By Gidado Yushau Shuaib
As an undergraduate, I am apprehensive of tomorrow. After graduation would one get a job or die while searching for one? As many have lately observed, we are now sitting on a time bomb with millions unemployed. A 2012 survey by the National Bureau of Statistics put Nigeria’s youth unemployment figure at 54 percent. This means one out of every two young people who should be gainfully employed is unemployed.
That is frustrating and scary. Imagine over 693,000 applicants all over the nation chasing 4,500 jobs in the Nigeria Immigration Service, out of which number 19 died during the job at test and hundreds fainted from stampede and exhaustion. They came looking for jobs, in a country that has mastered the art of hoarding jobs. They found death instead of the jobs. Many horrible pictures and videos from the incidents across the federation went viral online. There is, therefore, a lot of condemnation over the exercise.
There are many questions demanding answers: How will the families of the victims be compensated? What is the future of our unemployed youths? What is government doing to address unemployment in the country? Government needs to recognize the plight of unemployed graduates and not waste time and money on issues that are not important to the development of this country.
We are not unmindful of the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan has rolled out a number of programmes to tackle unemployment like YouWin and the SURE-P Scheme among others which are yet to provide the necessary infrastructure for their tenability. There is also a Nigerian Youth Employment Action Plan (NIYEAP) which was launched under President Umaru Yar’adua in 2009 but is stillborn. The efforts have been negligible compared to the scale of the problems on the ground. Of course the federal government should not take all the blame for unemployment woes. The states and local governments must also take responsibilities on job creation.
Governments at all levels should evolve a programme or a system that could be called YOUTHFUND where it can provide grants or soft loans as capital to youth to start up their own enterprises. With such gestures the beneficiaries would be able to fend for themselves and reduce the rate of crime and other menace caused by idleness of the unemployed youths. There is no big deal working with government as there are innovative schemes which youths could benefit from and become independent and render services to the society at large.
The youth should also take advantage of acquisition skills provided by the government to be self employed and contribute meaningfully to various sectors of the economy. The unemployed graduates shouldn’t be over ambitious in the sense of wanting to make it ‘big time’ but they could start from any small-scale business to fend for themselves.
By the way what is wrong in farming or driving a cab and even street cleaning for legitimate income. For sure, such jobs which some may considered odds are far better than robbery, prostitutions and criminal activities. Meanwhile, considering the condemnations trailing the immigration recruitment exercise which resulted in the death and injury of some of the applicants, government should provide compensation for the families of the victims as well as reschedule the repeat of the exercise that could be easily done online.
Gidado Yushau Shuaib is at Baze University, Abuja (email@example.com)