Over sixty percent of Nigerian population is made up of young people below the age of 35 and governments at all levels have not taken serious cognizance of this. About eighty percent of these youths are either unemployed or under–employed and this made many observers to predict that the Nigerian Youthful Population is like a time bomb waiting to be detonated. Nigeria has the largest army of unemployed and under-employed youths in Africa. One out of every three Nigerian is either unemployed or under-employed.



With the exceptions of Electricity and Infrastructure, youth’s unemployment is the third biggest problem confronting our nation today. It is the root cause of poverty, youth restiveness, gangsterism, bank robbery, kidnapping, assassination, lawlessness and all sorts of deviant behaviours. Among these bands of unemployed youths are over Three million young boys and girls with NYSC discharge certificates roaming about the nooks and crannies of the country searching for jobs that do not exist. Our tertiary institutions dump over 200,000 graduates into the job market every year thereby exacerbating the situation.


Youth’s unemployment has maligned our families and debased our educational system. Parents are frustrated and traumatized at seeing their sons and daughters turn into crimes and prostitution because of unemployment. The younger ones are discouraged from being serious with their studies because their seniors who have been to school are jobless and frustrated.


Foreign embassies are jammed with Nigerian youths seeking for visas to get out of the country because of the scourges of unemployment. Jails in Libya, Italy, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Indonesia etc are teeming with Nigerian youths who are incarcerated for one crime or the other. Our friends have almost neglected us and foreign nations spite us because of the escapades of our youths in their countries. We can change all these if we have a people–centered government.




Nigerian youthful population should be a formidable advantage to the economy if well harnessed. In addition to constituting a dynamic workforce to produce goods and services for the nation, they should also make-up the entrepreneurial class to drive the economy. We should encourage them by creating the right environment to enable them turn their imaginations into creation of new products and improvement of existing ones.


People like Mack Zuckerberg of the “Facebook” fame and “Google” founders: Sergey Brin and Larry Page are all billionaires and within the ages of 26 and 36. Our youths can perform such feats if given the right encouragement and atmosphere to explore their talents through hard work and creativity. Youths are painful assets to waste. A nation that toys with her youths is toying with her destiny because they are the super–structures on which the nation is built


We should formulate strategies and build institutions that will create opportunities to engage our youths in meaningful enterprises and to discourage them from criminal activities and purposeless traveling. The nation must see youth’s unemployment as a monster that is debilitating our collective being. Instead of amassing military arsenal on kidnappers and bank robbers, we should fight their root-cause which is youth unemployment. The youths of a nation are the trustees of its posterity and the last line of defense in times of wars and emergencies. They are an indispensable human capital that should be nurtured and preserved for national well-being and development.




Different countries have tackled their unemployment problems with different strategies and methods. China has used the massive manufacturing and export approach while India is using the Service Industry to meaningfully engage her massive population. China and India belong to the BRIC countries which are characterized by large population and strong emerging economies.




Nigeria should use Agriculture to tackle her unemployment problems. We have 910,768 km2 of arable land, 13,000 km2 of water and 21 agricultural research institutes. We have good weather with abundant rainfall and sunshine all the year round. We have large and healthy population of which about 60 percent is made up of youths under 35 years of age. The land is fertile and has different ecological zones to grow different types of plants.


Agriculture has always been our highest employer of labour and has contributed meaningfully to our GDP. If we mechanize our agriculture, we will produce more food for our country, more raw materials for our industries and we can also engage more people and cultivate more hectares.


In choosing the plant(s) to be cultivated, adequate consideration should be given to the ones we have comparative advantages on and those with shorter gestation periods. We should also consider those with positive impacts on our food security and whose by – products would support and encourage down–stream small scale industries.




Massive cultivation and processing of cassava tubers into food and raw materials will positively engage our unemployed youths and provide meaningful livelihood opportunities for them.


Why Cassava: Cultivation, processing and export of cassava products have become very lucrative since the advent of global warming and production of ethanol. The world is clamouring for renewable energy that is clean and can be derived from renewable sources such as agricultural products, wastes, sun, wind etc. Cassava products are sort-after all over the world for the production of ethanol which is preferred over fossil fuels because it does not emit carbon dioxide which is the major cause of global warming.


Nigeria is the World Largest Producer of Cassava: We produce over 41 million metric tones per annum and we are followed by Brazil, Thailand, Zaire (Now Democratic Republic of Congo) and Indonesia. Cassava is produced all over the country but more abundantly in all the Southern and the Middle Belt States of the country.


Global Demand for Nigerian Cassava Products: The world looks up to Nigeria for her cassava needs because we are the largest producers in the world. Unfortunately, we can not help them because we consume over 30.7 million tons of our out put as food and also our cassava products are more expensive than those of other countries. There is too much pressure on our cassava because it is used as food, raw materials and for export. One metric ton of our cassava chips is sold for $250 while the same from Thailand or Vietnam goes for $190.




To create massive employment for our youths and to increase our cassava production so as to meet the global demand at competitive prices, we should establish four cassava plantations of 600,000 hectares each in the North Central, South East, South West and South-South geopolitical zones. These are the zones where cassava grows abundantly.


A total of 2.4 million hectares shall be cultivated and each unemployed youth shall be allocated 25 hectares. About 96,000 qualified youths shall be employed as farm owners and another 288,000 as farm assistants. Farm inputs and support services shall be provided by the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, Umuahia (NRCRI); International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan; and Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Lagos. New and improved varieties of cassava with short gestation periods and resistant to the endemic cassava diseases will be used. At a conservative yield of 20 tons per hectare, we estimate to produce about 48 million tons per annum thereby doubling our national production to almost 90 million tons per annum.


At this level of output, the price of our cassava tubers will come down and also the by-products like garri, fufu, chips, etc. We will then become competitive in the global market and can easily meet the global demand on our cassava. We will have enough for food, raw materials and export.




The major downstream small scale industries we recommend are: garri, chips and natural ethanol.  They are cost effective with good returns on investment and have very large markets that are unsatisfied.


Garri: It is the commonest staple food in Nigeria consumed by over 130 million people.  We consume about 7.7 million metric tons of garri per year and it comes to about 30.7 million tons of our cassava production.  Our actual demand for garri is about 12 million tons but we are unable to meet it because of the pressure on cassava and because of the stress and drudgery involved in the traditional production.  Garri is produced in the rural areas by local women who are steadily giving up the trade because of the stress and drudgery involved.


Modern Garri Processing Plant made of stainless steel is now produced in the country and it comprises of: Hammer Mill of 15 HP, Fermentation Racks, Granulator with 7.5 HP Motor and the Frying Pot with 2 HP electric gear motor.  The pot is insulated with fiber glass and can be fired with gas, charcoal, firewood, palm kernel shelves, etc.  The garri has low moisture and sand contents and can be exported.  The shelf life is over one year.


Over 1000 of these plants shall be installed in the 23 states of the cassava growing areas to create over 400,000 jobs in the garri sector.  The jobs shall be created through the supply of cassava tubers, transportation, distribution, sales and various other ancillary activities.


Production of Chips:  Cassava chips are in very high demand for the production of ethanol which is preferred over fossil fuels because it does not emit carbon dioxide which is the major cause of global warming.  It is safe, nontoxic, water soluble and biodegradable.  It contains 35 percent oxygen and the use of 10 percent ethanol blend reduces greenhouse gas emission by 18-29 percent over conventional fuels.  In 2006, ethanol use in the USA reduced auto-emission equivalent to removing 1.21 million cars from the roads.  The commonest blend of ethanol that is in use is 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline. It is generally referred to as E10 and most PMS used globally are now E10.


Nigerians receive over 10,000 enquiries daily for the supply of Cassava Chips from China, India, South Korea, Belgium, Netherlands, USA, etc.  Over 80 percent of these enquiries hardly mature into concrete deals because of our high cost of cassava.  Thailand and Vietnam sell $170 – $190 per metric ton.  Once we double our output to 90 million tons, our prices will come down drastically.  Vietnam is planting 650,000 hectares of cassava this year, Thailand about 700,000 hectares and Ghana, our ECOWAS neigbour, about 550,000 hectares.


Cassava Chipping machine of 1 ton per hour with the drying facilities all made of stainless steel is produced locally.  We estimate that over 2,000 of these plants will be installed to convert the cassava tubers into chips.  About 300,000 jobs will be created in the industry because of its robust nature and the far-reaching implications of its various dimensions.  It involves packaging, transportation, warehousing, shipping etc.


Sometime last year, a Nigerian company got a contract to supply European company 34,000 metric tons of unpeeled chips per month for five years.  The European company had obtained the rights and the technology to build in France, Netherlands and Belgium production plants for the combined production of bio-ethanol, green electricity, heat and advanced vegetable bio-fertilizer.  The contract finally failed because the company insisted on paying 85 Euros per metric ton instead of the $196 the Nigerian company offered.  When we expand our cassava output, as recommended, prices will come down and contracts like this will be accommodated thereby creating more opportunities for our youths.  Our cassava is in high demand because of the high starch content and high viscosity.


Production of Ethanol:  There are two types of ethanol: denatured ethanol and hydrous or natural ethanol.  Denatured is the one used in blending Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to E10, E20, etc.  The production is capital intensive.


Natural Ethanol: It is the ethanol used as industrial raw materials in the production of alcoholic beverages, cosmetics, performs, medicaments, drinks and other industrial applications.  We consume about 20 million litres of the product annually and it is not locally produced despite the abundance of the raw material, cassava. Production of alcoholic beverages like Schnapps, whisky, Brandy, Rum, etc has proliferated because of the imported natural ethanol.


The machinery for the production is locally available and we estimate that about 500 plants shall be established to create over 200,000 jobs. Ethanol is versatile and is used extensively in producing multiple products.  Its propensity for job creation is enormous.  Different brands of cosmetics, perfumes, alcoholic drinks, etc, shall be produced by our youths.  The marketing, sales and advertisement of these products will challenge the creativity and the imaginations of our youths to come up with new concepts and strategies.



A total of 1.284 million jobs will be created from the cassava sector; about 96,000 from mechanical cultivation and 288,000 as farm assistants.  Each of the 96,000 farm owners shall have 3 assistants.


The Garri Sector: The sector shall create 400,000 jobs across the country.  This will include the suppliers of the tubers, transporters, Garri producers, suppliers, sellers, exporters, etc.  Garri is consumed by over 130 million people and it is the major staple food in the country.  Africans in Diaspora love “eba”.


Cassava Chips:  The chips business shall create about 300,000 jobs. Chips are predominantly used for production of ethanol but the traditional application is production of animal feeds.  Most European and Japanese farmers switched to cassava chips when corn became too expensive.  Chips are exported to China, South Korea, Europe, etc.


Natural Ethanol: The Ethanol sector is highly diversified with enormous applications.  Their upstream and downstream axes have prospects for numerous jobs but we project 200,000 jobs during the first year.


If just one sector of agriculture can create these much jobs, it goes to show that Agriculture may be the panacea we are looking for to solve our endemic youth’s unemployment problem.




The body to manage the framework we have outlined shall be known as the Youths Employment Commission (YEC) and it will consist of 10 members: six from the six geopolitical zones, two from the Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike and IITA, Ibadan; one official from the Federal Ministry of Finance and a Consultant.  Three of the six members from the geopolitical zones must be youths from 30 – 35 years.

The Commission shall formulate the structures, strategies and mechanisms for eventuating the project according to the recommended guidelines. The commission shall be under the Presidency and members must be people of honour, integrity and probity; people who are committed to national development and youth empowerment.



There shall be a Special Intervention Fund from the federal government to be known as Youth Employment Intervention Fund (YEIF) and it shall be derived from the Excess Crude Account or the Sovereign Wealth Fund which is being proposed. The subvention from this fund should come annually directly from the Presidency and shall cover all aspects of the commission’s activities as indicated.




Youth’s unemployment has become a national albatross and should be handled with urgency and the emergency it deserves. Youths are leaders of today and tomorrow and we should not allow them to dissolve into oblivion because of our lack of national priorities. We must solve it before it swallows us.


We have formulated intervention funds for our Banks, the Aviation Industry, and the Small Scale Industry etc. What of our Youths? Development must be people centered and must have a human face. Kidnappers have now descended on school children, may be pregnant mothers will be next. Who knows whose turn it will be next?