Wednesday, November 4, 2009

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."
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.
Unfortunately, this revelation is not shocking given the realities of Nigeria's education system. Once the shining beacon on the African continent with people coming from the Carribbean and even as far away as Asia to take advantage of reputable institutions, Nigerian students now sit for months on end in their homes waiting for classes to resume because their teachers must strike to get the federal government to agree to a living wage for them. This despite the fact that Nigeria's legislators become automatic millionaires once they gain their positions. In a society where too many young women are forced to resort to other unsavory professions to make the money necessary to pay for their education or support themselves and their families (as is often the case), because they cannot graduate and cannot find jobs, it is to be expected that the quality of education will decline.

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.

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
Although the problems above do not on their own lead to war, it cannot be ignored that these factors likely play a large role in creating social insecurity and instability. In the case of Nigeria, many of these factors are undoubtedly in existence, though there are pushes to reinvigorate other parts of the economy but these attempts rely heavily on electricity and infrastructural development - things that Nigeria is forced to play catch up on due to years of corruption and neglect. Nevertheless, author Mark Weston asserts that Nigeria's government would do well to not allow the same mistakes that brought Sierra Leone to its knees do the same to Nigeria.

What is more troubling than Weston's advice, Oyedokun's statistics, or the everyday realities of life in Nigeria is the fact that Nigerians have allowed things to get as bad as they have. Sadly, the average Nigerian is faced with the need to survive and care for their families. Nonetheless, as a legislator, Oyedekun must go one step further in his job as Chair of the Committee on Youth and Social Development. He, and his fellow legislators, must ensure that they do their part to finance Nigeria's public education sector and make it competitive and productive. More money spent efficiently will lead to better trained teachers which will in turn lead to better trained graduates. Additionally, legislators must work harder with their state governments to create jobs in their home districts as this will give more young men and women opportunities to earn a living and start their lives independent of their parents. Cross Rivers State for instance has finalized a contract to bring a Six Flags amusement park to that state. It would be the first such establishment on the African continent, and in fact the first outside of North America. This park could lead to the creation of jobs not just at the planned amusement park itself, but additional jobs in the service and tourist sector as visitors from Nigeria and neighboring countries come to take advantage of the park. The benefits of such a park could be exponential and thus beneficial to the state and others affected by it. There are many examples of how state governments have successfully taken steps, big or small, to create job opportunities for citizens, and it is time for legislators to do more than create courtesy bills. Laws that guarantee job creation are necessary to ensure that young Nigerians have a chance at a successful future. The Nigerian economy presents many challenges but if fully utilized, it is more than capable of keepings citizens employed.

And, as for the 23 million "unemployable" Nigerians, Oyedokun and his peers would do well to provide a remedy such as additional educational programs provided at little or no cost to allow graduates to improve their qualifications so as to increase their chances of gaining employment. It is the least that should be done to serve those who need help the most in a country where every day and every person should count in Nigeria's future.

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Azazel said...

Solomon this definitely makes sense, especially with the six flags thing.. I think investors should be encouraged to come and invest in Naija, that way jobs will be created..
But in other for investors to come, security needs to be provided.

Sugabelly said...

Azazel, foreign investment is not the answer.

Lots of people think it is but people don't realise that the revenues from foreign investment are carted out of the country and are never reinvested into the economy.

What we need is a good educational system with heavy entrepreneurial bias combined with government grant allocations for graduating college students that want to start their own businesses.

No matter the economy, MAJORITY of a country's jobs MUST come from domestic sources or that country is up shit creek without a paddle. If Nigeria focuses too much on foreign investment to provide jobs we will be at the mercy of these foreign companies because any change in the political climate or in fact any perceived threat will cause foreign firms to pull out, slashing thousands of jobs in the process.

That is no way to guarantee the security of the job market. Jobs are created by existing companies and new companies entering the market. The existing companies in Nigeria have reached their saturation point and cannot create any more jobs without being redundant. What we need now are for new NIGERIAN firms and businesses to crop up and provide opportunities for employment.

Unfortunately with the educational system in shambles, it is debatable how employable Nigeria's workforce is. To make matters worse, the banking system in Nigeria is not entrepreneur friendly at all and loan securing in Nigeria for a small to medium business owner is almost impossible.

All these factors are things that the government must address swiftly if there's going to be any lasting change.

Economies grow not just by job creation but by active reinvestment of surplus funds into the economy and into new and existing businesses in that country.

Looking to foreign investors to solve this problem is like using a band-aid to cover a gaping gushing stab wound. IT WILL FUCK US IN THE ASS IN THE END AND I WILL JUST SIGH AND SAY I KNEW IT.

Our government has to rectify the educational system, retrain all those youths, force the banks to become more business friendly, secure the electricity supply of the country, connect Nigeria to an undersea internet broadband cable and stop kissing FDI's ass.

But what am I saying, our President's name is Yar'Asleep.

snazzy said...

Unemployment in Nigeria is a very big problem, though it is more an urban problem than a rural problem. The solution has to be a few years away at best as the largest employer of unskilled/semi skilled labor is manufacturing and that sector is currently dead thanks to the power issues. We know we need to fix power, but whether we will do so is another discussion I suppose. As one of the newspapers says it is 57 days to a supposed 6000MW

@ sugabelly, i beg to differ. foreign investment does matter. while foreign firms take their profits off shore they also invest in country. Using everyones favorite telecoms example; MTN has spent over $5billion on infrastructure in country and the other GSM providers have spent something similar. China and co pretty much jump started their economy on foreign investment. It is not a cure all but it is part of the solution.

Harry said...

The situation is really bad and those who are now ready to work are not giving the opportunity too... it is very twisted...

Anonymous said...

Serious issue o!

- Francis O. from Facebook

Anonymous said...


- Abi F. L. from Facebook

Anonymous said...

so sad

- Olamild from Facebook

Anonymous said...

initially i thought i saw unemployed... then i wanted to correct it by commenting "unemployable" then alas! i reread your status correctly......

- Oyeniyi O. from Facebook

FIGE said...

"Let the truth be known, I am not alone....they talking all the freedom madness and they did not even leave a ladder"

tankojjetty said...

You said unemployable abi...
There's something i think you missed out...you never mentioned this individual's empowering themselves as a solution.

To be realistic the Government cannot create jobs for everyone,It can only just provide infrastructure for job creation.So we shouldn't just blame the government.

Individuals should be creative.Its only a lazy man that'll not get food to eat.

tankojjetty said...

And the US is also facing the issue of "Unemployable/Unqualified" Job seekers too


Nigeria Job said...

Very compelling, how I wish some of our leaders are reading this, not just reading but putting it into action.

Inasmuch as Government cannot solve everybody's problem by providing jobs for everybody in Nigeria, at least they can create a very good atmosphere or condition to help and sustain, take US for instance, a country of more than 300 million people, the government knows that it cannot provide government jobs for everybody but it can create atmosphere that can enable businesses to survive, that is what I am expecting from a country like Nigeria, at least let us start from there

A situation where by the roads are not in order, there is no electricity, no security, etc, how do you expect investors to come in? how do you expect jobs to be available if there are no businesses willing to invest?

NaijaBabe said...

This is absolutely depresssing, moreso as I hope not to be the 23,000,001st unemployed Nigerian youth in a few months.

For those who think that Foreign investments do not matter, I'm sure it does. Agreed the returns are carted out of the country, it provides jobs and a source of livelihood. Were regulations in place for foreign investors, many would see themselves having to do a little more than employ the nationals of the country they seek to be based in. I hear that to set up shop in Nigeria, a fair percentage of the business needs to be Nigeria i.e employ Nigerians or use part of the profits to do something in Nigeria. I wonder how true that is.

But anyways, foreign investments are not the only ways all these 23m people can be employed. We need to understand that Nigerians prefer white collar jobs and anything below is frowned at. Hence the reason why getting a degree is the ultimate for every nigerian child, so as to secure a future...or rather increase the chances of him securing a future.

Its quite saddening though that we have so much manpower and it all seems to be going to waste

Ayodeji said...

Unemployment is a massive problem in Nigeria. Entrepreneurs are in demand

Anonymous said...

Great article! I particularly like that this is not just another Nigerian ranting about all the bad, but a combination of presenting the of the very sad facts with possible solutions and examples of ongoing progress.

I recently accepted a job in Nigeria and I am planning to relocate to Nigeria with my family to learn how I can be a good Nigerian citizen and part of the solution to some of our numerous problems. I just found this website while I was trying to educate myself on Nigeria, a country my family and I left several years ago.

I just wanted to say that I have enjoyed reading some of your articles and keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

While greed and selfishness remain endemic Nigeria's problems will persist, foreign investments will simply be mismanaged and siphoned into the pockets of a few already well heeled persons. Investment in maintained infrastructure along with a change in mindset is required for long term development. We have to move away from the decadence of the 'enjoyment' culture, Nigeria does not need Six Flags or a Micheal Jackson theme park! We have to return to the basics, Infrastructure, agriculture, industrialization and manufacturing. It does not sound glamorous but we need to re focus and develop vocations outside of the oil sector, banking and politics


john said...
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Unknown said...

Am getting scare of Nigeria situation

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