According to Statista, approximately, 1 in 2 Nigerians is under the age of 18, with 71% of the population under the age of 30, and based on the current projected demographic growth rate, Nigeria will have one of the youngest populations by 2050. If exposed to advanced knowledge, skills and trainings, the current estimated over 100 million youth population can significantly enhance social and economic interactions that will make the country compete favourably with any country of the world.
However, it is a source of concern that same country with the potential of being a leader in agriculture, technology, innovation, digitization etc, dawdles abysmally behind and is now the headquarter of poverty in the world. In fact, Bloomberg recently reported that the nation’s unemployment rate currently stood at 33.3%, the second highest globally behind Namibia at 33.4%.
At SING Nigeria, one area that we continue to focus attention is in advocating and working tirelessly towards eliminating poverty through human capital development. While we have watched with disappointment that many state Governors barely have sustainable plans for equipping and developing the human capital of their people, Gombe state is stranding out in this regard; and the state which is now widely regarded as the commercial capital of the north-east region is on a commendable trajectory.
In a recent visit on the occasion of the 27th edition of the National Micro Small and Medium Enterprises MSMEs, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was impressed by the level of investment in human capital development in the state, especially in MSME which is a key driver of growth. For instance, the administration of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa launched the first ever 10-Year Development Agenda for Gombe State, which identified the MSME subsector as an important driver of economic and social advancement; while equally equipping the teeming population of young men and women with the skills and expertise necessary to succeed in the 21st century.
The Governor is gradually becoming the symbol of human capital development in Nigeria, and we are calling other state Governors to borrow a leaf from the ongoing developmental agenda in Gombe state. While we agree that infrastructural development is important for businesses to thrive, governments must urgently think in the direction of empowering our abundant human resources for sustainable growth.
Again, we cannot reiterate enough the need for the nation to focus on equipping our young population with digital skills relevant for global competitiveness. It is either we are deliberate about coding, networking, and even robotics skills for the population or we will continue to trail the rest of the world at a huge cost.