GRADUATE and non-graduate youth unemployment has over the years become a cankerworm that continues to hamper government’s efforts at creating wealth and eliminating poverty in Nigeria.
Yet no solution was found until recently. It is consoling, therefore, that the Federal Government has designed a unique method for finding a lasting solution to the problem by partnering with the private sector in creating jobs for our teeming youths.
Recently, it was reported that the first made in Nigeria vehicles manufacturer, INNOSON Group, is partnering with the Federal Government by building technical schools where mechanics and technicians can be trained to acquire the necessary skills in the latest automobile technology and innovations with a view to equipping them for the challenges ahead.
Obviously, this is a laudable move as the bubbling economies of China, Asia, Japan and Europe started by equipping their energetic youths with requisite skills and know-how in the area of science and technology.This vision has today elevated their economies to great heights, and as a nation Nigeria must toe this line to free its citizens from the stranglehold of poverty arising from unemployment and lack of skills.
INNOSON Vehicles Manufacturing Plant has in its bid to support the Federal Government’s job creation efforts employed over 20,000 Nigerians at its different factories and other ancillary outfits across the country. With their expansion to other African countries, many Nigerian youths are being offered employment opportunities and the multi-faceted effect of this patriotic act to the affected families and the society cannot be overemphasized.
It is equally remarkable that the federal and state governments have realised the vital role that a conglomerate like INNOSON Group can play in alleviating the plight of job seekers by patronising the company.
The policy by the Federal Government of insisting that all ministries, departments and agencies must patronise INNOSON locally made vehicles is novel and laudable considering that it is the only way to keep the needed jobs at home, rather than creating jobs for youths of other countries by permitting the importation of foreign made vehicles. It is common knowledge that unemployment is the greatest problem facing Nigeria today.
The feat accomplished by the INNOSON Group as the manufacturer of the first made in Nigeria vehicles, and multi billion dollars investment they have made demonstrates unparalleled confidence in the Nigerian economy under President Goodluck Jonathan.
In a clime where many seek the easy way out by turning our landscape into a dumping ground for all manner of imported vehicles, the courageous move to invest here can only but bolster the confidence of foreign investors to explore the opportunities in Nigeria .
Since government alone cannot create enough jobs for our teeming populace, and as most countries in the world are now shifting their focus to private sector –driven economies, it is only desirable that Nigerians need to reorientate themselves towards patronising locally made vehicles. By doing so, we restore the national pride and support local industries, and reduce capital flight. This will no doubt boost the local economy as more jobs will be available for our young graduates, and the much needed skills acquisition drive will be realised within the shortest time possible.
It must be stated here that no society has ever developed technologically by depending on foreign products; rather it is through bold moves by such companies like INNOSON Vehicles Manufacturing Ltd that countries develop rapidly.
Just imagine for a moment a situation where we have such big vehicles manufacturing plants like INNOSON in the 36 states of Nigeria. There is no doubt that they will reduce unemployment drastically over a period of time. Therefore the federal, states and local governments must ensure that the policy of patronising only locally made vehicles like INNOSON is vigorously pursued and sustained to help Nigeria attain its avowed development goals in concrete terms.
Available statistics show that the total import of vehicles to Nigeria in 2012 alone was about 400,000 units with the new ones numbering 100, 000, and 300,000 used ones, at a total value of USD3,451 billion. Furthermore, automobile importers account for the second highest users of foreign exchange in Nigeria, with the attendant capital flight as well as engendering inflation in the economy.
Therefore, to save over 500,000 jobs which importation of vehicles costs Nigeria, is it not more prudent to concentrate our resources and energy in supporting local vehicles manufacturers like INNOSON Group that have already shown the capacity to provide jobs locally for our people?
To realise this, there is an urgent need for the National Assembly to put the necessary legislations in place to protect local vehicles manufacturers.The surest way of achieving this is to adopt the recent Federal Government National Automotive Policy, which seeks to provide the necessary incentives and enabling environment for local industries to thrive. Failure to do so will further encourage foreign companies and their Nigerian partners to continue to use Nigeria as a dumping ground for imported vehicles, thereby stifling local production and creating jobs for youths of other countries.
With the introduction of the new National Automotive Policy, the industry is on an irreversible progression movement, and no effort should be spared in order to sustain the tempo. It is remarkable that with mere adoption and announcement of the policy, many key players in the industry are now thinking inwards, and restrategising as examplified by the INNOSON Vehicles Manufacturing Company. Talk of backward integration.
This is a welcome development, for whereas the importation bazaar was not adding value to the economy, the new approach would provide the elusive industrial jobs for our citizens.
This is aptly demonstrated at the various manufacturing plants of the INNOSON Group, where boys and girls are seen operating different production machines. This will not only enable them to have the necessary skills, but will accelerate the much desired technology transfer and put Nigeria on the global map like Malaysia, China, India and many others.
Mr CHUKWUDI ENEKWECHI, a journalist, wrote from Abuja.