The managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, says it is impossible for the government to employ everyone.

Speaking at an award ceremony organised by DAAR Communications, owners of AIT and Raypower FM, Usman said the government can only provide an enabling environment for business to thrive.

She also spoke on the need to expand the informal sector and harness the potentials in it.

“The government cannot employ all of us. What the government needs to do is to provide an enabling environment for business to thrive. To make policies and provide legal and regulatory environment on which basis industries will spring up on which basis those industries that are particular, industries that strive to employ some of our unskilled youth, because one of the important things that we need to look at is it’s not everybody that needs to have PhD; it’s not everybody that must have a post-graduate degree,; it’s not everybody that needs to have some kind of formal education,” she said.

“We need to strive and expand our informal sector; particularly our vocational industry. It is important and imperative for government to appreciate that that industry is critical and enact policies that promote that. Our creative art industry is huge, it a thriving industry. We need to have policies and regulatory environment that will enable the industry thrive.

“So constant effort must be done to recognize the music industry, our film industry. Not just the people that sing or act, there are many businesses that are in the background that support that industry. And that I believe is what we should strive to provide the appropriate legal and regulatory policy and environment that will promote that industry.

“I’d like to also look at our sports industry. Sports is huge if you look at how much revenue is being generated by the United States and the United Kingdom in sports you’ll realize that this is a sector that has not been fully tapped in Nigeria.

“And this sector that will be able to recognize and accommodate the yearnings of our youth. I would like to see state, federal and local governments harness the potential of the sport by prioritising school sports, looking at how we can harness raw talents that we have in our community and how we as corporate responsible citizens add value and support the promotion of sports within our community.”

Usman, who was appointed to head the NPA at 40, also challenged young people to think out of the box.

She said she finds it funny when people feel they are young at 40, while urging them to pull out of the illusion.

“When I was appointed managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority, I was 40 years old but there was a huge outcry by people thinking that a 40-year-old was young to head the NPA. And I found that hilarious because at 40 you are not young, at 40 you are not youths, at 40 you have reached every stage of maturity in your life, across all strata of religion, culture, legality, and every form,” she said.

“But for some reasons, the society and indeed the Nigerian youth tend to want to keep considering themselves as young. Tend to want to enjoy being in that cage… it is important for all of us to free ourselves from that narrative, free ourselves from the perception that we are young. We are not young, at 40 you are not young. I am now 42 and I don’t think I’m young.

“And it is important for us to walk away from the idea of wanting patronage; wanting to be considered as youth leader, wanting to be given opportunities being considered as a vulnerable group. You are no longer vulnerable when you can vote and drive. After 18 you need to start thinking what your future is about.”

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