Young & Nigerian: Aisha Maina talks about her business, unemployment and becoming president

Aisha Maina

by Chi Ibe

What is the full scope of services in Aquarian Consult?

 Aquarian Consult is a business development consultancy firm. We partner with businesses to add value and help the businesses grow. Our services include but are not limited to: business planning, strategy formulation, HR consultancy, recruitment and training.

How did you start your business?

I started by researching and planning the business then implementing the plan. Aquarian Consult started with just a laptop and access to the internet.

How long have you run your business?

3 and a half years.

Why recruitment?

Every business needs people to run it and ensure it is sustainable. We help businesses get the right people. There are hundreds of thousands of people seeking employment or wishing to change jobs, we try to match these job seekers with the right jobs for them.

What’s the employment/unemployment landscape in Abuja?

Well, there are a lot of small businesses. In Abuja but a lot of people don’t want to work for SMEs. There are quite a number of jobs and quite a number of jobseekers in Abuja.

How many young people have you been able to secure jobs for?

We have been able to secure jobs for over 300 people so far.

What are the statistics of available jobs vis-a-vis unemployed youths?

There are many different statistics but I can’t vouch for any as I have not carried out any research personally.

There’s a school of thought that Nigerian Graduates are unemployable, what would you say to that?

We find that the larger percentage of jobseekers we come across are actually unemployable.

Can you share four reasons why Nigerian youths might be unemployable?

A lot of time is spent training us on technical skills but in today’s world, it’s not only the technical skills that make you employable, soft skills are just as important as technical skills. We also find that a lot of us (Nigerians) have a sense of entitlement. That air of importance contributes to making a person unemployable because if s/he feels that important, they would have a problem with authority.

Another factor we have seen is the message of entrepreneurship which we propagate. It’s a great message but we have to balance it with the message that to be a good leader, you MUST be a great follower. These are just a few factors in the endemic issue of unemployable Nigerians. How responsive are these graduates to skills development?

Not very responsive. Most graduates don’t think they should pay any more money to gain knowledge. They feel the training and the amount spent in school should be enough. Self-development is a continuous journey, not a race.

 What solutions would you proffer to the unemployment situation in the country? What are the challenges facing your business?

 Mostly mind-set. Most Nigerian small businesses do not think they should pay for professional services as “we can do it all ourselves.”

Do you encounter staffing issues as well?

Yes we do. We also have to pick from the pool of graduates that are in Nigeria today so we have similar issues as most small businesses, but we have a training and mentoring schedule that ensures that whoever works or leaves Aquarian Consult is not only very employable but would be a real asset to the organization.

 What challenges do you face because of location?

 We are lucky as we hardly have challenges related to our location.

 How can entrepreneurship be more conducive in Nigeria?

 There should be several initiatives to train people on business management, leadership skills and most importantly communication skills. It would also be nice if access to funds could be made a little easier.

What can Government do?

 Policies can be implemented and regulatory bodies should be instituted to ensure that these policies are continuously implemented.

If you were the president, what would you do about the state of security in the country?

Well, as I’m not the President, I don’t have all the information needed to make an informed suggestion on what actions should be carried out in regards to security.


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