Opinion: The true story of unemployment among youth in Nigeria

by Segun Adebiyi

Since the inception of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerian news has been abuzz with many issues including corruption, the security threat posed by the Niger Delta Avengers and other militant groups, fuel crisis and above all, the current economic recession that has imposed harsh economic conditions on the vast majority of Nigerians, many of whom are now grumbling loudly, asking the president and his administration to deliver more quickly on the change he promised them during electioneering.

Besides the above-mentioned problems which became very much pronounced since the ruling party, All Progressives Congress, APC, took over the reins of power in 2015, there were also other challenges faced by Nigerians.

One of them is the problem of unemployment – an issue which is like a disease that the cure is yet to be discovered. This is evident based on the fact that both the present and past Nigerian governments seem to be clueless on how to develop practical strategies that will be applied in order to achieve a permanent solution to the menace.

According to the 2016 report of the National Bureau of Statistics, the rate of unemployment in Nigeria was recorded at 13.3 percent in the second quarter of 2016, up from 12.1 percent in the three months preceding March reaching the highest since 2009. The number of unemployed persons increased by 12.2 percent to 10.644 million. Meanwhile, youth unemployment rose to 24 percent from 21.5 percent.

Unemployment Rate in Nigeria averaged 9.28 percent from 2006 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 19.70 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 and a record low of 5.10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Consequent upon a job advertisement on employment websites like JoblistNigeria, 16 people were in March 2014, killed in a wild stampede when 500,000 desperate job-seekers rushed to apply for under 5,000 vacancies at the Nigeria Immigration Service.

Every year, about 200,000 students graduate from universities, but many fail to find a job, and some end up seeking out less-than- honourable means of supporting themselves.

This leads to the question: Since it is obvious that it has become easier for a fowl to urinate than for job seekers to get white collar jobs, is it not glaring that there is a dare need for restructuring in the Nigerian education sector?

In many Nigerian tertiary institutions students are fed theories and little or no practical backup. As a result, upon graduation, they apply for jobs for and are either not hired or relieved of their jobs shortly after employment because they find it difficult to translate the theories they know into reality.

Graduates most of the time, stay in their parents’ homes for a long period of time with daily increasing frustration, depression and pessimism. This negativity is one of the root causes of crime among youths in Nigeria, as they resort to dishonest activities because there is nothing else to occupy their time or generate income.

If you think this challenge is peculiar to Nigeria, you are wrong!

Unemployment is a general issue in Africa but to provide the answers that Africa, especially Nigeria, desperately needs, there is need for the youths to look inward.

I believe that everyone has what it takes to live above poverty but this treasure may never be discovered without a personal effort from the individuals directly affected by unemployment. This brings us to the issue of self discovery.

It is high time we discovered who we are outside what we are forged or influenced to become in classrooms. Ask yourself what do you truly desire to be / do? What do you feel compelled to do? Acknowledge yourself for your uniqueness. This will give you the courage to leap from your comfort zone and you will be surprised to find yourself removed from the “job seekers club” to the Employers club.

There are many creative people in Nigeria but the problem is that they do not know they are creative. Aside embarking on a personal journey of self discovery, it is important to help bring to the consciousness of the youths, probably through seminars, the talents deposited in them that they have not discovered. There are many celebrities in Nigeria today who made it and are still making it in their chosen fields of practice despite the fact that it was never what they studied in their different institutions.

This is also linked to the need to have a change of mindset. A lot of people in tertiary institutions are not versatile, and they have a strait-jacketed mindset that the only place they will work in are offices that are garnished with air-conditions. Others have a fixed mentality that no matter how long it takes to hook a job, the places they will ever work in must be related to their areas of study, notwithstanding the fact that they are aware of innate abilities in them which may only need to be brushed up for them to flourish.

When youths, especially graduates of higher institutions, are made to understand that there is nothing wrong with making use of skills acquired outside their course of study, it will be a step in the right direction towards ending the scourge of joblessness.

Believe it or not, the journey of ending unemployment in Nigeria will never bear fruit until the people directly involved decide to make a shift.

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