With an unemployment rate of 28.57%, the revelation that 23 million of Nigeria's youths "are unemployable" was a tough pill to swallow. Mr. Depo Oyedokun, Chair of the House Committee on Youth and Social Development made the announcement while presenting a bill that would require this fact be considered in all government policy. Oyedokun stated,
"Of the over 40 million unemployed youths in the country, 23 million are unemployable and therefore susceptible to crime, hence the need to articulate what could be done to salvage the situation... [the] aim is to create the enabling legislative framework that would ensure the total emancipation of the Nigerian youths."WHAT THIS REALLY MEANS
Regardless of how accurate Oyedokun's numbers are, the possibility that so many young women and men are not adequately prepared to enter the work force is startling. In a country with a high level of unemployment (though there are many foreigner working in Nigerian mines), and where at least 800 industrial firms have shut down since 2000, this statistic means that able bodied Nigerians do not have the necessary skills and qualifications they should have received during their studies.
As Oyedokun noted, the fact that these individuals are unemployable indeed makes them more likely to commit crime. It is therefore no coincidence that kidnapping has become a thriving business that allows young people to make huge amounts of money that they would otherwise never see. Nor is it shocking that far too many resort to using the internet to scam those that are greedy and/or unsuspecting. It is also not a surprise that so many disillusioned young men take to the call of violent Islamist groups such as Boko Haram or even take up arms as militants in the Niger Delta.
NIGERIA MUST NOT FOLLOW THE SIERRA LEONE EXAMPLE
This reality - the lack of options and opportunities for Nigeria's young people is one that cannot be ignored because to do so would be foolhardy. There is some evidence to suggest that the lack of economic opportunities for young people has created enough discontent to start wars that tear nations apart. Sierra Leone provides a possible example. According to David Keen's 'Conflict and Collusion in Sierra Leone' the situation with that country's youths created the perfect time bomb that led to years of civil war and destruction. Specifically -
- Large youth population
- high competition for economic opportunities and services
- dependence on a single natural resource
- the neglect of other crucial areas of the economy
- high unemployment
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