Why are we destroying jobs, instead of creating more? - By: Vincent Nwanma | Dailytrust

Why are we destroying jobs, instead of creating more?

It is sad that many companies- small, medium, and even large ones – are going bankrupt and moribund every year. The big grammar you hear is “harsh operating environment” as the cause.

But we need to tell ourselves the truth. What is this environment that is harsh, if not the “business weather” we create for ourselves? It is an environment where every worker wants to steal directly or indirectly under the “nonsensical” culture of “workshop”, which our people term “work and chop”. They say it is where you “work” that you “chop”.

As if the very low productivity is not enough to destroy jobs and put the country’s productive base at a disadvantage on the global league, everyone wants to steal directly and indirectly. If you think the corruption in the public service is endemic, you need to be sincere in doing a forensic audit of activities in the private sector. From the gateman to the cleaner, to the accountant and the purchasing manager, and of course the CEO, there is too much rot in the system.

Even CEOs of owner-managed businesses either cut corners on taxes or ensure that other shareholders, who may be minority owners in the business, do not get a fair share of the profit. It is as if theft has become hereditary.

People praise and adore fraudsters, like the popular “Yahoo Boys”. Musicians and of course the majority of the population praise them for their wealth and do not see it as a crime. In fact, they are chieftains and lords in many communities, yet we say we don’t have jobs.

Nigerians in the diaspora are perhaps the greatest victims of this virus. Some of them are almost fed up with setting up businesses in Nigeria because they almost always end up with sad stories, a waste of hard-earned resources. It is the same thing when they want to execute projects here, such as building a house. Many have trusted family members, friends, and others to their disappointment.

Even the basic investment in real estate, where diasporans send money home to their relatives to build their country home has been messed up. Their brothers and sisters most times end up building shanties for those who send funds from abroad, diverting the funds for their own use. They end up raising their own mansions.

Consequently, Nigerians now save to buy houses abroad and make the foreign land that has accepted them their permanent homes. The bricklayers, welders, plumbers, and other artisans who would have benefited from the real estate project of diasporans now suffer lack of patronage. Since the diasporans don’t have a roof or house in Nigeria, they don’t feel the urge to come home, and truly many now retire in foreign lands, contrary to the norm of returning home for retirement and setting up a small business to keep them busy.

Many have died because they ventured to set up businesses after retirement. A man received his gratuity after retirement and invested it into fish farming. He employed a young man as a manager to help him to take care of the farm. As the catfishes received good food, which of course cost money, they grew and this attracted the interest of potential buyers.

More days passed during which the fishes received more feeding.

As the buyers assembled at the farm on the appointed day, the man received the shock of his life from which he never recovered. As he threw in feed into the first pond, there was no response! He threw into the second, the same: no response. The fishes were no longer there. As he got the same response from more ponds, it became clear to the investor that the fishes had disappeared.

Eventually, the truth came out; the farm manager had, the previous night, actually harvested the fishes and sold them, leaving empty ponds for the owner. That was the end of that business venture, and ultimately, the life of the retiree.

A diasporan releases money to build a house for his brothers at home. In this case, not for himself, just for his kith and kin at home. That has created a problem for him. The brothers at home now want to make merchandise of him. An amount in the region of N20 million is not enough to build the house, he is told. The guy is now confused.

You buy a taxi for a brother, and he begins to live large. Ask him to give an account of his activities, and he begins to tell you that taxis have stopped making money for their owners because of the activities of the Police, VIO, LASTMA, touts, and thugs, etc. He will educate you on how the taxi business has become so bad that the money should have been invested in something else.

In the same vein, if you open a poultry farm in your village and ask some people, including your relations, to manage it, you will soon learn that the birds have stopped laying eggs as you used to know. One man who opened one of such poultries soon learnt the sad lesson. Every evening, the farm manager, newly married then, would always return to the village with a basin full of eggs, covered with a piece of cloth. While he was taking his, the gateman at the farm, as well as other employees, including the cleaners, were all pilfering. Soon, the owner, who used to drive from Lagos, realised that he really had no business in the real sense of it. 

We need to learn to live within our means and know that Nigeria is a poor country and we, its people, are truly poor. To become rich and improve our standard of living for real, we need to improve our productivity and that can only come with hard work and integrity that ensure that we don’t run businesses aground when they are created.

So, as you steal from that business, under whatever name you call it and no matter how small or big it is, you are digging the grave of the business. It’s just a matter of time, the business will soon be laid to rest and if you think you are smart to have made so much money from your cruelty, it is just for the short time. You are not only destroying your life; you are also destroying those of your future generations.

For those who praise the “thieves” and grant them accolades, including acclaimed clergymen, who don’t care how congregations make money so far they pay offerings and tithes, you have no moral justification to complain of this high unemployment because you abet the fraudsters who are putting us in this crisis situation.

We are all in the mess and we can only reverse this ugly trend if we all change our course and make the sacrifices required to do the right thing. Let’s take the lead and change the country for the better. Let’s sustain the few jobs we have and create more for today and future generations!

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