Unemployment is now one of the greatest problems facing the country. Ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) are saturated, yet almost a million jobseekers emerge each year. This hydra-headed problem can only be tackled through policies that enable young people to create jobs for themselves. One agency that was created to do just that is the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).
Though SMEDAN was established to trigger economic development and facilitate industrial development, it has had its own limitations. Only recently, the director-general of the agency, Alhaji Muhammad Nadada Umar, reiterated the need for synergy among agencies established to deliver economic benefits to the people. Having such synergy among agencies with related mandates will allow for institutionalisation and therefore sustainability of policies, he said.
Given the large population of Nigeria, the number of people unemployed and those living in poverty at this time, it is only necessary that bodies with similar missions should work together. SMEDAN, for instance, could work with the National Directorate of Employment (NDE). It could also work with key ministries that are crucial to economic growth: the Ministry of Agriculture and its agencies such as the Bank of Agriculture, the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, and the Ministry of Education. They should work towards the attainment of a common goal for the benefit of the people and the development of the country. When related bodies come together, their collective strengths would be enhanced while weaknesses would be tackled with team spirit. Harmonisation of their goals will also allow for development of institutions that will enable us to have strong and viable delivery vehicles for our economic policies.
The cooperation of all the power companies or offshoots of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) with all agencies involved in job creation is sorely needed. Indeed, provision of electric power is imperative for ending the unemployment scourge. Power should not only be adequate but regular. Small, medium and large enterprises cannot make profits by running on generators. Nigerians are enterprising people and can easily create jobs for themselves so long as there is sufficient infrastructure to spur them on.
One of the factors that create barriers to sustainability of policies is the quest for supremacy among the MDAs. But the agencies need not jostle for space in an environment large enough to accommodate all of them with all their ideas and ambitions. It appears strange that almost all MDAs associate with international agencies in one way or the other but find it difficult to seek such cooperation at home. It is time to look inwards. SMEDAN's collaboration with an international development agency like GIZ, in an effort to develop database for SMEs, is a right step in the right direction. Cooperation is better than competition.