Nigeria is currently witnessing some of the worst scenarios of joblessness especially of her productive populace who come out of formal educational trainings without any sustainable hope of gaining credible and well paying jobs. For millions of Nigerian youth, finding good and satisfying jobs is as difficult as finding white falcons,
thereby exposing a lot of these young ones to varying degrees of crimes even as those of them that are decent enough to turn down tempting offers from crime lords have decided to emigrate to God knows where in search of the elusive greener pastures.
Successive federal and state administrations have all but failed to take concrete and credible measures to create sustainable environment for the millions of youth to become employers of labour rather than jobless youth in search of the elusive white collar jobs.
With increased rates of insecurity and high crime all across the country coupled with the systemic failure of both the federal and state administrators to fix the largely dilapidated and grossly non- functional infrastructure so as to create the enabling environment for willing entrepreneurs with the capital to set up cottage industries that would create job opportunities to the jobless youth, the need to search for better ways of creating credible employment opportunities for the teeming army of unemployed Nigerians has become the number one national security interest. There is perhaps no other necessity that has become imperative than creating sustainable employment opportunities for the youth because of the indisputable fact that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop and as long as the productive youth cannot find credible and sustainable jobs both in the private and public sectors of the nation’s economy, they will sooner rather than later find ways of busying themselves and generate some incomes to keep body and soul together even if that means getting into conflict with the law through committing some criminal activities.
Constitutionally, the primary duty of Government is the protection of lives and property of the citizenry and the provision of effective welfare and the moment government fails either by omission or commission to effectively discharge her constitutional duty aforementioned, then the government has not only failed the legitimacy test but has invariably and inevitably created the room and reason for the younger productive but unemployed youth to engage in different crimes including involvement in terrorism crimes all in an effort to survive and/or take out revenge on the larger society.
Knowledgeable sources have over the years, found out that the population of every economy is divided into two categories- the economically active and the economically inactive. The economically active population (Labour Force) or working population according to economists, refers to the population that is willing and able to work, including those actively engaged in the production of goods and services (employed) and those who are unemployed.
Whereas, unemployed persons in the considered view of economic experts, refers to people who are willing and capable of work but unable to find suitable paid employment and those who have voluntarily left work (Word Bank 1998).
The next category, the economically inactive population refers to people who are neither working nor looking for jobs. Examples include house wives, fulltime students, invalids, those below the legal age for work, old and retired persons. The unemployment rate is expressed as a percentage of the total number of persons available for employment at any time (Briggs(1973).
Unemployment is a problem that each society faces, especially Nigeria as a nation, and each society must find a way to beat it. The question that however begs for an acceptable and scientifically accurate answer is whether the Nigerian Government is committed to finding solution to this hydra headed monster of unemployment? How far has the Federal Government gone towards creating credible job opportunities for the millions of jobless youth in Nigeria? How have the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory searched for sustainable panacea to the vicious cycle of youth unemployment in their domains? Has the Federal Ministry of Youth done enough to create job opportunities and/or even effectively coordinated efforts aimed at creating the enabling environment for youth employment in both the private and public sectors? Only recently, when the House of Representatives committee on labour and productivity visited the Federal Ministry of Labour, it was discovered that the necessary financial releases meant for job creation had not been effectively released and utilised. It is also a notorious fact that the Presidential offices of Millennium Development Goals and the so-called National Poverty Eradication Programme [NAPEP] have all but failed to galvanise national efforts towards creation of credible job opportunities for the millions of unemployed Nigerian youth.
Knowing how to create credible jobs in Nigeria has therefore, become imperative and this is precisely what we have set out to hazard a guess hoping that the Federal and state administrations in Nigeria would pay attention and provide these job opportunities so that Nigeria would once more become peaceful and productive because any nation that neglects her youth sector is doomed.
Government can do a lot. The only problem is that in our country Nigeria, we always wait for things to happen before action is taken. Experts, through their scholarly findings have severally suggested and we agree that government can create credible jobs through the value chain in mineral exploitation, small and medium enterprises, by creating local demand and empowering local producers. The leading economies of the world today laid the economic foundation in small and medium enterprises. In fact, the strength of the American economy is in small and medium enterprises. This conclusion by scholars of repute is indisputable because even the British government understands the essential economic strength of small and medium scale enterprises making it possible for the United Kingdom’s economy to withstand the ongoing global economic downturn, which has adversely affected some European economies like Italy, Spain and Greece.
We have also discovered that Nigerians will gain a lot if her youth are empowered to acquire modern skills of the information technology and since Nigeria is arguably the largest market in the Black World the youth can look for ways of developing their innate skills and talents to become writers or copywriters for others. From our extensive research, we found out that for people that can write and enjoy doing so, rendering services as writers on the internet is one sure way to create a credible job in Nigeria. As they say, contest is the “king of internet”. There is no business that can survive on the internet without providing contest for its potential customers. A copy writer is an expert in writing advertisement texts that woo people to buy products and services.
We also found out that education is the key to sustainable job creation all across the country. Government must rebuild the moribund educational facilities, engage quality and skilful teachers, equip the schools in the rural and urban areas with comprehensive sporting facilities to catch talented sports persons in their prime because sports have become big business and big employer of labour internationally. Nigeria must leverage on the enormous talents that abound among her youth and develop these sporting talents. In this direction, the educational sector has a strategic role to play in creating the necessary skills that would enable the youth to become creators of jobs and not just job seekers. The Federal and 36 states’ administrations must as a matter of national emergency lay emphasis on EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION.
The fact as stated by some opinion leaders that Singapore has some of the best set of students in the world is because the government of that country hires the best college students to be primary school teachers. The Nigerian government should employ students graduates as teachers and pay them very handsomely (they say everybody has a price). Each primary school teacher must have a master degree and must go to teaching school on a state scholarship. It is our considered opinion that about thirty percent of Nigeria’s annual budget should be spent on education as opposed to just 0.6% (Somalia, known as a failed state even spends more on education). Nigeria must spend quality fund on public schools and set up oversight strategies to ensure that these funds are actually committed to public schools because only then would Nigeria become a contender for the status of one of the most developed countries. Nigeria currently spends more on defence and less on education and the government fail to realise that no matter how heavily it spends on the defence sector, if the productive youth are not adequately educated and empowered to become creators of jobs, then the armed forces should be prepared for a long battle which it cannot win.
Government has talked too much about the so-called ‘cassava bread’ to encourage the local producers of cassava but very little is being done by the national and sub-national administrations to compel financial institutions to provide favourable credit facilities for farmers. There is also the need to reform the land laws to collaterised land and make them collaterals for bank loans. Government must stop paying lip service to the agricultural sector because that is one of the few sectors that can provide major sources of gainful and credible employment opportunities for the millions of unemployed youth of Nigeria. The current President Goodluck Jonathan Federal administration has talked too much about developing the agricultural sector but for most Nigerian farmers, nothing much have been achieved in this direction. Therefore, Re-prioritisation of agricultural sector is imperative since the country is primarily an agrarian economy. Once agricultural sector is prioritised again by government, there will be credible jobs, a sum total of about 300,000 jobs can be created in the subsector this year (The Nation 2012).
Both the Federal Ministry of Labour and the Nigeria Immigration Service must do something to check the abuses of expatriate quota by multinationals who keep saturating the market with lowly skilled staff from foreign countries even when Nigerians are denied such opportunities to work in some of these companies that are known to have cornered several huge contracts in the construction and crude oil sub-sectors of the economy. Majority of these blue-chip companies are abusing the local content laws and government has not done anything to effect a change for the better. Government must therefore in our thinking, discourage the invasion of Nigeria by these poorly skilled foreign workers being brought in by some of these multinationals.
Consumers also have a role to play to encourage local manufacture of items that can easily be made here rather than rely so much on imports from China. We should halt the inordinate desire for foreign products for which substitutes are available in Nigeria. The consumers must borrow leaf from the patriotism of the Chinese consumers by developing taste and patronising locally made goods and services. Why for instance will the political elite paid and serviced with public money prefer foreign made furniture rather than buy made in Nigeria chairs and furniture? By so doing the market would be expanded and more jobs created.
Providing enabling environment for growth of local industry is a must and the power sector must be revived. If public fund are not stolen by officials, then the possibility that government can efficiently meet the challenges of infrastructural development will become inevitable and this in effect will help to launch the private sector into full potentials. Private investment has significantly stronger effect on growth than government investment (Hernandes-cata, 2000). As stated earlier government should implement deliberate measures for the expansion of activities of informal sector by efficiently enforcing mechanisms that would enable private sector investors to overcome teething challenges, which revolves round the inaccessibility of credit to finance their activities. Supporters of government’s current economic blueprint believe that there is a glimmer of hope, considering the ongoing policy through the Central Bank of Nigeria, on microfinance banking, which according to their thinking is capable of leading creation of more jobs. Lastly, we think that effective implementation of policies can reduce the total level of unemployment by focusing on improving occupational mobility of labour.
Leading economists believe that for the Nigerian government to achieve some of these noble goals, the nation needs some reforms of the tax and benefits systems like “Welfare to work schemes”- see new deal improvement on skills and reduce occupational mobility. If the large percentage of the youth, are gainfully engaged or employed, they will have no time to dabble into criminal activities, and when there is peace in the country, every other thing will definitely fall in place.
+Emmanuel Onwubiko and Miss. Nneka Okonkwo, esq, wrote in from Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria, Abuja