Revisiting worsening youth unemployment

By Ochiaka Ugwu

The excruciating pain and plight of unemployed youth in Nigeria has become an issue for great concern as most youth are regretting being born in this part of the world. Even those who are lucky to secure some kind of employment are not left out in the lamentation saying that high unemployment rate has succeeded in hiding many of the realities faced by those in work.

Based on this prevailing reality, a Nigeria youth who can no longer understand President Goodluck Jonathan’s “Job creation Mantra” which is only evident in the pages of newspaper, television screen and memory of those who want him to stage a comeback whether in the interest of Nigerians or not, went beseech to show his frustration in the system. Mr. Sunday Omotayo, an unemployed Mechanical Engineering graduate of the Ekiti State University, did the unthinkable recently when he walked up to some prison wardens and demanded they either kill him or have him imprisoned forever. It was because citizen Omotayo knew very well that there are some privileges he would get in the prison that are unavailable to him as an unemployed youth. You can imagine people preferring prison to freedom. Indeed, it is becoming unbecoming; this government has failed woefully in all ramifications.

This singular action shows that most prisoners are happier than most unemployed graduates; perhaps this was why the gentleman acted in that way. As matter of fact only few Nigerian prisoners have a single reason to envy the unemployed graduates in the streets today.

Omotayo is just one of the millions who are caught up in this youth unemployment quagmire. Most youth today are lying quite helpless in the valley of fear tomorrow and unknown. The fact is that the situation has become worse to the extent that most jobless graduates cannot afford a pencil and a paper even to use in writing application for the nonexistent jobs, let alone of having the money to surf the net which is the most popular way of securing unemployment.

The jobs crisis facing the Nigerian’s young people shows no sign of abating. The evidence suggests that queues for jobs are growing longer and some are getting so frustrated at their employment prospects they have taken to the streets to protest like Omotayo did.

It makes one to ask what crime have Nigerian youth committed to deserve this kind dehumanization. Our political leaders have impoverished the youth so heavily that they are unwittingly conditioned to always remain at their beck and call. They are never empowered except with arms as either Boko Haram or MEND. 2015 election is at the corner, tugs are waiting to be hired and youth will be the only option. That is why it is held that incessant rate of violence in the country today is partly due to the arms that our politicians gave out to youths during previous elections for personal aggrandisement. These arms were never properly retrieved and today we are partaking in the national elegy for the hydra-headed brutality looming everywhere.

Upon the job creation mantra song by sympathizers of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), it is quite visible to the blind and audible to the dumb that unemployment rate in Nigeria is frightening. They go to bed in frustration and wake up in hopelessness.

To do your own experiment, just place a small advert on the wall and you will be fascinated by the crowd that will grace the interview. Even if is for few positions and no matter how degrading the job may be you will see that the number of applicants that will turn up for the test will be too much. The government should begin to build or renovate all the dead industries to provide job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths in the country.

Most youth who boldly walked into the Nigerian “Labour Market” after graduation to search for good jobs that will help them develop self, build skills and professional career in their various fields of endeavour. They went into the market with certainty that their hard work and academic success will help them to excel in every aptitude test and interview that they will encounter. Most of them have virtually relocated to cybercafé applying for jobs day and night without success.

They have to print large copies of their Curriculum Vitae (CV) and hopefully send them out to organizations, where they believe job opportunities exist. They have to wait for text messages; wait for mails; wait for calls; and even wait for whispers. They have to wait, and wait and keep waiting. Most of them have waited for days, for weeks, for months and even for years; yet they are still waiting. Some have died waiting, some turned to lunatics, because they now read every handbill and bill board they see, thinking they are job adverts.

Apart from the pain they experience waiting for jobs and job opportunities, they are also gradually losing their dignity in the eyes of the society. They have become ‘failures’ in the sight of those who cannot read nor write even with the help of a teacher. Those who envied them when they were still schooling, have started to mock them. The irony of it all is that they have condemned pipeline vandals, internet fraudsters, snatchers of ballot boxes, thugs and prostitutes. But today, these people are buildings houses, riding cars and being patronised by political officeholders; yet many have decided to be good citizens. Does it now pay to be a law breaker or should everyone join the trend? When they granted amnesty to Niger Delta militants, a group came up under the auspices of “Non violent militants” asking for the amnesty deal to be extended to them but their plea met a brick wall as they were never taken seriously simple because they don’t have arms.

However, there is also a growing level of security challenges facing the country, which calls for serious concern. The rising level of unemployment in the country can also be attributed for the increase in security challenges in the country. Many school leavers and employable adults are unable to secure jobs and the government is unable to act fast enough in finding a solution to this problem. Experts have argued that the high rate of unemployment in the country is directly responsible for the increasing security challenges in Nigeria. For sustainable development to be achieved, the government must urgently address the unemployment crisis facing the country so as to be able to adequately tackle its security challenges. Employment experts have suggested various measures the Nigerian government can put in place to arrest this situation.

Studies have demonstrated that economic growth is critical to poverty reduction. The pace of economic growth is important. But the structure of growth is equally important; some would argue that it is even more important. Economic growth must be broad-based and inclusive for it is to result in improved welfare.

A consequence of lopsided, non-broad based economic growth, and lack of sound economic management, is the problem of unemployment. Unemployment has become an endemic and almost permanent feature of the Nigerian economy. It was estimated that an annual average of about 2.8million graduates enter the labour market, with only about 10percent of them securing employment. Various surveys by the National Bureau of Statistics show that the unemployed constitute a critical component of the core poor in the society.


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