The authorities must do more and create an enabling environment for gainful employment of the youth
Three years ago, the World Bank reported that Nigeria was currently undergoing the worst unemployment crisis in its history. Sadly, the situation has since worsened with no indication that the authorities in Abuja and the 36 states recognise the looming danger. Titled, ‘Of Roads Less Travelled: Assessing the Potential for Migration to Provide Overseas Jobs for Nigeria’s Youth’, the report particularly raised the alarm over the nation’s expanding working-age population combined with scarce domestic employment opportunities amid dwindling resources. This, according to the report, is creating high rates of unemployment, particularly for the youth.
The bank particularly noted that the socio-economic challenges facing the country in the past decade have led to an astronomical increase in the number of Nigerians seeking asylum and refugee status in other countries. A combination of rising unemployment, booming demography, and unfulfilled aspirations, according to the World Bank, resulted in increasing pressure on young Nigerians to migrate in search of gainful employment overseas. When you juxtapose the report against the background that foreign direct investment to the country is drying up, it is obvious that we have a serious challenge on our hands.
The situation is worse for those who live in rural communities. The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations has harped on how the insurgency deny farmers access to agricultural inputs in the area. But the problem is not restricted to the North-east. In virtually all parts of the country, many farmers cannot access their farms because of insecurity. This has started manifesting in the rising cost of food across the country. Despite the claims by government officials, the much-touted economic growth has not generated sufficient employment, nor has it addressed the growing gap between the rich and the poor.
At practically all levels, there seems to be a misconception about what governance is all about. The tragedy of that misconception could be seen in the scorecards of some state and local governments’ helmsmen who celebrate the building of perimeter walls around government structures, distribution of foodstuff during festivities, and donation of vehicles to traditional rulers as landmark achievements. Yet good governance is that which is focused on the people, their safety and welfare, the optimal allocation of scarce resources and the effective implementation of policies for service delivery.
At its 2023 annual session in January, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) projected unemployment rate in Nigeria to rise to 37 per cent this year. Meanwhile, the demand for young Nigerian graduates in both the United States and United Kingdom has increased. Nigerians are seen as aggressive, hardworking, achievement motivated among third world immigrants. The UK has adjusted its immigration policies, now allowing new Nigerian graduates a two-year window to work in the UK after graduation. But the main challenge is that there are no concerted efforts to tackle this problem.
While states and local governments seek oil-rents and jeopardise internally generated revenue, successive national governments have also not adequately used oil revenue to lift the ordinary Nigerian out of poverty. Rather, and in addition to rent-seeking, these revenues have served as slush funds and continue to enrich a few corporations and individuals over the masses. The high rate of out-of-school children and poor output in the education sector also contribute to deepening the challenge of unemployment as the nation continues to churn out a crop of uncompetitive youth in a world driven by technology. The federal government has also continued the regime of waivers to only a few persons as well as payment of subsidies that do not impact on the poor.
As we transit into a new administration at both federal and states, we need strategies for job creation for our growing young population.
Good governance is that which is focused on the people, their safety and welfare, the optimal allocation of scarce resources and the effective implementation of policies for service delivery