2020 to 3.3 per day in April and May 2021.

Between June 7 and June 8, 2020 – a space of 24 hours – about seven Nigerian trained doctors were licensed by the UK.

Nigeria has the third highest number of foreign doctors working in the UK after India and Pakistan.

However, Nigeria suffers a shortage of doctors. This is so because the Country lacks the medical facilities for these talented youths to be gainfully employed. Those who run Nigeria today still go to the UK for medical tourism.

The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria puts the total number of registered doctors in Nigeria at 74,543 for the country’s population of about 200 million.

This puts the doctor-patient ratio in the country at 1:3,500.
This falls far below the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 1:600.

A poll by NOI in 2018 also showed that 88 per cent of Nigerian doctors are considering work opportunities abroad, but experts say the figure may be higher due to the rising insecurity and economic crunch.

Other popular destinations for Nigeria trained doctors include United States, Canada, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

The President of the Nigerian Doctors in the UK, Dr Seun Yusuf, said the number of Nigerian doctors migrating would continue to increase as long as doctors were not well paid and hospitals lacked equipment.

Yusuf said the number of Nigeria trained doctors that migrated from Nigeria to other countries in the last three years would be about 6,000, but some had yet to complete their exams and thus had not been licensed.

She added, “In the last three years, more than 6,000 doctors would have left Nigeria to different places but because the UK is the easiest place, the pathway becomes very easy so the UK gets a higher percentage of Nigerian doctors migrating. Some people are still in the UK writing their exams and they are not included in these statistics.”

When asked why doctors were leaving, Yusuf stated, “The doctors who finish school struggle to get house job placement and they don’t get paid. Imagine attending school for eight years and you don’t get a job on time and when you get it, they don’t pay you?

“You finish from school and go to NYSC and after eight years of medical school, one year of housemanship during NYSC, someone pays you N80,000 when you know you can earn better with that certificate in another country. If Nigeria had enough incentive, work/life balance, people would not leave.”

Also, the National Association of Resident Doctors which comprises 40 per cent of Nigeria’s doctors said the government was not serious about the welfare of doctors.

In a media chat recently, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, said lawmakers earn millions in allowances but doctors who save lives are given a pittance.
The NARD President stated, “Nigerian doctors are desperate to leave because we have not been paid for five months and we have bills to pay. We lost 19 doctors during COVID-19 and yet no insurance claims have been paid to the families.

“They pay N5,000 hazard allowance to doctors who get infected with COVID-19 or HIV in the course of their job. They pay lawmakers millions for allowances and pay doctors N170,000 per month.”

Let this ignorant minister of Labour and Employment read a post made on June 7, 2018 which rightly says: Because you don’t know what it means to hustle … until you meet a Nigerian-American. The article then proceeded to reel out the wonders that Nigerian youths are achieving with their skills in the United States of America.

It says thus: “At an Onyejekwe family get-together, you can’t throw a stone without hitting someone with a master’s degree. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, professors — every family member is highly educated and professionally successful, and many have a lucrative side gig to boot. Parents and grandparents share stories of whose kid just won an academic honor, achieved an athletic title or performed in the school play. Aunts, uncles and cousins celebrate one another’s job promotions or the new nonprofit one of them just started. To the Ohio-based Onyejekwes, this level of achievement is normal. They’re Nigerian-American — it’s just what they do.
Today, 29 percent of Nigerian-Americans over the age of 25 hold a graduate degree, compared to 11 percent of the overall U.S. population, according to the Migrations Policy Institute. Among Nigerian-American professionals, 45 percent work in education services, the 2016 American Community Survey found, and many are professors at top universities. Nigerians are entering the medical field in the U.S. at an increased rate, leaving their home country to work in American hospitals, where they can earn more and work in better facilities. A growing number of Nigerian-Americans are becoming entrepreneurs and CEOs, building tech companies in the U.S. to help people back home.

You don’t know what it means to hustle … until you meet a Nigerian-American.”
So why is Chris Nwabueze Ngige being allowed to spew out ignorant tales that Nigerian Youths have no skills?

EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO, a former National Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human rights commission is head of HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).

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