It’s believable if one describes the phase of being youth as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s dependence. That is why in this category, youth is more unstable than other fixed age-groups. Some say the easiest way to define this group, particularly in relations to education and employment, because ‘youth’ refers to a person between the ages of leaving education, and finding their first job. Now, In a clearer term, the UN defines those persons between ages of 15 and 24 as youth without prejudice to other definitions by UN Member states. Howbeit, we all know that this age in categorisation in Nigeira might not be feasible for several reasons. Unlike in some European nations, where young persons from the age of 18 and 25 could transform into a state of mental, financial and educational independence, most of their contemporaries in Nigeria are still battling with gaining admission to tertiary Institutions and would spend on the average many years in struggling to find job. Hence, we can now specifically say that Nigeria recognises persons between the age bracket of 18 and 35 years as youths. Today, according to the National Bureau of Statistics in its 2012 relevant national youth survey report; youths of working age, in the age bracket of 15 to 35 years are nearly 70 million persons in a population of 166 million Nigerians; of these youths 54% are unemployed due to falling educational standards in the country.
Seemingly now, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines Unemployment as a situation which occurs when people are without jobs and they have sought work within the past five weeks. Thus, unemployment rate is a measure of the prevalence of unemployment and it is calculated as a percentage by dividing the number of unemployed individuals by all individuals currently in the labour force. Unemployment in Nigeria is defined as the proportion of labour force that was available for work but did not work in the week preceding the survey period for at least 39 hours.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s unemployment rate as at the second quarter of 2020 is 27.1% indicating that about 21,764,614 (21.7 million) Nigerians remain unemployed. The Nigeria’s unemployment and underemployment rate (28.6%) is a combined 55.7%. This means the total number of Nigerians who are unemployed or underemployed as at 2020 Q2. Nigeria’s unemployment rate was 23.1% in Q3 2018 confirming it increased by 4% points between then and the second quarter. Specifically, For the period under review, Q2, 2020, the unemployment rate among young people (15-34years) was 34.9%, up from 29.7%, while the rate of underemployment for the same age group rose to 28.2% from 25.7% in Q3, 2018.
These rates were the highest when compared to other age groupings. From this report we need to observe that Nigeria’s youth remain the hardest hit by unemployment with over 13.9 million people aged between 15 and 34 years unemployed. Again, Graduates and post graduates combined made up about 2.9 million of the total Nigerians that are unemployed; In a surpising data, out of the 35.5 million Nigerians that are fully employed, 28.8 million of them never attended school (6.29 million) or did not have a tertiary education (22.5).In fact, most fully employed people in Nigeria with SSS (Senior Secondary School certificates) are a whopping 13.2 million.
Therein, it’s also obvious that some of these youths also consists of people who lost their jobs and were forced into various reasons chose to move from full time employment to underemployment. Today, this situation, which started from employment embargoes in the mid 90s has now assumed a crisis dimension, forcing the youths into disillusionment and making time look for alternative means both negatively and positively to empower themselves. As should be expected, the lack of employment potential make crime a more attractive option for some Nigerian graduates. It is common to find some graduates still roaming the streets, years after graduation in search of jobs that are not there or for which they are not qualified. It is therefore, no coincidence that crimes such as kidnapping which is no longer the new industry is thriving hard in the country. We are also familiar with other crimes like armed robbery, car snatching, oil pipeline vandalization, oil bunkering, prostitution and so on. One may then ask, what are the causes of youth unemployment? This question may be analysed at different levels, one may want to ask that what are the main determinants of fluctuations in youth unemployment? and that why do youth unemployment rates vary more, in absolute terms, than adult rates in response to changes in economic conditions? Now, as I’m not an economist, I don’t know how to answer these questions. One might just need to take a watch into the causes of unemployment in our society, shall we?
Assaying into many reviews and studies, you will all agree with me that the rattling population growth in the country is a cause for youth unemployment. According to the report of National Population Census of the last 2006 census in Nigeria, the nation’s population was put at 140,431,790 and projections for the future indicate that the population could be over 180 million by the year 2020 given the annual growth rate of 3.2 percent. This is 2020, the everyday hanky panky numbers are blantanly enough to tell an average Nigerian that we are yet over 200 million people living in the country. With this population, Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa. It is argued that the high population growth rate has resulted in the rapid growth of the labour force, which is far outstripping the supply of jobs. The accelerated growth of population on Nigeria’s unemployment problem is multifaceted. It affects the supply side through a high and rapid increase in the labour force relative to the absorptive capacity of the economy.
Another relevant cause of youth unemployment is the rural urban migration. This is evident in the large urban population of most Nigeria’s cities like Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano. This creates large numbers of urban population as a result of the meeting over the demanded population. Observing the trend, unemployment is moving along the educational ladder. Jobs meant for the first school leaving certificate holders are competitively occupied by university and polytechnic graduates. No wonder my First class degree holding Uncle is suffering from this course. The competition is very tough.Take for instance, In Osun state, a questionnaire study and visit of the rural urban migration of youths from villages to the city, lay open that 80% of youths interviewed leave their rural location to the city, seeking lucrative jobs which are not even available. The push factor includes the pressure resulting from manland ratio in the rural areas and the existence of serious underemployment arising from the seasonal cycle of the lack of infrastructural facilities, which makes the rural life unattractive. Youths move to urban areas with the probability of securing lucrative employment in the industries. In addition to this, there is the concentration of social amenities in the urban centers.
A writer from the Journal of Arts and Social science described corruption as a cankerworm that has eaten deeply into the Nigerian economy. This also has exacerbated the problem of employment in Nigeria, a country with abundant resources. As Good Wilson puts it, “In the case of Nigeria, the problem however, is not due to lack of land, water, labour etc. as they are all available in abundance, but that of inability to mobilize the abundant resources occasioned by corruption and mismanagement to provide adequate opportunities for the country’s seemingly teeming population”. The high rate of unemployment in the country has being attributed to corruption value chain in high places of authority which is a worrisome situation that urgently require deliberate effort by both government and the private sector to solve. In Nigeria today, it has become a norm that before an unemployed person secure any job, whether in government or private enterprises, he or she must be connected to a top government appointee and or a staunch politician. The situation has degenerated to a worsened state that Nigerian lawmakers, Senators and members of the House of Representatives, ministers, governors, commissioners, council chairmen, traditional and religious leaders, issue notes to applicants before they are considered for any job. It is pathetic that even if an applicant angling for a job is eminently qualified but does not have link to the tog guns in top government.
Also, on the part of the community, there are situations where some applicants who are not in any way qualified for job but has connections with those in government, are offered plumb jobs without prerequisites or having to go through the rigors. To worsen the matter, applicants are now reportedly required to pay huge sum of money before they are employed. The ugly trend is allegedly rampant in federal ministries, military and paramilitary agencies. From a report from Businessday, an unemployed youth lamented that “The unemployment situation in the country can only get worse than better because corruption has taken the center stage. If you are not connected to a politician or government official, you cannot secure any job in Nigeria. When we applied for paramilitary job in the recent recruitment, applicants were asked to pay between N300,000 and N600, 000 according to junior or senior rank. But those that brought notes from Senators or paid the money did not even go through screening, and they were shortlisted. Some of us, because we had nobody, we were qualified, we passed through all the process including training but at the end, our names were not listed for employment. This country is finished,” isn’t not?
Some scholars and commentators have also argued that as far as the formal sector is concerned, the average Nigeria graduate is not employable and, therefore, does not possess the skills needed by the employers of labour for a formal employment. After all employers do not need people to pay or spend their money on but people that will help their organization grow and make more profit as the primary goal of every enterprise is to make profit. Again, you might want to ask? You say our graduates are unemployable? But what is the use of the four, five or six years used in the four walls of a citadel of learning is? After the whole stress of gaining admission, surviving in the new neigbourhood, surviving the tests, exams, in the cruel hands of harmattan and heat now, you say they are unemployable. The question remains why are they unemployable? The skills which most employed most possess secured them seats in the tight labour market while the skills most unemployed lacks, make them victims of unemployment. It is no longer news that people go to school for the fun of it these days. That’s why upon graduation, you realise that little or no change has occured in some who passed though the four walls of an institution. Then I wondered, how will our youth acquire the skills to deem them fit for employment.
Also like a scholar said that It is important to note that entrepreneurship drive in Nigeria is diluted with ineptitude among youths. The environment is hostile and unpleasant for entrepreneurship to strive. According to a 2013 study of Adawo on “Graduate unemployment in Nigeria:Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Nexus”. He stated that the Nigerian infrastructural system limits entrepreneurial effectiveness and is a barrier to success. Yet still, lack of electricity, poor communication system, insecurity and corruption are all inimical to entrepreneurship, the spirit of entrepreneurship does not sit high in people’s economic consciousness”. Truly, the hostile environment blurs the wonderful prospect of a large number of youth to develop a well-spirited drive for entrepreneurial success.
Obviously, there are hundreds causes of unemployment, hence we cannot exhaust them all. Yet, it’s necessary to take a view into the effects of unemployment by the youths. Today, the consequences of youth unemployment are massive. Many scholars believed that being unemployed at the first stage of life for young people causes persistent negative results for all their further lives and careers, because it harms their productive potential and future employment opportunities. There’s the talk of crime, the problem of violent crimes in Nigeria has been exacerbated by the high rate of unemployment and economic hardship which has pushed many jobless youths some of whom are graduates into various deadly crimes. A 2009 World Bank report on ‘Employment and Growth’, warned that, “The share of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 outside the labour force is growing, despite the country’s strong growth performance over the years”. The UN-Habitat study on crimes and violence stressed that socio-economic inequality and the lack of opportunities for social advancement and employment are some of the root causes of crime and violence. Children and youth from disadvantaged families are vulnerable to fall prey to criminal networks. Of the estimated 1 billion people living in slums, over half are under the age of 25, and 40% are estimated to be under the age of 19.
UN-Habitat also reported that they are the primary victims of social exclusion through unemployment, lack of access to health and education. Furthermore In their study, an empirical survey of Children and Youth in Organized Armed Violence in Nigeria, reported that disenchantment and frustration of young people due to mass poverty and unemployment, has increased the number of aggrieved youths and resulted in the emergence of IPOB clamouring for the Biafra republic, Bokoharam clamouring for impolitic ideas, and all other criminally minded youths. Crimes like fraud, narcotic drugs, trafficking, money laundering, bribery, looting, illegal arms dealings, smuggling, human trafficking, illegal oil bunkering, illegal mining, tax, evasion, foreign exchange malpractice, and all are rampart amidst unemployed youths.
In a joint study of P. S. O. Uddin and Osemengbe O. from Ambrose Alli University, Edo State, they unfurled Job insecurity as an effect of youth unemployment. As Job security is the panacea for any meaningful socio-economic activities which has not been fully understood and integrated in our scheme of things. The job security as an all encompassing condition in which individual citizen lives in freedom, peace and safety, participate fully in the process of governance, enjoy the protection of fundamental rights, have access to resources and the basic necessities of life, and inhibit an environment which is not detrimental to their health and well-being. In the same vein in Nigeria job security is an all-encompassing condition in which individual citizen lives in an environment where job equals opportunities are not provided for all citizens but exceptionally for the rich and those with the highest connection. Other effects might include the unemployed youth feels desperate, idle, excluded, discouraged, scarred and thus they have to accept worse working conditions, part-time and temporary jobs and lower income. If young people do not find regular job, these negative feelings and costs can impact whole their life it can also cause being unemployed at the beginning of working life causes different mental disorders (depression,suicide attempts, desperation) and these affects all further life if being unemployed continues.
Today, we should know that there is no single way to solve the youth unemployment problem. Policies against youth unemployment should be comprehensive, country-specific, and focused on reviving growth and advancing structural reforms. It is thus necessary that high sustainable growth will be crucial to create new employment possibilities for all including the youth. While youth must find all means not to be vulnerable by getting the employable skills. Hence, as suggested by social commentators, employment problems can be created only if the government does not set up adequate measures to control population and to distribute resources equitably giving a sense of belonging to all citizens. Therefore, to provide the teeming controlled population the needed employment opportunities, there is need to efficiently allocate resources and initiate projects towards employment generation. Again, agriculture should be promoted. This requires designing and implementing policies that make the sector more attractive than it is today. These should include a better organization of the sector in terms of both production and marketing. Substantial government participation is necessary in view of inadequacy of private operators in Nigeria.
The Economic and Financial Crimes commission(EFCC) should also should bring any one faulted in the crimes of any fraud, narcotic drug trafficking, money laundering, embezzlement, bribery and looting, and any form fo illegal arms deal, snuggling, human trafficking and child labour, illegal oil bunkering, counterfeiting currency which are all common among Nigerian youths. Many are also of the opinion that the government should strengthen of existing institutions by appointing decent people to head them, respect their tenure and appoint successors rather than political appointee. Other suggestions includes government should invest heavily on education, education that will enable the youth to become self reliance instead of job seekers through skills development and training. Infrastructural building that will provide employment to thousand people such as good roads, electricity, provision of portable drinking water. Again, Creation of labour market that work better for the youth. In Nigeria, government programs such as Startup Nigeria (SN), National Poverty Eradication Program (SPEP), Small and Medium Industries, Special Public Works (SPW), Equity Investment Scheme (SMIES), Youth Entrepreneurship Support Program (YESP), Social Intervention Fund (SIF), N-Power were set up to alleviate the challenge of unemployment, yet, these programs have generated mixed reactions.
Finally, Shall we wait on Special Public Works (SPW) programme of 774,000 jobs? Shall we wait on other subtle promises of the Buhari led administration? Only time will tell