By Lekan Bilesanmi
Unemployed youths in search of elusive jobs should think of what they can do on their own, according to an entrepreneur and construction expert, Mr. Adeniyi Adekunle.
Adekunle noted that unemployed youths must face the current reality that it is not possible for government or even the private sector to provide job for everybody
“The situation in the country has made it imperative for youths to put on their thinking cap, and decide on what venture can give adequate returns”, he said.
“We have to face the reality, there is no doubt that government, be it at the local, state or federal level, cannot provide job for everybody. However, for those who are not fortunate to secure paid employment, it is not the end of the world. They can think of small or medium ventures which will not require big capital to start and, from there, be big time entrepreneurs rather than being a liability or dependent of anybody.
“You don’t need millions to start a business. The most important thing is for you to have the courage to start a venture no matter how little the beginning may be”.
Using his own story as an example, Adekunle, who is the Chief Executive Officer, SAMAD Group of Companies, said he worked as a laborer at construction sites before he later rose to become a renowned contractor.
“I remember the beginning very well, it was not rosy. But I was determined to succeed and become somebody in life. To survive, I had to follow my uncle to sites where I carried cement and block and, when I wanted to start on my own, I had only N50, 000.
But, today, I thank God that the business I started with N50, 000 has grown into a multi-million naira ventures, and we are still growing and expanding. Our unemployed youths should not despise little beginnings”.
While x-raying the construction industry, Adekunle said it has not fared badly despite the turbulence experienced in the economy.
“The construction sector has always been a very busy sector. Not only that, it is also a sector that requires close scrutiny and that’s why I’m very happy with the measures being taken by Lagos State government, including the monitoring of construction work, taking place in any part of the state, be it government project or private project.
We should give kudos to Lagos State Building Control Agency (LABSCA) for doing a yeoman’s job”. Describing Governor Akinwumi Ambode, as a man of action, Adekunle said the governor had taken prompt action to address the issue of buildings’ collapse in Lagos State.
According to him, factors, including the use of fake building materials, expired cement and lack of technical supervision by construction experts, are some of the reasons buildings collapse.
His words, “Some building contractors are fraudulent. They cut corners by using substandard materials or even inadequate number of items required for solid construction work. Then a lot of people who call themselves building contractors are quacks and, unfortunately, we have a large number of these characters operating in the sector. They should be flushed out. We need to sanitize the construction industry”.
Urging federal and state governments to take measures to boost the construction industry, Adekunle said the sector can generate millions of jobs for the teeming unemployed youths.
“Wherever construction work is going on, you see a lot of people working and, when people work, it will be a boost to the economy. That’s why I like the transformation that has taken place in Lagos since Governor Akinwumi Ambode took over the mantle of leadership”, he said.
“In different parts of Lagos State today, construction work is going on everywhere. You have new roads and BRT lanes being constructed, you have modern parks and garages being erected. There is no local government in Lagos State where one construction work or the other is not going on, and with these construction work, hundreds of thousands are employed.
This is what any government worth its salt should be doing – jobs opportunities should be created, and this is what Ambode is doing, and by so doing, he is changing the face of Lagos State. What the governor is doing is visible for all to see, so it is not a case of praise-singing him – he deserves all the accolades. I urge other state governors to emulate him”
Another thing that has further Ambode to Adekunle;s heart in Lagos State government’s decision to patronize local contractors.
“This shows Governor Ambode has confidence in us. For those who believe in giving construction jobs to foreign firms, they should learn a lesson from him. The governor has shown himself to be a patriot. By patronizing local contractors, our economy will boom, but if jobs are given solely to foreign firms, it will hurt our economy as such will result in capital flight.
I’m not against giving construction work to foreign firms, especially where it is considered absolutely necessary, but our leaders should find a way to accommodate both local and foreign contractors,” he stated.
Using his own firm as an example, Adekunle said his company had successfully handled construction works for Lagos, Ogun and Osun State governments.
“We were involved in road construction and drainage projects for Ogun, Lagos and Osun state governments and it has been commendation galore for us. Even private projects we undertake, it is the same attitude; we don’t compromise on quality and standard.
My philosophy has always been, do quality jobs first, money will come later. Any contractor or construction expert that focus his eyes and mind on money first is bound to fail, and such a person is not fit to operate in the construction industry,” he said.
Adekunle, who has also been involved in organizing seminars and workshops for contractors and site workers, said his intention now is to go round all the local governments in Lagos where more people will have the opportunity of benefitting from the program.
Asking the Federal Government to take urgent measures to revive the nation’s comatose iron and steel sector, he lamented that the iron and steel industry in Nigeria had been left to rot.
To prove his point, Adekunle, a graduate of Lagos State University, LASU, and Hydraform Institute in South Africa, said if the sector is not viable, Indian investors and other foreigners who have established iron and steel factories in the country would not have done so.
“We have been told severally and even in recent time that our oil wells would dry up one day – if we have been told this, is it not then imperative for us to look at other sources of generating revenue for the country? Iron and steel is money-spinning. That sector should not be neglected. Even advanced countries of the world don’t joke with their iron and steel industry,” he added.