Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has said he is uncomfortable with the current high rate of unemployment in the country.
The Nigerian billionaire, who responded to a question from a woman entrepreneur in a team of business executives from Lagos Business School (LBS), who visited his multi-billion dollars refinery and petrochemical projects in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, on Saturday, said the problem is giving him sleepless nights.
He said: “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 businessman said the nation’s growing population should have been a blessing if the youth energy is harnessed to drive growth, but regretted that poverty increases with the population.
He added: “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 said it is not the duty of government to create jobs, stressing that creation of enabling environment for entrepreneurs to thrive should be the focus of any government.
He said developed economies were not created by the government, but private sector which acts as drivers of growth and development.
He linked insurgency and militancy to unemployment, saying criminality would fester in a society where government does not encourage entrepreneurs to create jobs.
The billionaire said joblessness was the reason for the recent quit notice issued by Arewa youths to Igbo traders in the North.
“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,” Dangote told the visiting team.
He said the refinery project would create thousands of direct jobs for the youths, while millions of indirect jobs would be generated in the value chain.
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