Enough of lies on youth unemployment

ngozi-okonjo-iweala-11Upon claims by Minister of Finance and coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala that Federal Government’s initiatives, such as the Subsidy Re-Investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), the Youths Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWiN) and others, have created much jobs for the teeming youth, unemployment problem persists. If steps are not taken to urgently tackle the monster, it may pose grave danger to the country, Ochiaka Ugwu writes.

In Nigeria, accurate unemployment rates are difficult to access. However, statistics from the Manpower Board and the Federal Bureau of Statistics shows that Nigeria has a youth population of 80 million, representing 60% of the total population of the country. Also, 64 million of them are unemployed, while 1.6 million are under-employed.

It also shows that the largest group of the unemployed is the secondary school graduates. Also, 40% of the unemployment rate is among urban youth aged 20 – 24 and 31% of the rate is among those aged 15-19. Also, two- thirds of the urban unemployed are ranged from 15-24 years old. Moreover, the educated unemployed tended to be young males with few dependents. There are relatively few secondary school graduates and the lowered job expectations of primary-school graduates.

Although, Nigeria is endowed with diverse and infinite resources, both human and material, but years of negligence and adverse policies have led to the under-utilization of these resources. These resources have not been effectively utilized in order to yield maximum economic benefits. It has been blamed as one of the primary causes of unemployment and poverty in Nigeria. As per the report of the World Bank, the GDP at purchasing power parity of Nigeria was $170.7 billion during 2013.

However, unemployment in Nigeria is one of the most critical problems the country is facing. Government poor attitude, corruption, civil strife, and mismanagement have hindered economic growth of the country. It is a major problem both economically and socially and the present government seems not to care. It has resulted in more and more people not having purchasing power. Less consumption has led to lower production and economic growth has been hampered. Unemployment also has social consequences as it increases the rate of crime. The spiraling youth unemployment has been a significant contributor to the dramatic rise in social unrest and crime e.g. Niger Delta militancy, Boko Haram, Jos Crisis, kidnapping in the South etc.

Experts have said that if young Nigerians were provided with employment opportunities, they can become productive assets and take their part in mainstream society offering the best of their skills and talents.

Continuing, they concurred that Economic growth is not the only solution to curb unemployment in Nigeria, as the official statistics illustrate that previously unemployment did not always decline with the economic growth. Other solutions such as the provision of right skills to the people to help them tackle the problems and lead a more prosperous life should also be given importance which the government of the day is not doing.

Moreover, it has become a phenomenon and may continue with deeper consequences given the fact that the youth are potential parents of the future. Striking statistics is continuously showing signs of no good turn ahead.

Practically, there could be a turning point, if in the case of Nigeria; there is appropriate harnessing of the vast resources we have got presently by the present administration. If nothing is done to cater for sustainable employment and favourable economic conditions, considering Nigeria’s current demography and the projected 200 million people in 2050; then the most populous African country would have faced undesired and dark days.

In a country where accurate figures are hard to come by, it is feared that the youth unemployment rate in Nigeria is far more than what is published.

According to industry watchers, over 60 per cent of young people are either unemployed, working but in low quality, irregular, low wage jobs, often in the informal sectors of the economy, or not in the labour force.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned that the rising youth unemployment is undermining the country’s stability.

Its President, Mr. Abdulwahed Omar, called for a decisive intervention to tackle the problem. He warned that if left unchecked, the unemployment crisis could undermine peace and security.

Omar said: “Official statistics put the national unemployment rate at approximately 24 per cent, about 35 per cent works but in low quality, irregular, low wage jobs, often in the informal economy. As high as this rate is, it, nevertheless, camouflages the enormity of the unemployment crisis in the country. If unemployment and disguised unemployment were to be added to the figure, the crisis will become more glaring.

“With an estimated 80 million youths in the population, between 30 and 40 million unemployed youths constitute a veritable army of the hungry, disillusioned and angry. This set of people can undermine the stability, security and peace of any nation if left unattended to. There is an urgent need for decisive intervention to rein in the unemployment problem. The signal of strife and insecurity today are warning banners we cannot afford to ignore.”

Consequently, it is bent on the leadership of this great country to start acting and think beyond the present. To cut unemployment, there must be stabilization of basic amenities, clean water, energy, functional healthcare and educational systems. We have seen various cottage industries started by individuals that have failed to survive; the failure basically linked to high operating cost caused by energy/power.

Commentators on nation’s economy were of the view that youth unemployment is solvable, but needs total commitment from the government. They agreed it can be a thing of little concern and can be overturned and overcame. As much as the youths are bittered and battered by the devastating demographics plaguing our country, the bulk of the problem lies in the ability of our government and leadership to provide an enabling environment where creativity and innovation is birthed, nurtured, grown and expanded with a sincere motive and drive towards economic and people development. On the other hand, organizations like National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and other organizations in the business of job creation should without fainting keep the grassroots and community enlightenment, empowerment quest that though may be little considering the youth population of the country but goes a long way to effecting change in people’s lives. To the youths, do not give up, do not stop pressing forward, do not stop innovating, do not give up searching for possible way out of the present quagmire PDP led government has put us.

For those youth who think that the much publicized sure-P will empower and provide jobs for them, they should have a rethink because the programme was an intention to deceive. It was to ensure that few Nigerians became millionaires at your own expense. It is only your decision to do away with the rotten system that could give you the desired breakthrough.

Nigerian youths have long been forced to live in the dark by these slave masters disguised as leaders and mentors who have nothing to offer. It is time to break from the shackles of deprivation by giving up yourself in firm pursuit of “change for a good tomorrow.” We can’t ask for a better tomorrow, because today is bad. It is when you achieve good, that you strive for better.

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