The End SARS protest didn’t only tell the world about how youths were brutalized by the Nigerian Police Force, it also showed the level of hope the average Nigerian Youth have about the Nigerian system. Thousands of Youth gathered all over the world in solidarity asking for better treatment from its leaders. Protesters were not just idle fellows being influenced by political agendas but were mainly made up of entrepreneurs, creatives, entertainers and various technocrats who have become frustrated by the living standards in Nigeria.
During the protest, the Federal Government came up with a list of empowerment programmes the youth could benefit from, promising Nigerians of better days to come. Schemes like N-Power, N-tech, N-Agro and others have been set up to provide funds, training and an enabling environment for individual sustenance and business growth. The N-Agro is a platform under the N-Power programme where volunteers will provide advisory services to farmers across the country. Likewise the N-Tech, volunteers would be equipped and trained on technical knowledge needed to boost the device servicing and manufacturing industry.
Though the empowerment programmes are opportunities for youth empowerment; the Nigeria’s macroeconomic challenges still make it difficult for these programmes to serve as a development strategy for economic growth. High inflation, a devalued currency and closure of the nation’s borders are some of the recent challenges facing small and medium scale enterprises in Nigeria.
The business environment is not enabling enough to propel SME’s from their seed stage to growth where most businesses who benefit from various empowerment programmes die within its five years of existence.
The Federal government at various times has agitated the public by advising its youth in going back to the farm. Critics find it a waste of human resources if the government keeps advising its young ones on how lucrative farming is. There is no element of doubt about this but the various programmes set up by FG shows the government still prioritises other sectors over agriculture. Out of the 25 programmes listed by the FG, only N-AGRO, Farmers Moni, Market Moni, National Young Farmers Scheme were strictly provided for agricultural enterprises.
Some of these programmes are to provide technical training and funds, but the key issue lies in improving the welfare of its citizens. With rising inflation for the past 12 months and the economy in recession, these empowerment programmes won’t bring out the result expected.