By Tosin Kolade
Abuja – Nigerian Government has expressed its willingness to partner with the British Government in tackling unemployment and creating job opportunities for young persons in the country.
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Dr Festus Keyamo, stated this when the Political Counsellor, British High Commission, Mr Dominic Williams, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.
“We are ready to collaborate with our partners all over the world to open up avenues for job creation. We are open to all kinds of suggestions and levels of co-operation,” he said.
He disclosed that Government has opened up other sectors as part of efforts to diversify the economy from oil, which would in turn create room for employment.
According to him, part of the efforts of Government to diversify the economy and boost job creation include empowering people to go back to the farm through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, as well as activating the mines and steel sector.
Keyamo noted that government, through the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), has been empowering many youths by training them on basic artisinal skills to make them self-employed, as well as employers of labour.
He observed that empowering the youths with the acquisition of skills has also reduced the practice of importing such skills from other countries.
“The problem of unemployment can only be solved, not through direct employment by the government, but by training people to acquire basic skills by which they can be self-employed and also employ some small workforce,” he said.
The Minister of State maintained that by curbing corruption, and diversifying the economy, government has been on the right track to creating jobs.
Earlier, the Political Counsellor, British High Commission, Abuja, Mr Dominic Williams, sought ways the Britain could assist Nigeria in its efforts at job creation.
In a related development, Keyamo, also said job creation and youth employment were top priorities of President Muhammadu Buhari’s next level agenda.
While receiving members of the Pan African Youth Union, led by Mr Niyi Oladele, the minister noted that unemployment was one of the major problems facing youths in the African continent and the social vices therein, could be attributed to youth unemployment.
“There is the problem of insecurity all over Africa and this problem cannot be caused by youths that are much older in terms of age or gainfully employed.
“There is no way the youth that is gainfully employed even as an artisan will have time to engage in kidnapping, terrorism, armed robbery, banditry and other social vices.
“The thinking here in the Ministry of Labour and Employment and this Government is that the issue of youth employment and job creation should be top of our agenda.
“This is why Mr President has decided to strengthen the Ministry and its Agencies, especially the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
“There are a lot of programmes under the Ministry and its parastatal agencies that are basically aimed at empowering our youths by making sure that they acquire basic skills to enable them survive on their own,” he said.
The Minister also corrected the misconception by the general public that the Ministry of Labour and Employment provides only white collar jobs to people, saying ” This is not true”.
“That is not what the Ministry is aimed at achieving, we want to make sure our youths acquire skills that would make them entrepreneurs and even employers of labour,” he stressed.
He appealed to the Youth Union to generate a data base of youths with skills that the Federal Government could use to identify youths to train and empower, saying that this government would have met the objectives of the Union.
He said government was more committed than never before to work and cooperate with the group in job creation and skills acquisition.
The leader of the delegation, Mr Niyi Oladele, said the aim of the visit was to seek partnership and working relationship with the Ministry.
He pledged the Union’s readiness to work with the Federal Government in the area of creating jobs and employment for the Nigerian youths.