VOICE OF LIBERTY AFRICA: The Nexus Between Job Creation and Wealth Creation by ‘Lanre OLAGUNJU


Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan answered unemployment questions triggered at him during the 4th presidential media chat, weeks back saying“We are working very hard. You cannot get jobs overnight; we are coming up with programs like #SURE #YOUWIN to develop people…. I never promised to reduce poverty. I promised to create wealth.” and that sincerely got me thinking of the relationship between poverty alleviation, job creation and wealth creation. There’s a wide contrast that exists between creating jobs and creating wealth. Though, up until now, I still haven’t been able to fix the possibility of sincerely creating wealth and not reducing poverty in the long-run. 


It’s so common to evaluate government policies in terms of the jobs they create. This is evidently substantiated when Presidents, past or present boastfully point out to the number of jobs their administration successfully created. Recently, Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo bragged about how the rate of youth unemployment in 1999 when he assumed office was at 72 percent and how his administration dragged it down to 52 percent in 2004. Obasanjo didn’t stop at that, he also lamented on how President Jonathan’s administration ensured it skyrocketed back to 71 percent as at 2011.


Creating jobs is very important to the success of any economy, and that explains the emphasis politicians lay on job creation and how they theoretically make us believe that the more jobs created, the more successful their administration. But we should be reminded that the most important thing that actually propagates economic prosperity is wealth creation, and job creation is basically just a means to that end. When we fasten this basic fact to mind, it helps us to ask politicians the right questions. It also serves as a safeguard from being easily tussled and fooled by the seemingly plausible but myopic argument that places creation of jobs on a higher pedestrian over the ideal concept of creating wealth.


In order to bring down the high double digits of unemployment which plagued the United States in the 1930s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1940, signed the Selective Service Act, which ordered males between the age of 21 and 35 to register for military service.Out of the 16 million people who served in the armed forces at that time during the war, 10 million were drafted into the military. Obviously we all know that war doesn’t create wealth. It does otherwise! But it could actually create employment.


From this angle, it becomes easier to realize that creating jobs isn’t the problem because the truth is there’d always be avenues to create jobs if government truly wants to. Then you just might want to ask, that what then is the problem? Creating wealth is and should be the problem. With the intention of creating wealth, the problem of creating jobs in which people create value gets settled.


Government can keep creating jobs from several possible means be it by; building roads or pyramids, responding to flood or earthquakes, sweeping the highways, hurricane amongst others.  But much more attention should be paid to creating wealth though government policies and business practices that encourage innovation, free enterprise, and the formation of skilled human capital. The private sector still remains the bedrock of wealth creation.And it is quite brilliant to see how President Barack Obama created 5.2 million new private-sector jobs over the last 31 months.  But it is awe-inspiring to see him create nearly a quarter of a million jobs since June 2009by strengthening and recovering the American auto industry from total collapse. This is evident in the fact that Chrysler and General Motors are now healthier than they have ever been before. His is not exactly a laudable solution as public funds were used but unlike Nigeria they at least got results.


The Nigerian government and other African Nations need to empower the private sector which in-turn will empower both the economy and the people, essentially because when businesses prosper, employment expands and communities thrive. The private sector is more known for creating well valued employment with high paying salary. Moreover, more value is created in higher paying jobs than the jobs provided by the State. In September, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina, sneered at public sector jobs at a convention in Tampain by saying. “I think sometimes liberals actually believe that public-sector jobs are the same as private-sector jobs. They are not,” she said. And if probably you think that’s a comment from a stereotypist, all you need is an encounter at any government agency with underworked employees, workers whose job routinely features prolonged sick leave, extended vacations and shorter work days. You might need to see them demand bribe for doing things they are literally been paid for. And I sincerely don’t mean to be unfair to some few government employees who frequently and diligently work off the clock.


‘Lanre Olagunju is a regular contributor to the Voice of Liberty Africa Project and also a prize winner with African Liberty. 

Lanre sees a better path to wealth creation for Africa