International Youth Day 2022 and Nigerian Youth Ordeals – Business Post Nigeria

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By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
Friday, August 12, 2022, is a very important date in the global calendar. It is a day that the global community sets aside to celebrate this year’s International Youth Day. The important purpose of this annual celebration, going to information from the United Nations (UN), is to among other things raise voices against any injustice or discrimination happening in the world against the youth. Again, going by available records, International Youth Day was recognized by the United Nations when they passed a resolution towards creating it in 1999 at the United Nations General Assembly. This day came into existence with the recommendation of the World Conference of Ministers and they are responsible for 12th August being declared as International Youth Day.
Essentially, there was a need for this day because a very large amount of youth in the world are struggling with issues related to physical or mental health, education and employment and thus all these issues need to be addressed. When the government or society does not focus on the proper development of the youth, they tend to become rebellious and many times they can opt for the choices which are neither good for their development nor for their country.
Certainly, the global community uses workshops, concerts, conferences, cultural events, seminars and meetings involving national and local government officials and youth organizations to celebrate the day while recognizing the contributions of young people and volunteers who are working towards the betterment of the society and are raising important issues that need more attention of the society, there are, however, painful signs that the situation back here in the country says instead of celebrating, the average Nigerian youth is currently in a state of frustration.
From commentaries, the frustration of these young victims of our nation’s socioeconomic challenge was not only fuelled by the gap between the extravagant promises made in the past by the government without fulfilment but predicated on the ills that flow from bad leadership which daily manifests in the tradition of leading without recourse to transparency and accountability. And as a consequence, ‘stifles development, siphons all scarce resources that could improve infrastructure, bolster education systems and strengthen public health and stack the deck against the poor masses.
To explain this position, a recent report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), reveals that in the second-quarter Q2:2020 unemployment rate among young people (15-34 years old) was 34.9%, up from 29.7%, while the rate of underemployment for the same age group rose to 28.2% from 25.7% in Q3, 2018. These rates were the highest when compared to other age groupings. Nigeria’s youth population eligible to work is about 40 million out of which only 14.7 million are fully employed and another 11.2 million are unemployed.
For a better understanding of where this piece is headed, youth in every society, says a study report, has the potential to stimulate economic growth, social progress and our all-national development. The strategic role of youths in the development of different societies of the world such as Cuba, Libya, China, Russia and Israel is obvious.
Youth unemployment is potentially dangerous as it sends a signal to all segments of Nigerian society. Here in Nigeria, the rate of youth unemployment is high, even during the period of economic normalcy i.e. the oil boom of the 1970s (6.2%); 1980s (9.8%) and 1990s (11.5%). Youth unemployment, therefore, is not a recent phenomenon. But if what happened in the 1980s/90s was a challenge of sorts, what is happening presently, going by the latest report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), is a challenge. This and many other concerns have expectedly caused divided opinion and a proliferation of solutions.
From the above, it is obvious that ‘we are in a dire state of strait because unemployment has diverse implications. Security-wise, the large unemployed youth population is a threat to the security of the few that are employed. Any transformation agenda that does not have job creation at the centre of its programme will take us nowhere.’
From unemployment challenges to the poor education sector, it is accurately documented that many Nigerian children are out of school not because they are not willing to be educated but because the cost of education is beyond the reach of their parents. The public schools are short of teachers with dilapidated buildings. Private schools on the other hand where the environment is conducive to learning are cost-intensive and out of reach of so many students and their parents.
In like manner, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on strike since February 14, 2022. The group embarked on such industrial action to protest the government’s inability to implement their demands on salaries and allowances of lecturers, and improved funding for universities.
The implication is that for the past six months and counting, these youths have been idling away at home and the Federal Government has not considered the damage such failures impose on this future strength of the nation that their generation will provide the next leaders.
Now, looking at the above painful account, and considering the fact that the nation Nigeria races to the 2023 general election, the question(s) may be asked; how far can the youth go in a nation where tribal loyalty is stronger than our common sense of nationhood?  Can the youth effectively guard their courage? How far can the youths go as change agents in a country where excruciating poverty and starvation continue to drive more people into the ranks of beggars, whose desperate struggle for bread renders them insensible to all feelings of decency and self-respect? Or in a society where the majority of the youths can easily be induced to work across purpose and in a political space where a high density of the youth’s population resides in various villages with no access to information or livelihood? Can they truly create any impact? Or remain united for a very long time.
While the answer(s) to these questions is being awaited, the truth must be told to the effect that to make this year’s world youth day rewarding as well as change this trend, and achieve the objective of engaging youth in formal political mechanisms, increase the fairness of political processes by reducing democratic deficits, contributes to better and more sustainable policies which have symbolic importance that can further contribute to restoring trust in public institutions, especially among youth, there are inescapable actions that the youths must take, there are steps/action plans that Nigerian youths must execute.
Separate from constructively and sustainably engaging the Federal Government, It will not in any way be described as out of place if the youths harness their population advantage and their demographic dividends to form a formidable opposition that holds the government accountable or better still seek political offices come 2023 general election.
Supporting this position is Section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution adopted from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN, 1948) which gives everyone the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The youth must also access the power of the press as Section 22 stipulates that “the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall, at all times, be free to upload the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter [Chapter IV: Fundamental Rights] and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people”, which has been emboldened by the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
It is important that Nigerian youths continue to speak up against violations of human rights, suppression of free speech and freedom of the press. Unlike their elders, youths must not initiate, encourage or spread false, mischievous or divisive information capable, or with outright intent, of misleading the populace and disrupting societal harmony and peace. Within the ambience of the law, they must speak up with facts against any wrongdoing or oppression by the government or fellow citizens capable of endangering sustainable democracy and the effective delivery of good governance.
They (youths) should view as evil the argument by political deconstructionists that Nigerian youths must face difficulties as there is no nation where each has his/her own job and house, and where all children receive as much education as their minds can absorb. This claim is not only ‘rationally inexplicable but morally unjustifiable. It is a fact that government lacks the capacity to fix socioeconomic challenges alone. But any government with goodwill and sincerity to save and serve the people must develop creative and innovative channels to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development, environmental protection and job creation.
Also, Nigerians are in agreement that the law is the supreme instrument of the state which must be respected and no one is above the law. This particular fact, if well understood, will assist the youths to comprehend that as citizens, they are constitutionally eligible to vote and be voted for.
Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), a Lagos-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). He can be reached via Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374
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The office will never be the same. Right now, your desk might be at the dining table and you might be wearing sweatpants and a smart blouse as you talk to colleagues over a Zoom call. 
With many companies having adopted a remote hybrid working model, it’s anyone’s guess whether we’ll ever return to office environments the way they once were. And, while working from home has its benefits – like less time and money spent on commuting – many remote workers are struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance. 
When there is no break from the culture of non-stop achievement, it can be exhausting. “If the pace never seems to let up, and you don’t have time for a calmer, happier you at home, it starts feeling as if you’re conducting life at breakneck speed,” says Aisha Pandor, CEO of the home cleaning services company SweepSouth. As a working mom of three, Aisha has practical advice for career women working from home on attaining a calmer work-life balance.
Be organised
In an office environment, there are trays and filing systems galore. At home, don’t allow your desk to become cluttered with bits of paper. Arrange paperwork in a three-tier system: an in-pile for current matters, a folder for ongoing projects and a large box file for longer-term, but important documents you may need to reference. 
Keep set working hours
Have you ever noticed how productive you are in the countdown days to a holiday? Having less time to do something can have the result of making you more efficient. Stick to strict ‘office’ hours and set yourself mini-deadlines throughout the day to make sure you stay on track. 
Get it out of your head, make notes
At the start of every day, write down what needs to be done so that you can clear your mind, knowing important matters have been listed. Cross off the things you’ve completed successfully but don’t punish yourself for tasks undone. The sky isn’t going to cave in because they haven’t all been ticked off.
Edit meetings and commitments
Constantly be on the lookout for which meetings can be cut from your schedule, advises Aisha. Similarly, in your home life, do an audit of all the commitments you’ve taken on, like heading up your book club as well as being on the school’s PTA. Identify which of these makes you feel really fulfilled, then do a commitment cull so that you can enjoy life without being too tired to do so. 
Something needs to give
“It’s easy to let all the responsibilities of the house become part of your workday. Suddenly the dishes, hanging out the washing and making lunch are added to your pile of work commitments. Take time to calmly look at everything on your To Do list and say, I can’t do it all,” says Aisha.
Prepare ahead as much as you can to avoid work commitments colliding with home responsibilities. For example, make children’s lunches over the weekend and freeze them, and delegate responsibilities to others. 
Resist the temptation to use every spare minute you have during the day to hang up washing, sweep the floors, or tidy the house. There is only so much time in the day, and you need some of that to rest, so now is the time to hire a domestic worker to help clean the house, even if it is just once a week. 
Change gears to a calmer pace
Make a conscious effort to change down a gear to a calmer pace a few times during a workday. If you are breaking for lunch, say the words, “I’m going to have a calm 30 minutes for lunch now.” The words we speak are powerful, and by speaking your intention out loud, you reinforce it. 
Get up from your workspace
Your concentration wanes if you work for long stretches of time, so take regular breaks throughout the day to boost your productivity. Set a timer to remind you to get up every two hours and take a short walk or do stretches, advises Dr Helen Okoye, medical expert and spokesperson for the World Thrombosis Day (WTD) campaign.
“When you spend too much time sitting, your blood flow slows down, which can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT), where clots form in the legs. If a part of the blood clot breaks off it can travel to the lungs, forming a pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be fatal,” she says. While many people are aware that blood clotting can result from prolonged sitting during flights, it may come as a surprise to learn that people who have sat for many hours working at a computer have also developed DVTs.
“Any prolonged inactivity can put you at risk of a dangerous blood clot,” says Dr Okoye. “Just getting up and moving around to get your circulation going again is a simple, effective way to reduce that risk.” In fact, incorporate as much movement into your daily routine as possible. Dance while you’re cooking, folding the washing, and brushing your teeth – every bit of activity helps. 
And finally, yes, the economy is tough, the world is an uncertain place and having kids at home all the time is driving you mad, but for a calmer, more balanced approach to it all, remember that the only thing you can control is yourself.
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By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
On June 25, 2009, President Umaru Yar’Adua (now late) granted presidential amnesty to Niger Delta militants who had directly or indirectly participated in the commission of offences associated with militant activities in the Niger Delta, and who were willing to surrender their weapons and renounce armed struggle within a 60-day ultimatum (August 6–October 4, 2009).
The government targeted up to 10,000 militants whose attacks in the six Niger Delta states have cost the country a third of its oil production.
The programme was meant to stand on a tripod.
The first leg of the tripod was targeted at the disarmament and demobilization process; the second phase was to capture rehabilitation which is the training process, while the third phase is the Strategic Implementations of Action Plan towards holistic development of the Niger Delta region.
Similarly, going by available information in the public domain, after the rehabilitation programme, they are to be reintegrated into their various communities through vocational skills training, formal education or entrepreneurship skills acquisition either in Nigeria or abroad, depending on ex-militants interests. The reintegration programme ranges from six months to five years of training.
Without any shadow of a doubt, the programme has in the last fourteen years of its existence restored what analysts describe as relative peace in the region.
However, in the last decade also, Nigerians with critical interest have asked questions about some grey and unclear aspects of the programme.
For instance, many have asked these questions for too long and too often and received responses that seem to be substantive but actually, they are not. And some of these citizens today feel as if they are being manipulated.
Some have expressed their opinion and feelings about the programme without receiving responses from the operator, and they are feeling ignored. To the rest, Nigeria’s communication environment provides little opportunity for one to express oneself about the programme and as a result, they are feeling discouraged. To this group, their frustration is further fed by the awareness that responses/feed they receive from the media grow/breed cynicism.
Synoptically, while the programme is still up and running with no end in sight and has within this period under review recorded a very high rate of turnover of coordinators making many wonders if the Act establishing the programme made no provision for the tenured period for coordinators, the question begging for answer(s) are; how long was the Presidential Amnesty Programme initially structured to last? How many Ex-Militant were originally enlisted for the programme? How many have been trained? How many are still undergoing training? What stage is the programme; the Disarmament and demobilization process, rehabilitation/ training processes, or the Strategic Implementations/Action Plan for the holistic development of Niger Delta as a region?
How many of the Ex-militants are still receiving training? How many are currently receiving an allowance? What is the amount? Is it the same amount approved right in 2008 or has it been reviewed? What is the fate of those that were youthful then, but today mature adults with families? Are they still dependent on the stipend as approved in 2008 or has the Amnesty Office reviewed such allowances upward to accommodate their new status?
Most importantly, with the advent of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) which provides 3% for the oil-bearing/host communities, it will again elicit the question as to; when is the Federal Government going to wrap up the Amnesty programme? Or was it planned to last forever? If yes, what is the plan in place to make the Office self-sustaining?
Providing answers to these questions and drawing experience from similar programmes as implemented abroad are the two objectives of this piece.
Talking about a similar programme on the global stage and its inherent benefits, a particular one that naturally comes to mind is Burundi’s demobilization programme, described as a social transfer programme combining cash and in-kind benefit which lasted between 2004 and 2010.
As documented by Olivia D’ Aoust, Olivier Sterok and Philip Verwimp, the 1993-2009 conflict in Burundi was driven by years of ethnic discrimination. In the year 2000, the Arsha Peace Agreement laid the foundation for a peace process and a new constitution based on power-sharing and de-ethnicized political competition.
The programme was coordinated by the World Bank, and organized in three phases; demobilization, reinsertion, and reintegration. The demobilization phase started with disarmament followed by the transfer of the combatants to the demobilization centre. Ex-combatants spent eight days in the centre, attending training on economic strategies and entrepreneurship opportunities as well as peace and reconciliation.
As part of the reinsertion phase, demobilized combatants received a cash allowance worth months’ salary, paid in four instalments over a period of eighteen months. Demobilized combatants received the first re-insertion payment when leaving the demobilization centre, called the transitional Subsistence Allowance (TSA) by the World Bank, the reinsertion money was dedicated to ‘enable an ex-combatant return to their community and to sustain themselves and their families for a period of time.
Comparatively, when one juxtaposes this account with our amnesty model, the missing link becomes evident. There is a long history of inabilities on the part of the nation’s successive amnesty handlers to come up with, and implement a well-foresighted plan as demonstrated in Burundi. These particular failures/failings have forced many Nigerians at different times and places to query the handler’s intelligence and in some cases concluded that most of the coordinators lack a distinct set of aptitudes a leader must demonstrate in three central contexts of work; the accomplishments of the task, working with and through other people, and judging oneself and adapting one’s behaviours accordingly.
While the key difference determining the success of the Burundi programme and the unending failures of Nigeria’s experiment lies in leadership, there are however other observations to make and truths that this piece needs to underline.
First, apart from stakeholders questioning the wisdom behind teaching a man to fish in an environment where there is no river to fish or training a man without a job creation plan, how will FG explain the fact that the amnesty initiative which was programmed to empower the youths of the region via employment has finally left the large army of professionally-trained ex-militants without a job. In fact, the region and of course the nation are in a dire state of strait because unemployment has diverse implications.
Under the present circumstance, what the Federal Government seems to have forgotten is that security-wise, a large unemployed youth population is a threat to the security of the few that are employed, and any transformation agenda that does not have job creation at the centre of its programme will take us nowhere’,
Presently, this threat has become more pronounced in the oil-rich region of the country with the chunk of the proponents spearheaded by the large army of professionally trained ex-militants currently without a job. Proper management of these teaming youth is the panacea.
Finally, analysts say that while the amnesty offer is a positive move, the government has not yet shown a willingness to tackle the underlying problems in the region. Instead of continuing with this endless amnesty, it is important that to solve the problem of the region, Federal Government needs to abandon Presidential Amnesty Programme and in its place, implement the recommendation by a government-appointed committee, which a few years ago,  stated that Niger delta states should receive 25% of the country’s oil revenue, as against the present  13%.
Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), a Lagos-Based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and can be reached via Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374
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By Brian Abel
There is a huge demand for digital marketing skills around the world, hardly surprising in a vastly online world, in which the majority of people are considered to be permanently plugged in. In essence, if you’re not marketing to people digitally, you’re not really marketing to them at all. Considering this, it is astonishing just how big of a skills gap remains.
Prior to 2020, we already witnessed a wide digital marketing skill gap, and this has only increased in recent years thanks to the rapid digital transformation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, according to research by Salesforce and Rand Europe, the skill divide is so large that it could cause 14 G20 countries to lose out on $11.5 trillion in cumulative GDP growth. Africa is not excluded from this growing divide either. Despite difficulties ascertaining the precise figures on digital marketing within Africa, it is worth noting that research from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) shows that some 230 million jobs across the continent will require digital skills by 2030.
However, thankfully, within that same skill gap, there is a significant opportunity for young Africans and Nigerians. If young professionals are equipped with the necessary skills to succeed, especially within digital marketing, doors will begin to open for them. This will enable them to not only guide domestic businesses through their digital marketing transformations but also become significant players on the global digital stage.
The Importance of Digital Marketing Skills 
In order to understand the scale of the opportunity, it’s worth remembering that Nigeria’s GDP, already the largest in Africa, is set to reach $450 billion in 2022, having returned to a growth trajectory post-COVID-19. Furthermore, increasingly large proportions of that economy are also either wholly digital or digitally enhanced. In fact, digital revenues in the country are expected to hit $16.43 billion by 2025, up from $11.38 billion this year.
Moreover, it is also worth noting that only 51% of Nigeria’s population currently have internet access. However, as the infrastructure for connectivity becomes more ubiquitous and prices fall, that number will grow rapidly, and it is anticipated that 35 million additional Nigerians will be online by 2026. It is therefore clear that there remains plenty of room for growth within Nigeria’s economy, and in parallel, it will become increasingly important for both multinationals and homegrown businesses to market themselves online. That in turn makes it critical to not only foster, but also grow digital marketing skills, and ensure that those companies have the best possible on-the-ground support.
The Youth Opportunity
Fortunately, Nigeria already benefits from a booming young population, with an average age of 18, and many of which are digital natives, having grown up with mobile phones, and access to the internet. Therefore, having already been indoctrinated into the digital world, they are unafraid of technology, understand its potential to connect people with brands, and are eager to expand their knowledge.
Therefore, by equipping Nigeria’s youth with in-demand digital marketing skills, it is possible to not only ensure success for business marketing but also that these young professionals get the chance to enter high-growth industries with the promise of economic advancement.   This is undoubtedly critical in a country where unemployment for people aged 15 to 24 is as high as 53.4%.
Nevertheless, in order for any digital marketing skills initiative to make a tangible difference, it cannot be solely focused on providing young people with just general skills. Thus, instead must ensure that everyone has the relevant skills needed to effectively market to people across the world’s leading digital platforms, including Twitter, Snapchat, and Spotify.  This notion is in fact at the core of our commitments at Aleph Group. Our Digital Ad Expert Programme aims to educate, certify, and connect thousands of Africans with the digital skills needed to succeed in a rapidly digitising economy.
Our aim is to create a generation of young people that are capable of driving their local digital economies to the next level.
Beyond Marketing 
It is, of course, important to consider the additional benefits of these skills, as they will not only serve individuals who choose to pursue careers in marketing. In fact, the skills and certifications provided may also complement entrepreneurial enterprises or symbolize a diving board into the broader digital landscape, and thus, ultimately result in added developers, technicians, and well-rounded generalists crucial to building the digital economy.
The digital opportunity in Nigeria is massive, it is, therefore, crucial that the country’s young generations are given the best possible chance to embrace it, and therefore equipping them with essential digital marketing skills may well be the best place to start.
Brian Abel is the Team Lead for Greater Africa at Ad Dynamo by Aleph
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