By Bankole Wright
Nigeria billionaire and owner of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has disclosed that he is uncomfortable with the high rate of unemployment in the nation. He said the problem of unemployment and the high rate of poverty gives him sleepless nights.
Dangote made this known on Saturday when a team of business executives from Lagos Business School, LBS, visited him at his multi-billion dollars refinery and petrochemical projects in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos.
“What keeps me awake at nights is not really the enormity of business ideas running through my mind, but it is actually high rate of unemployment in the country. It is an eyesore and I think we have collective responsibility to solve this problem,” The Nation quoted Dangote.
He added that Nigeria’s growing population should have been an asset if the strengths of the youth were harnessed properly, however, this is not the case and because of that, poverty and crime are on the rise.
He said: “The more poverty that you have in a society without education, the more criminals you breed. It is surprising that poverty grows in this country as population grows, especially in the North where you have low income families bearing score of children they cannot cater for.”
Dangote also pointed out that it was not the duty of the government to create jobs, stressing that creation of an enabling environment for entrepreneurs to thrive should be the focus of any government. Using developed countries as an example, he said that growth and development in such countries were achieved, not by the government, but by the private sector.
The richest black man in the world said that insurgency and militancy were linked to unemployment and that criminality would fester in a society where the government does not encourage entrepreneurs to create jobs. He cited the Arewa youths who asked Igbos to leave Northern Nigerian as an example and said unemployment was the reason for their actions.
He said: “Some guys who have no relevance and values came out to issue a warning that Igbo should leave the North. I am surprised everybody started talking about this nonsense. Why are we talking about it? Obviously, in a place where there is a lot of joblessness, it is expected that this kind of jobless people would come out with all sorts of anger. We understand the reasons why they are angry, but they cannot justify their action when they have decided not to work. They only issue senseless warning to keep themselves relevant.”