#Impact365: “Unemployment can only be curbed by action, not roundtable conversations” – Mayowa Ajibodu of #ShunUnemployment

The prevalence of unemployment in Nigeria is one of the major setbacks that faces the economy.  In the last quarter of 2016, the rate of unemployment in the country went up by 4 percent from 10.4 percent that was obtainable in the previous quarter.

Recently, the Nigerian Senate developed fresh interest in tackling youth unemployment by having conversations that matter with stakeholders in the education sector, government agencies, youth bodies and other relevant agencies in a Senate Youth Roundtable. Now that the question of unemployment has been brought to the fore, the work of NGOs such as Shun Unemployment has become very important.

In this interview with YNaija’s Impact365, Mayowa Ajibodu, the convener of Shun Unemployment lets us in on their work.

Tell us more about Shun Unemployment

Shun Unemployment Foundation is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) registered by the Corporate Affair Commissions aimed at reducing the alarming rate of unemployment and driving youth creativity, innovation and enterprise through the means of institutionalized engagements in tertiary institutions and support programs for graduates, artisans and the less privileged of the society across Nigeria in particular and Africa in general.

What inspired the decision to set up the NGO?

We were driven by the mushroom growth of unemployment and the rate of youth involvement in illegal businesses.

What is the practical approach that Shun Unemployment takes and recommends in reducing unemployment in Nigeria?

We work with our three integral modules- Train, Empower and Nurture. This we do by engaging with undergraduates during our annual campus tours, seminars and workshop, inspirational visual content, career and business advice, provision of job for the unemployed. Our recommendation should be for the government to establish duable and viable policies that will favour the youth and involve private organizations to play their part through Corporate Social Responsibility.

Yesterday, the Nigerian Senate held the first Senate Youth Roundtable aimed at tackling youth unemployment, was your NGO a part of that and do you think it will be effective in the long run?

Well, our NGO was not invited to the roundtable dialogue. We could only hope and pray that the outcome will work in the favour of the unemployed and not to enrich some few. There has always been dialogue, decisions but only few results….unemployment can only be curbed by action and not roundtable conversations.

Who should take the largest share of the blame of the unemployment situation in Nigeria? Graduates for not thinking out of the box or the government for letting the Nigerian youth down?

We know there is a problem, what we must do is to find a solution. Shun Unemployment has not always been in the position of shifting blames. Like we always say, government is not the problem, unemployment is. Still, the government has a part to play, so also the youth.

How bad is the unemployment state in Nigeria? What are the statistics?

The rate of unemployment is drastically alarming. Just in the last quarter of 2016, the percentage shot up from the previous 10.2% to 14.2%, making the rate of unemployment to be about 11.549 million. Yes, it is bad!

Since inception, how many young people has Shun Unemployment worked successfully with?

We have been able to provide mental empowerment from our various platform to about 2,600 youth, about 300 has receive vocational training and less than 20 received grant, working materials and career advice.

What are the major challenges your NGO faces?

One of the greatest challenges has been funding. We have so many people on our platform with good business ideas or innovations who could not get access to funds from us. We desire to reach out to more youth and undergraduates across the country and all these has been affected by lack of funding. Also, we have problems with getting companies to hire some of the unemployed people we have on our directory.

Do you work independently or in alliance with other NGOs and/or government agencies?

We work alone for now, and we are open for partnership or collaboration.

Do you think the presidential initiative, N-POWER has been effective?

I heard about the N-Power project early this year. Well, to those who have benefited, I could say it worked for them but for the many who don’t know it exists,what happens to them? The problem is, the government doesn’t work with more bodies who could help create more awareness on this project instead they use sentiments and at the end, nothing is achieved. My question would be, how many graduates have benefited from it?

What are your plans for 2018?

2018 in view: we will set up an empowerment center in about three states, tour more than 5 universities, work with donors to empower creative youth and influence the government and private organizations towards creating more jobs or granting funds for startups.

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