The Nigerian northeastern states rank below the southern states on many key socioeconomic indicators even prior to the Boko Haram insurgency. With absolute poverty rate in the northeast at 69% in 2010, being the highest in Nigeria, a State of Emergency was declared in the three Northeastern States Borno, Yobe, and the Adamawa State since May 2013, following various attacks by the armed insurgents. These States currently host majority of the internally displaced persons (IDPs). Currently Adamawa, Borno, Gombe and Yobe States host 1.3 million IDPs out of the resident population of 16 million within the region. These are mostly women and girls affected by the Boko Haram insurgency (ACAPS, 2015). This has constituted a major threat to the development of Nigeria with high socio-economic concerns and human cost due to the killings of tens of thousands of men, rape and kidnapping of girls and women (Oladayo, 2014). According to Adekola et al (2016), avoidable poverty and early marriages in the north east render women powerless, limits their educational attainment and entrepreneurship capabilities. These factors constitute a serious problem because although, women constitute an untapped reservoir of economic development in emerging economies such as Nigeria, their contributions towards national development has only been recently recognized. The type and level of education, value systems, stereotypes, specific knowledge and skills and lack of political will etc are still amongst the factors hindering women’s access to entrepreneurship education. To tackle these challenges, there is a growing need for an emergence of new kinds of jobs (Omoniyi, 2017) and so as to stimulate high levels of economic activities, job creation and self-reliance in North Eastern Nigeria and Nigeria as a whole. Secondly, most of the research focus on the South Western part of the country with little information on the plight of North Eastern women towards accessing entrepreneurship education and none of the studies has focused on post-insurgency north eastern Nigeria
The problem is that Nigeria with a population of over 183million is Africa’s most populous nation. With female population estimated at 49.5% in comparison to males being 50.5%, the nation still has the highest rate of youth unemployment. The North Eastern States in Nigeria when compared to other parts of the country are still the most educationally and economically backward since their creation by Yakubu Gowon led administration in the 1960’s. Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States are the most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. The population of the northeastern States in Nigeria is estimated at 24.5 million across Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba & Yobe states. As at June 2015, 1.5 million IDPs have been identified in the six states, with about 92% of the Internally Displaced Persons staying in host communities while about 4.6 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance and sustenance. Most of the vulnerable people in the society are women and girls.
Entrepreneurship education is a vital tool for women and youth development, and also consolidation of economic gains (Abe, 2017). It seeks to prepare and empower people to be responsible, self-reliant and economically empowered. It aims to immerse entrepreneurs in real life learning experiences where they can assume the role of an entrepreneur, take risks, innovate, learn and manage learning outcomes (Suleiman, 2010). It teaches people to create employment rather, provides security and gain self-dependability rather than seek employment (Beetseh, 2012).
Impact of entrepreneurship education on women’s empowerment
Women empowerment and entrepreneurship education is a global phenomenon and demands concerted efforts from various government agencies and the international community to reduce the scourge of poverty in many developing and undeveloped nations. It is a vital tool in the economic emancipation of women both nationally and globally. It inculcates the spirit of self-discipline, self-respect and self-reliance most especially in women in less developed and developing economies (Emeka, 2001). In north eastern Nigeria, women have for ages been relegated to the background, considered inferior to men and socio-economically marginalized. On the other hand, the men continue to dominate the social, political, and economic spheres. This is in spite of the various calls and women empowerment programs from national government and the international community for women empowerment. The few programs from the Federal Government of Nigeria such as the NDE (National Directorate of Employment); Sure-P; and NAPEP (National Poverty Eradication Program) are targeted mostly towards men while the women continue to remain financially disenfranchised.
Entrepreneurship education reduces the African Dependency Syndrome (ADS) whereby an entire household or community depend on an individual for their daily sustenance. This has created an endless circle of poverty, corruption and abuse of office as men are always under pressure to provide for the entire household while women are left in the house to cater for the children, and other members of the family. It enhances the capacity of women, stimulates economic growth both at the State and national level while reversing the ugly trend of gender discrimination nationally and globally.