One of the elements of President Goodluck Jonathan’s message in any forum to Nigerians was the expected reeling out of achievements recorded by his administration in the area of Job creation. Indeed, in keeping with his promise of creating jobs for the unemployed Nigerian youth the president will always mention the word “job creation” not less than four times in any his speech. This raises the question: Is this much touted job creation mantra really working? Ochiaka Ugwu writes
Only last week and in what seem to be season for creation of committees President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated another committee on job creation which he named “Presidential Jobs Board”. The board which is chaired by the Vice- President, Namadi Sambo has the mandate of at least creating three million jobs within the next 12 months.
Apart from facilitating employment generation across the nation, it is also expected to report its progress to Nigerians from time to time. President Jonathan also charged all training agencies to ensure that the youth get employment.
While responding on behalf of the board, Sambo promised that the board would immediately swing into action to meet the benchmark for the creation of the targeted three million jobs.
The Board which had secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim, Ministers of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke, Trade and Investment Olusegun Aganga, Labour Emeka Wogu, Agriculture Akinwumi Adeshina, Solid Minerals Musa Sada, Health Onyebuchi Chukwu, and Education, Ibrahim Shekarau, Tony Elumelu, Aliko Dangote, Atedo Peterside, Innocent Chukwuma, Chief Bisi Onosanya, Mr. Ben Petters and CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele were tasked to meet the expectations of Nigerians especially the youth in the area of job provision.
Expectedly most youth have questioned the sincerity of Mr. President’s belated Presidential Jobs Board which is coming barely six months to general election. It has been dismissed as another ploy to raise the hope of Nigerian youth into believing that jobs are being created for them, only to end up being a campaign tool which will die naturally as soon as he got the 2015 presidency. To be precise, it was not an attempt to lampoon the president just for the sake of it, or just because it is fashionable to do so. This is a dispassionate effort to assess the much popularised Job Creation Agenda on the basis of the available facts vis-à-vis the stated objectives of the initiative by which the success or failure of the Jonathan administration must necessarily be appraised for 2015 re-election.
In 2011, when Jonathan launched the transformation agenda, it was described as a summary of how the Federal Government plans to deliver projects, programmes and key priority policies from 2011 to 2015 towards job creation. In that speech Jonathan said they have diligently carried forward the purposeful and focused implementation of their agenda for national transformation in priority areas such as power, the rehabilitation and expansion of national infrastructure, agriculture development, education and employment generation.
Another key sector of the Transformation Agenda mentioned by the president in his speech is employment generation. The fact on the ground, as shown in a presentation by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at an interactive session with the private sector, is that the Federal Government created 1.6 million jobs last year. While Nigerians are now asking for the destination of these jobs, some argued that Okonjo-Iweala may as well be referring to many committees set up by the administration as the members are considered employed. What they want is a visible action plan that will absorb the many unemployed Nigerians who are seeking jobs. And, to be fair, the government is not thinking towards this line.
Jonathan unknowingly acknowledged this gimmick of job creation in one of his speeches. When he said they are keenly aware that in spite of estimated new jobs created across the country as a result of their actions and policies, more jobs are still needed to support the growing population. The economic priorities will be stability and equitable growth, building on the diverse sectors of the economy.
Nigerian youth are also exposed to the loud cries of anguish and wailing in the streets and homes where fellow citizens lived. When political analysts and pundits like Cardinal Onaiyekan, Bishop Hassan Kukah, General Muhammdu Buhari and Chief Festus Keyamo among others were crying foul and weeping loudly for the bleak future of the country, averring that this nation is soaked in corruption, nepotism, tribalism, mutual suspicion and hatred and without any plan for the succeeding generation.
The unfolding of events in recent history and the reality on ground have elicited in them an unconscious meditation of their status as Nigerian youth. It is a Nigeria where their future is now most uncertain, where the governments who promised them and taught them to believe strongly that youth are the leaders of tomorrow now give them ample reasons to strongly realize that it is a crime to be a youth in this country. It is unfortunate that this important segment of our society is totally left on its own. If they must have a future then they must design and achieve that future all by themselves no matter the means, no matter the path they tread.
It is worrisome that most of them grew up knowing that some of the politicians we still parade in our Nigerian Politics have served at different capacities as leaders in this country. Today, these men and women whom they thought should have retired, relishing the fruits of their labours while also rousing guidance to the young leaders, are still hovering around like desperate vultures over the political terrain; scheming and ready to jump in at any opportunity to occupy political offices (probably they have not amassed enough).
How can they become the leader today when these “ancestors” of theirs are still piloting jealously the affairs of the leadership they promised them yesterday to take over today? The question that keeps begging for answer is: “What ‘crime’ have they committed for being Nigerian youth?” All they see is pains, frustration and desiccations. No prospects for growth and development of the average Nigerian youth. While in school the Nigerian youth awfully suffers, upon graduation desperately rambles countless destinations searching for job that are never given and eventually dies miserably.
Anytime politicians say in apparent move to discourage youth from leaving the country as most of them will desire ‘East or West, home is the best’, I receive these words with great melancholy in my heart. It was on March, 2014 that many youths filled the streets in their thousands anxious to go through the exercise of the National Immigration Service screening. Some never came back alive. What a sad moment when the news filled the air that over fifteen lives were lost with four expectant mothers dying without any available facility for resuscitation. What a sad fate for those innocent kids in their wombs! What crime did the Nigerian youth commit?
What pauses my heart is that all of these candidates in one degree or the other really believed that they were qualified and due for the employment. Their peers in the rural areas have been reduced to hewers of firewood and permanent hunters; those unemployed in the urban centres have been reduced to foot soldiers and thugs. It is heartbreaking that politicians remember the youth when they need their dexterity for “thuggery”, political pranks and chaos, election rigging and civil unrest with empty promises that will certainly not see the light of the day.