BY Bassey Willie
Hearing some young men in Yenagoa and other communities in Bayelsa State shouting ‘iron condemn’ may leave any one in doubt about the usefulness of the pieces of household items being disposed on daily basis as trash in waste bins and dump sites nationwide.
But here in Bayelsa State, these ubiquitous youths with irrepressible zeal to transform waste to wealth do not only pick the scraps, but also source for them from sellers in order to fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams.
The most interesting thing about this is that at the moment where many youths complain about unemployment in the country, over 1,000 youths from different parts of the country are eking out a living from this unattractive but lucrative business in Bayelsa State.
A major dealer on scraps in Bayelsa State, Mr. Elem Vincent, popularly known by his business name as ‘Odoku’ told our reporter that currently, his company, ‘Global Nigeria Limited’ has employed over 20 youths and he is training more in the business. Vincent, said he served his master who was into the scrap business in Imo state for 9 years, after the internship, he was settled with N70,000 in 1996, and that was what he used to start the business then. He urged government to establish industries in the country, because the raw materials generated from scraps could be used in producing several goods for end users.
Narrating his little beginning, Vincent said: “I started as a ‘Core boy’ in Igbo language, meaning people that pick scraps and served one man in Imo State for 9 years before becoming a scrap entrepreneur today. “I can boast of many things in life through this business, I can use it to help myself and my family, I have employed more than 20 youths and paying them.
That is why I always advice youths, instead of hanging around and become thieves or cult boys, come join us, let us train them on how to make money through scraps, everybody must not go to school or work in government offices, many people do not have the opportunity, but if our youths can bend down, use their talents and initiatives, I believe unemployment will be a forgotten issue in this country. “I also advise Nigerian youths not to be idle, like what President Mohammedu Buhari said sometimes ago, that our youths are lazy, with the rate of unemployment in Nigeria, youths should think on how to learn skills, because in most cases, after NYSC, no jobs, graduates are doing menial jobs, some are driving tricycle”, he added.
Another scrap dealer, Alhaji Shehu Yola, said they liked the business and it’s helping them meet the needs of their families, adding a lot of young people are earning a living through it. He said though, many people consider it as dirty work, but it help them to be self-reliance and takes youths out of the streets.
Yola, who is the Secretary of Scraps Dealers Association, Bayelsa State chapter, disclosed that over 1000 youths in the state are earning living through the business. He said: “We have boys that work for us, we always send them out to fetch these scraps for us, we will give them money to buy them, when they bring it, we will now sort them out, gather them, processed them and then send to our contacts in China for industrial use.
“Our main challenge in the business here in Bayelsa State is that as non-indigenes, we cannot enter river, it’s only few indigenes among us that can enter river, also the issue of security exploitation is also major concern to us, you know we do dirty job, and everybody will want to take advantage of that”, he said.
A dealer, Mr Franklin Nomi, who is also involved in training others for the business, said that he was satisfied doing the job, because it is helping him to meet his family’s needs. He said though he started it with a little amount, but he is growing in the business and his goal is to become a major entrepreneur in the country.
Another young dealer, Jamilu Abdullahi said though he likes the business, but some people’s perception about them that they are thieves, especially when they go out to buy the scraps, remained disturbing. “We urged the public to know that we are not thieves, we do not steal those scraps, we buy them from the people, but bad boys with intention to loot us will always come with accusation, it is better for us to use our hands to work instead of stealing. “Security agencies should help us, we are doing our business, everybody must not work in the offices, we have found our own vocation, we should not be molested while doing it”, Abdullahi pleaded.