In an attempt to overturn the economic situation of the country, experts have charged members of the private sector (organizations and businesses) to invest in Nigerian youths so as to help turn around the economy.
The experts who double as high-level stakeholders spread across National Population Commission, UN agencies led by the United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA], HACEY Health Initiative, GBC Health, Population Council and ONE Campaign recently held the first ever Private Sector Conference which bothers on how private sector can invest in young people to harnessing the Demographic dividends in Nigeria, at Four points by Sheraton, Lagos.
According to the Director of Research & Development, Hacey Health Initiative, Paul Ojajuni, empowerment and education of young people is vital to the promotion of accelerated economic growth, urging the concerned parties to tap into the resources of the youths of Nigeria so as to develop the economy.
He said that the Nigerian population is really young, so, we consider that an untapped resource and then we believe that if investment is made in that population, there will be returns on investment which will lead to accelerated economic growth.
The concept of Demographic dividend is having a very young, healthy and productive young population that can actually contribute to the society, he added.
Furthermore, Ojajuni urged the Nigerian youths to value opportunities and advised them to hold the bull by its horn so as to tap into the opportunities that are available and will arise as a result of this initiative.
“The youths need to be proactive regarding things that they need to do, secondly, they need to be able to create opportunities rather wait for the government to create opportunities for them,” Ojajuni added.
“The population of Nigeria is increasing rapidly and we need to control the size at which the population is increasing and improve our life expectancy. The government cannot do it alone; the development partners cannot do it alone ,” Sylvia Adebajo, country director, Population Council said at Nigeria’s first Private sector Conference on Demographic Dividend in Nigeria held yesterday in Lagos.
“We need to engage the private sector to contribute to the development of our human capital to achieve demographic dividend,” Adebajo said.
“The shape of the population of any nation determines its level of development and demographic dividend is not automatic, it has to be planned for,” Osaretin Adonri, assistant representative, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representing Diene Kieta, country representative, said.
“We must create the population structure that we want and that structure must be the one that has more of our population working than the percentage that is dependent.
“To be able to increase the population that is working and reduce the dependent population we must start from planning the population and that is where family planning is very important,” Adonri said.
One of the aims of the conference is to ensure government and private sector collaborate to invest in the youths of the country so that the can both, as one, work towards the common good of all by harnessing the Demographic dividends in Nigeria.
As such, Ojajuni, urged the government to join the train by putting in place some workable policies to grease the engine of the new train.
“We expect there to be certain policies in the country that will enable young people reach their full potentials.
“Such are policies regarding health, policies regarding entrepreneurship, policies regarding education and not just enacting policies but policies that are well translated at all levels to action.
He also added that, “to harness demographic dividend the private sector to play huge role. We’ve seen the private sector over time (such as Access Bank, Microsoft, etc), initiate programmes and projects across sectors which have been successful in health, financing and others.
“The private sector is a huge partner in this and that’s why we are doing this for the private sector and all Nigerians.
“We strongly believe that Nigerian youths are not lazy but very productive people, he concluded.