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by Macaulay Jamiu

Unemployment In Nigeria remains an unending nightmare to most Nigerian youths.

It becomes so sad that, on a daily basis, the turn-out of graduates from respective universities, polytechnics, colleges of educations & monotechnics stands the chance of remaining unemployed due to certain reasons. In a system of education that purely focuses on certificate-acquisition-mentality above skill-knowledge-based acquisition, we would continue to remain in this serious mess.

It’s apt to emphasise at this juncture that, our education systems in Nigeria don’t correspond directly with the economic realities prevailing the school systems. Come to think of it, in Nigeria, the alarming rate of unemployment is drastically getting out of hand such that, it continues to weaken our economy due to the fact that, poverty takes the centre stage.

Bill Clinton was right to have once opined that, he doesn’t believe that the state can repair the basic fabric of the society until the people who’re willing to work have work to do. This argument may not be tenable if a country produces more of graduates who’ve the mentality that, the moment they graduate, there is a ready-made job awaiting them or with the hope of getting the white-collar job on the relative side of the divide.

Our educational systems have in recent times ended up training professionals & people without skills, considering the fact that, the immediate past administration introduced Entrepreneurial Skill Acquisitions in our various Universities. To worsen the issue the more, theory has absolutely replaced practical as there is no how a theoretical mind can fit in to a practical-oriented organisation. That is however, a time bomb awaiting immediate explosion.

To drag the point home further, Nigeria produces individuals whose services don’t reflect the economic trends on the job (labour or money) markets. As a graduate that is trained to have the mentality of white-collar job right from pre-primary to secondary school, self-employment becomes ‘’a story for the gods’’ to such an individual. Prof. Bidmus once argued that, Nigeria’s economic & educational troubles began & ended with Nigeria’s curriculum. He further said that, our curriculum was basically decorated to limit the scope of an average student not looking beyond his/her current economic or social realities. How many graduates are computer oriented? How many graduates are skilful in vocationally-related-practical courses forgetting that, the little jobs that are available require either skills in one major area or the other or by connection (whom you know & not what you can do to solve their critical issues)? How many of our tertiary institutions or technical schools have the required facilities to meet the global needs or requirements? These are many endless issues that continue to milk our economy dry in such a way that, these so-called graduates smartly shift the blame to the government not providing them the required jobs.

There is no doubt that each government has its blame but can the government provide job for all the citizens? I leave my readers with this to ponder on till an answer is swiftly provided. In quite a number of developed economies, you’re required to possess one skill or the other that would peradventure make you to be self-employed in a case where employment by either the private or public sector doesn’t go round to such an individual. In conclusion, our educational system has purely provided academic & bookish knowledge which isn’t despicably attracted to job oriented individual. To this end, most engineers, technicians, & other well qualified persons in Nigeria don’t possess the ample means for self-employment. Even though some still hide under the umbrella of not having access to loan. Some who even have access to loans don’t use it judiciously to meet the flight of their needs. Most of these professionals end up going about in search of paid jobs. It’s so absurd if not sad that, a trained mechanical engineer who’s graduated with a first class can’t repair his/her faulty vehicle. Not because he/she’s uninterested or too big to carry out such a duty but because his knowledge his pencilled down to be theoretical than practical world-view. He/she’s moreover perfect at detecting or troubleshooting that fault or mechanical problems without any equipment but on paper. Unemployment is becoming so alarming by the day on the basis of the fact that, almost every government focuses mainly on capital-intensive projects rather than labour-intensive skills. Our past political leaders also didn’t help matters as they have corrupted the system to the extent of imbibing the culture of power retention. The funds needed for the development of a sector would be diverted for personal use.

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One of the reasons why our educational system becomes faulty or questionable is based on the fact that, the background of most graduates is nothing to write home about. Take for instance, how do you expect much from someone who’d never independently sat for any external exam be it, common entrance, junior waec or senior waec, having in mind, JAMB & POST-JAMB? In a nutshell, the point clearly stated here is that, examination-malpractice also has negative effects on the competence test of each graduate any tertiary institution turns out.

In a country where the population increases maximally & the unemployment rate sky-rockets, the future becomes bleak for an average Nigerian youth.

Thanks to the previous government who’s introduced an empowerment programme called SURE-P. This programme in the past gave room for at least, 41,000 unemployed graduates to gainfully receive training in one area or the other & as a matter of fact, some of them secured employment in sensitive private sectors.

As the unemployment rate continues to frustrate the economy, it tends to lead to loss of human resources, unitization of skilful & competent individuals, neglecting untapped talents & resources, increase in poverty rate- a hungry mind is the devil’s workshop. It also parachutes social problems such as dishonesty, bribery, theft… social security would also be jeopardised resulting into electoral violence. Lastly, exploitation from private ownership with hard labour may continue to weaken the economy.

Within the quarter of 2018, statistics has revealed that, the unemployment rate in Nigeria has summersaulted into 81.20 which is dangerous to a developing economy like ours. A comparative analysis of this surprisingly states that, countries that have the largest population were still able to be on top of sensitive economic issues such as unemployment, death rate, other persistent or perennial problems. Take for instance, China has a population of 1,415,045,928 but jokingly has just 3.52% of unemployment rate in the quarter of 2018. India is another example with a large population of 1,354,051,854 but shockingly has only 3.52% of unemployment rate. Similarly, the population of Germany, Switzerland, Japan & Mexico aren’t anything close to Nigeria’s population. Nigeria currently has a population of 195,875,237 but summarily has multiple unemployment rate of these four countries. What this signifies is that, we’ve a long way to go. As much as anybody can go on to argue that, these countries have come past similar troubles or challenges, the same applies that for how long has India gained independence that they have made a meaningful success with respect to their economy.

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The gross implication of unemployment is that, it metamorphosis creativity into redundancy, laziness & completely abject poverty. The last stroll that broke the camel’s back was that, the youth are at the receiving end of these travails. As it stands, young people will continue to constitute about half of the world’s population of most countries in the next three to five decades to come.

The more the government consistently neglects the consequences of unemployment rate, the graver the effects on the economy in the nearest future. President Muhammed Buhari has taken a giant stride by employing or providing jobs for 500,000 unemployed graduates under the auspices of Npower.

Npower has put smiles on at least, 200,000 unemployment graduates to the extent of providing devices for each volunteer to aid the specific area he/she’s been placed to function effectively. Virtually all the 36 state governments in Nigeria are now smiling due to the impact of the Npower volunteers in the area of Agriculture, Health & Education respectively.

As nice or laudable as this programme is, it becomes meaningless if at the end if they aren’t absorbed either by the FG or the state government of their (deployed) states. If the FG argues that, there aren’t enough space to grant them permanent employment, what about the state governments? It’s a mere waste of resources & exercise in futility to engage fresh & old graduates for two years & take them back into the streets to becomes job seekers, beggars or subject them to economic frustrations reminding them of their dark old days…

Either the FG or the state governments have a stake or role to play in making sure that, this programme lives up to its required expectations, objectives, aims or goals. Subsequent administrations after PMB should pick a clue from this so as to nip the problem of unemployment in the bud.

Tied to this, to absolutely frustrate unemployment, the government at all levels need to do the needful & look beyond the immediate benefits but long-term goals. The LASG under Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has tremendously tried to reduce the rate of unemployment in Lagos. He’s touched the health sector, the education sector, to mention a few. It’d be a welcome development & a pass mark to his administration if he deems it fit to retain or absorb the Npower Volunteers in Lagos based on their indelible contributions to the tripod sectors they are posted to make their presence felt. Both Lagos & other states can go ahead to reconsider or review their economic plans to accommodate them into respective ministries.

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To this end, graduates in a 21st century need to be computer literates by equipping themselves with computer skills & communication materials that would make them globally competitive. The power sector requires stability so as to attract foreign investors. Incessant power outage has in a way densely contributed to the increase in unemployment. Government at all levels should implement meaningful policies that would guard workers from not losing their jobs anyhow as job security goes a long way in shaping people’s lives. The government from time-to-time should create or have a database of employed & unemployed citizens in order to find a lasting solution to it. If government at all levels create demand in the economy, businesses would be willing to help in this area provided such grants would arrest significant projects such as road construction, minimal or zero interest rates so as to influence spending. This would spur the citizens into optimum productivity. Entrepreneur has it’s taught currently in our universities should produce the best out of the teeming population of fresh graduates as the money or labour market awaits. This should take them beyond paper-work otherwise called certificates that can’t fetch them ideas that would put money into their pockets. States, or private sectors that offer jobs or employ youths on the basis of whom they know should stop that & be the last thing that would ever happen because there’s no how you can get the best when those who’re competent & fit for the job are gainfully denied the opportunities while ignoramuses are given a chance on the pedestal sentimental stance to advertise or market their ignorance. Haba! That would be too bad in a developing economy like Nigeria.

Above all, as much as unemployment has come to stay as one of the biggest challenges to Nigeria’s economy, there’s need to urgently address it before it sets out for doom.