Friday, 12 September 2014

FGN 3 MILLION JOBS IN 12 MONTHS: NECA FAULTS THE CONTENT OF THE PRESIDENTIAL JOBS BOARD




ThisDay Newspaper Online Publications, September 12, 2014, reports the position and view of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, with regards to the composition of the members of the newly inaugurated Presidential Jobs Board. It decries the exclusion of the “real” private sector from the Presidential Jobs Board.

But it was reported yesterday by ThisDay that the President said: 

“We have carefully constituted the Jobs Board to include key members of the public and private sector, (and) this is to ensure that the Board can draw on the cross expertise of people in government as well as those in private enterprises.”

In the statement above, it is clear that representatives from the private sector are included in the Board as members. However, it seems that NECA has a different view and definition of the private sector from the government’s. NECA emphasizes on the “REAL” private sector which it describes as “Grassroots enterprises and entrepreneurs”. This means that the private sector being recognized by the government is not the “real” private sector. According to the Director General of NECA, Olusegun Oshinowo, the government is mistaking “successful entrepreneurs” in the country for the “real” private sector. And this, perhaps, is wrong.

The “Real” Private Sector in Nigeria
NECA defines the “real” private sector as “grassroots enterprises and entrepreneurs”, and members of the following institutions: “Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA;Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria, MAN; Nigerian Association of Chambers ofCommerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA; National Association ofSmall and Medium Scale Enterprises, NASMEs; and the National Association ofSmall Scale Industries, NASSIs". This implies that any individual or organization that does not meet this definition is not and should not be recognized as being a representative of the “real” private sector. 

Let us take a look at the individuals appointed by the Federal Government to represent the private sector. They include, the Chairman of the United Bank for Africa, Mr. Tony Elumelu; the President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; the Chairman, Stanbic IBTC Plc, Mr. Atedo Peterside; the Chairman, Innoson Group, Mr. innocent Chukwuma; the Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Bisi Onasanya; the Chairman/CEO of Aiteo Oil and Gas, Mr. Benny Peters; and others. 

From the list above, it is arguably clear that the individuals appointed as representatives of the private sector are successful entrepreneurs and do not reflect the description of NECA of the “real” private sector and hence, they are not true representatives of the real private sector. As far as NECA and, perhaps, its sister institutions are concerned, they are not included and represented in the Presidential Jobs Board.

Possible Implications of this Perceived Exclusion on the Initiative
  1. Non-Involvement and Non-Participation of the Real Private Sector
The real private sector is the backbone of any employment intervention in the economy. Excluding this sector and its members spells doom for any job creation initiative. The involvement, participation and contribution of the grassroots enterprises and entrepreneurs should be earnestly courted, if any success is expected from the Presidential Jobs Board.

  1. Lack of Strategic Partner and Ally
Any initiative of the government at addressing the critical issue of unemployment in the country must enhance strategic alliances and foster more effective partnerships amongst stakeholders with genuine interest in achieving real outcomes and benefits. The real private sector is a major partner and stakeholder and should not in any way be excluded and less represented.

  1. Imminent Failure of the Initiative
Neglecting the “real” private sector is an indication that the present initiative of the Federal Government to create 3 million jobs in one year is likely to fail just like many others before it. Undermining this sector and group is a wrong step being taken by the government. The government and its associates should know that the most likely place to look for new jobs is the “new firms”—that is, the real private sector. The real private sector and its young and new firms are major drivers of new jobs, and should thus be well represented in any initiates, policies and programmes designed to address the dire employment situation in the country.

The cry of exclusion and non-representation of the real private sector by NECA is a pointer to the fact that the initiative of the government to create 3 million jobs in 12 months lacks the required foundation and structure to be successful. If there had been a comprehensive National Employment Policy Framework, the involvement, participation of all relevant stakeholders and partners would have been considered and welcome. 

The cry of exclusion is far from over. The Women in Enterprise and young entrepreneurs are not included and represented in the Jobs Board. That is a weakness and deficiency in the initiative that must quickly be addressed before any meaningful progress can be made. Exclusion is a weighty issue in socioeconomic development today that must not be overlooked.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

3 MILLION JOBS IN 12 MONTHS: NIGERIAN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SETS UP A PRESIDENTIAL JOB BOARD



 
Another attempt among many to deal with the increasing rate of unemployment and its consequences in Nigeria has prompted the Federal government to set up a Presidential Job Board yesterday, September 10, 2014. The actual reason for this new development could be deduced from the comment of the President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, which reads:


This means that the Presidential Job Board is created to find and bridge the missing link between “training people to acquire skills and job creation”. 

The President also observed that, “…over a period (now), agencies of government are more interested in training”, and hence the need to redirect effort towards creating jobs for the unemployed. 

When I read the article bearing this information from a number of articles in the ThisDay Newspaper online publications, Thursday, September 11, 2014, so many thoughts came to my mind, and I really want to share some with you. I urge you to make comments and share your personal views and opinions on this new attempt by the Federal Government of Nigeria to create 3 million jobs in 12 months for the growing population of the unemployed (and maybe, the underemployed too) in the country.

Where to Start
Do you think setting up a Presidential Job Board will actually bridge the gulf between job trainings and job creation without any attempt to address the fundamental problems with the job training programmes being initiated and administered by the government and its departments and agencies across the country? I doubt! From all indications, the job training programmes are not founded on sound National Policy Frameworks. They are mainly “reactive interventions” and therefore, they cannot create actual jobs or provide opportunities for job creation. From my keen observation, SMEDAN, ITF, PTDF, NDE, SURE-P, NIMASA, Women Affairs and many others are fragmented and isolated interventions and, thus, lack the capacity to create productive and decent works for the unemployed in the country.

Any effort by the Federal Government (including the State and Local Governments) to sincerely address the situation of unemployment in the country is prerequisite on the development of a National Employment Policy Framework. This must involve a sustained, determined and concerted action by a wide range of actors. Job creation, being a cross-cutting and high-priority issue should be addressed within the framework of an interdisciplinary, multi-sectoral, and multi-stakeholder approach. Without a National Employment Policy Framework, it would be difficult to check the grow unemployment in the country.

Where Will the Jobs Come From?
“3 Million jobs in 12 months”, that is the goal of the newly inaugurated Presidential Job Board. And I critically want to know where the jobs would come from. That, I think, is a question you would like to get an answer for too. 

Where do you think such jobs will come from? Well, if we don’t care about the quality and decency of the jobs, the SURE-P approach, where unemployed Nigerians are being recruited as sweepers of “streets”, “forced” apprentices in some companies and organizations and local farmers, etc, may be the answer. But I don’t think the individuals that constitute the Presidential Job Board would want to adopt that approach. And if they wish to hear me, the only and sure place to look at is the firm. 

It is evident from researches across the globe that all net job creation, in any economy, occur in firms. Without firms, especially start-ups, net job creation for the economy would be negative. It is clear that new and young companies and the entrepreneurs that created them are the engines of job creation and eventually economic growth.

Mostly all debates and discussions on employment point to the fact that “small businesses” account for half of the labour force and are therefore the key to future generation of jobs. This should occupy the attention of the federal government, its policymakers and the members of the Job Board, and perhaps provide some cause for optimism amidst the continuing gloom about job creation in the country.

However, to adopt the “Firm” approach, the Federal Government and the Presidential Job Board need to develop a National Entrepreneurship Policy Framework.

This National Entrepreneurship Policy Framework will address the following:
  1. Ease of business entry and exit,
  2. Exposure to entrepreneurship through education,
  3. Positive supportive climate and infrastructure for entrepreneurship at state and local level,
  4. Government support for entrepreneurs,
  5. Availability of capital needed to start and grow new firms,
  6. Fiscal regime,
  7. Public sector procurement,
  8. Knowledge transfer policy,
  9. Entrepreneurial networks, and entrepreneurial advocates,
  10. Labour market regulation,
  11. Public sector R&D,
  12. Public physical infrastructure,
  13. Intellectual property legislation, and
  14. The general educational system (attainment levels, nature of curriculum, subjects studied, method of teaching etc.).
Attention also should be given to the sectoral distribution of companies in the country. A situation where only few economic sectors are considered above others should be discouraged. The Federal Government and the Presidential Job Board should focus on all the sectors of the economy and not only on the Petroleum and Agricultural sectors.

In conclusion, I would like to state that the goal of 3 million jobs in 12 month is unrealizable considering the absence of a National Employment Policy Framework and a comprehensive National Entrepreneurship Policy Framework. The cart must be behind the horse to ensure a safe and exciting journey through any paths. 

I appreciate the effort of the President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the entire members of the Presidential Job Board. I wish them success in their work. And I would not mind, if called upon to contribute my “QUOTA”.