Ibukun Awosika, the chairman of First Bank of Nigeria, says Nigeria can build a policy around migration, and export experts to get adequate remittances in foreign exchange.
Speaking at The Platform, held on Wednesday at Covenant Christian Centre in Iganmu, Lagos, the serial-entrepreneur said Nigeria’s population can be an asset or liability, depending on the path the nation chooses.
“How can we turn our population into an asset? We have bright minds, which is why Nigerians proffer solutions in other environments where they are nurtured,” she said.
“All we need to do is decide our population is going to be an asset. And from now, based on the goals we have identified for ourselves, we are deliberate about investing in nurturing that Youthful population to deploy what is required for that vision to be actualised.
“Nigerians are migrating, good! We are many, as we say, there are many nations that need people; so we can turn migration into a policy, we can turn our population into income-earning assets.”
She said we can train young Nigerians to suit the needs of the world and make unimaginable income from the export.
“We can be deliberate about identifying the parts of the world that needs specific skills, and because we have a lot of young minds, we can retrain them, prepare them for those skills,” she added.
“We can have government-to-government negotiations, or private sector led to work, repatriating income to several parts of Nigeria. Our people can be a source of foreign exchange for us as a nation.
“There are countries who work on models that are not different from that. When you have a lot of people and you do not have the abilities, people are not accidentally getting up to go to Canada, to go to anywhere, no!
“Let’s say our people are sought after; but to make them sought after for other nations, what must they know? What must they have? What must they do?
“How do we prepare processes that allow them to be trained? I know an African nation that is looking for 6,000 teachers.
“Nothing stops someone in that sector from building programmes or investing in finding 6,000 unemployed graduates, preparing them with teaching methodology.
“Teaching them about living in that country, telling them about how to be great ambassadors of Nigeria, wherever they go, and going to make a deal with that nation, to say we can provide you with these teachers on contract; Five year, 10 years, three years, they move.
“If you go to Dubai, most of the hotels have Kenya in the industry. Why? They were deliberate about setting up hospitality schools, to train people to be exported into countries that need manpower for hospitality.
“We know how to greet people, we know how to be hospitable, we know how to embrace people, we have the natural culture to be right in hospitality, if our people are trained as assets for that industry.
“Our population can be a liability if we do not have specific deliberate agenda for developing them.”
The latest UNFPA report estimates that Nigeria now has a population of 201 million people.
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