Debates, Resources

IS ENTREPRENEURSHIP A VIABLE SOLUTION TO SOLVING UNEMPLOYMENT IN NIGERIA? By Izuchukwu Temilade Nwagbara

IS ENTREPRENEURSHIP A VIABLE SOLUTION TO SOLVING UNEMPLOYMENT IN NIGERIA?

 First speaker; Faculty of Law against Faculty of Dentistry, 1st round, faculties, Jaw War 2019

Ladies and gentlemen, it is said that he who does not work should not eat, however, according to the National Bureau of Statistics 2019, 16 million Nigerians want to work but do not have jobs. As such, the bone of contention in today’s debate is whether entrepreneurship is a viable solution to unemployment in Nigeria and to that we strongly disagree.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines viable as being capable of working, functioning, or developing adequately. So, distinguished audience, the first question should be is entrepreneurship itself in Nigeria viable? For only a viable concept can give viability to another concept. According to investopedia, an entrepreneur is an individual who creates a new business, bearing most of the risks and enjoying most of the rewards. As beautiful as this concept sounds, the Nigerian economic environment ensures that the risks of doing business are so enormous that the reward isn’t commensurate. As reported by the punch newspapers on October 24, 2019, despite Nigeria moving up 15 spots on the global Ease of Doing Business Index released by the World Bank, it still ranks a poor 131 out of 190 countries. In fact, in ranking 131 on the index, only two states were considered, Lagos and Kano, the easily prosperous economies. In other words, the other 34 states are worse when it comes to doing business. Therefore ladies and gentlemen, is it the entrepreneurs who do not find it easy to do business and that would find it easy to employ?

Impartial judges, the major goal of entrepreneurs is to maximize profit, as such when my opponents tell that entrepreneurs contribute a large chunk to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, let them know that it’s not because the entrepreneurs are patriotic Nigerians and want to help the country but simply because they want to make profit. As such, in a bid to maximize profit, the entrepreneur seeks to cut every possible cost including the cost of paying employees; for instance, Mama Risi would rather get a cheap maid from Cotonou to be her sales girl. Even the more established entrepreneurship outfits such as banks, factories and firms prefer to engage contract workers also known as casual workers in order to cut organizational cost as reported in an article titled “The Rise of Casual Work in Nigeria: Who Loses, Who Benefits?” published in the African Research Review Journal. In fact, the NYSC program has even made it easier for them as they now have a pool of fresh graduates to grant internships to every year without having to employ anyone permanently. So you see, distinguished audience, entrepreneurs would rather prefer temporary employment which is nothing but unemployment on sabbatical, and that is not a viable solution.

Furthermore, being employed should not just entail having a job which gives you income, there should also be a sense of fulfillment and joy when undertaking the job. As such, imagine an individual who trained 6 years to be a qualified Dentist and because of no job began to sell airtime in bulk, that would be utterly unfulfilling even if he named his business Dr. Efunkunle’s Airtime Boost.

Now, what then is a viable solution in Nigeria? The peculiarities of our country show that Nigeria is a mixed economy as opposed to purely capitalist economies like the United States, as such the government has a big role to play. There are many utilities yet to be fully operational which are capable of providing robust employment opportunities for Nigerians. For instance, according to the Railways Africa report of 2008, the Nigerian Railway Corporation employed about 45,000 people between 1954 and 1975 during its blossoming years but only had an employment of 6,516 people in 2008. As reported by the punch newspapers, the Chief Operating Officer of Dangote Industries announced that the singular Dangote Refinery Project would create 300,000 jobs, very commendable. However,  if the 4 dormant refineries of the NNPC are revamped, then there’s guaranteed employment of 4 times that figure. So we see, entrepreneurship might be the mainstay of employment in purely capitalist economies like the United States’, but in a mixed economy like Nigeria, government intervention is a viable and certain solution to unemployment.

My opponents may then say that  we cannot afford to wait for a corrupt and inept Nigerian government to create employment, but are the self-centred, labour manipulation, capitalist entrepreneurs who have never for once complied  with the minimum wage policy any better? I would rather join political pressure groups to demand good governance from the government than protest the substandard treatment from someone that will look at me and tell me “is it your father’s company?”, at least Nigeria is my fatherland.

Ladies and gentlemen, my opponents’ argument is in two dimensions; first, that entrepreneurs should employ the massive unemployed bulk which my speech has practically shown to be impossible. The second is that every Ugo, Kabiru and Ladi who has no job should start a business and become a C.E.O, well, I am here to employ their minds to a fact, as reported on businessnews.com.ng, the Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises stated that  65% of new businesses die within the first 3 years of operation. As such, it’s clearly evident that entrepreneurship is not a viable solution to unemployment in Nigeria and my dental friends should chew their words.