Nigeria and the Unemployment Monster


One major problem that has almost assumed an incurable status in Nigeria today is unemployment. It is next to corruption in terms of its pervasiveness. Ironically, while corruption is most rampant among the rich and the powerful, unemployment is dearly rooted among the impoverished and ordinary Nigerians. A recent United Nations statistics show that only about five per cent of fresh Nigerian graduates are able to secure good jobs after the National Youth Service, while about 15 per cent make do with jobs that could hardly earn them a good living. The remaining 80 per cent are said to be in unemployment market, with no job to make a living. Unlike in the heyday of the oil boom when university graduates were hot cakes in the labour market, when holders of mere secondary school certificates and teachers training colleges were toasts of many employers of labour, unemployment situation in Nigeria today leaves much to be desired. Everywhere you go to in the country, the story is the same, with the preponderance of “No vacancy” strategically and conspicuously placed at the entrance gates of companies. The metropolitan cities are the most affected. Just as the economic vagaries have made cities and states in the country a Mecca of some sorts for destitutes and beggars, the toll of unemployment has made many fresh Nigerian graduates relocate from their immediate environments to some cities like Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt considered to be more economically viable. Lately, however, these so-called lands of fortune have also developed a taloon to kill, with many young graduates roaming about the streets in search of jobs that do not exist. Take the case of Richard Musa for example. The expectation of getting a good job made him leave his home town in Plateau State for Lagos. After graduating in mechanical Engineering from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, with second class upper division in 2005. .Musa was lucky to secure a job with an engineering ompany where he had his National Youth Service Corp. In 2007, however, the 28 year-old graduate was hit by mass retrenchment in his company and has since then been thrown into the labour market. Musa’s ordeal is just a tip of the ice-berg compared to many others. For example, Tessy Gboelo is a holder of the Higher National Diploma (HND) in marketing from the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu. After her National Youth Service in Port Harcourt in 2005, she went for her masters degree in Business Administration to enable her survive the discrimination against HND certificates by some employers. On her return to Port Harcourt last year, Tessy joined a marketing company as a sales girl where she was receiving the commission of her sales as monthly salary. Sadly, her company folded up early this year and the 32 year-old orphan with two younger ones to fend for had to depend on friends and relations for survival. The situation is even worse in Abuja considered to be the capital of Nigeria. Unlike other cities in the country where the living standard is relatively bearable for the average income earner, Abuja is a ‘no go area’ for the unemployed. Today, getting a job to keep body and soul together is like searching for oasis in the desert. Young graduates are the most affected. The employment situation in the country has made many of them to take to menial jobs. While a large number of them have even taken to some criminal activities like kidnapping, armed robbery female prostitution, touting and political thuggery etc. For instance, the Rivers State governor, Hon Chibuike Amaechi, and his deputy, Engineer Tele Ikuru recently admitted that lack of gainful employment was a major factor responsible for some kidnapping activities in the Niger Delta. But how did Nigeria come about this ugly situation called unemployment, considering the fact that in the 1970’s, companies were the ones looking for people to employ? This was the contention of Mr Lateef Aminu, the operation manager of the First Island Bank, Bori branch. He argued that the ugly trend of unemployment could be blamed on poverty of leadership in Nigeria. According to him, since the Second Republic when Nigeria has been having the problem of poor leadership, the country’s once buoyant economy has been in the doldrums. “With the economy getting worse, many companies began to fold up, while the surviving ones could only employ an insignificant number of the population. Pathetically, those at the helm of the nation’s affairs, rather than establishing more companies and creating more jobs were merely exploiting their offices to amass wealth at the expenses of the downtrodden masses,” Aminu said. Mrs Nancy Amadi, an accountant, could not agree less. She rgued that the resources available in the country, if managed well, are enough to provide jobs for all eligible Nigerians. But Nigeria she said is experiencing this hardship due to poor leadership and corruption. Meanwhile, many people have also blamed the problem of unemployment in Nigeria on the economy depression which has made it difficult for the existing companies to absorb more employees. They argued that due to economic quagmire that has rendered many companies nonviable, many companies have decided to employ the services of the computers which now reduce the number of labour to be employed. With this pathetic situation, what then is the solution to this hydra-headed monster called unemployment in Nigeria? Is there any end to this unemployment saga? These are some of the questions begging for urgent answers from all the three tiers of government in Nigeria. Boye Salau