In a country like ours, from independence till date, we have been unable to resolve the issue of the wide and ever- expanding gap between the haves and haves-not in terms of not only wealth but also opportunities. The challenges of opportunity to climb the scale of economic and social ladders of the society, as well as opportunity to live long and be allowed to express your talent, that you were not taught what will be useful to you and your society or that you are not allowed access to opportunities owing to discrimination and you have no income because you are not employed and as such confronted with hunger, lack of access to basic health care and other good things of life. These are all forms of poverty.
For both countries and individuals, prosperity is the key element to quality of life and is also necessary for the nation to be competitive in the world economy. As economies move from production-based to ones based on creativity and innovation, they must grow in ways that strengthen industries, create good jobs and encourage economic investment. To increase wealth and living standards, the economy must promote and sustain diversity, innovation, competition and entrepreneurship.
Nigeria exemplifies the paradox of a rich nation populated by poor people. Through massive corruption, the nation’s wealth is daily cornered and siphoned out of the country, resulting in institutionalised poverty.
“In my opinion, it could not have been the intention of our founding fathers, who as youth fought for independence and demonstrated impeccable leadership qualities to have a Nigeria where the future they fought for – today’s youth - would be systematically subdued with unemployment-induced poverty by visionless leadership and be practically forced to take back seat in the leadership of their own generation”
Poverty is linked with unemployment, ignorance, poor governance, corruption, high inflation, environmental degradation, high population growth, among others. Other than the fact that the Nigerian economy is not creating new jobs, the few existing jobs are being lost by factory closures arising from high cost of production. Hence, there is an urgent need to re-invent and promote entrepreneurship and good leadership for economic prosperity.
It is all about deploying creativity to stay ahead of competition. In short, growth, which signifies productivity and can lead to profitability, can only be effectively achieved and driven through innovation. “Every organisation - not just business- need some core competence: innovation,” educates Peter Drucker, the business management expert. The entrepreneurship in reference is transformational entrepreneurship which borders on conversion of new knowledge into new products and services. It is about increasing productivity, creating value, thereby growing your business. Success in life does not come from feeling comfortable. It is a reality that only individuals/companies/nations that can consistently bring imaginative, value-added new products, services and value propositions to the market will survive and grow in a rapidly changing economy. Most individuals/companies/nations today are frustrated by their inability to turn ideas into profitable realities.
It is our belief at Youth Entrepreneurship and Leadership Project (YELEAP) that the future of Nigeria lies in building a productive economy where more Nigerians would do things with their hands instead of depending wholly on importation. The days of white-collar jobs with suit and ties were already going; the alternative lays in building a productive economy. Nigeria was essentially a trading economy. The companies were, however not owned by Nigerians. Nigerians were merely employed in those companies who needed a large army of workers, storekeepers, accountants, gatekeepers, clerks, secretaries, etc. All these have changed now
In reality, the solution to unemployment in Nigeria is just three words: “Made in Nigeria”. The market is still very big and if you can envision it, you can do it. The possibilities in the Nigerian market have not been fully exploited. It is for you to decide whether you want to be creative and cultivate entrepreneurial culture in order not to be perfect designers of curriculum vitae.
You are welcome to YELEAP ---re-inventing youth entrepreneurship and leadership for national prosperity!