Stemming Youth Unemployment

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The over whelming
number of job seekers who trooped out last Saturday   for the Nigerian Immigrations Service (NIS) recruitment exercise across the country is a pointer to the high rate of unemployment in the country. The Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro in an effort to correct the insinuation that over one million people took part in the exercise, gave the number of the job  applicant as 526,650.
Be that as it may, the mammoth, desperate crowd of applicants at different venues of the recruitment exercise did not depict Nigeria as a country that has adequate plan for its unemployed citizens, particularly, the youth. It is certain that if regular employment opportunities were created for the unemployed, 526,650 wouldn’t have jostled for only 4, 500 vacant positions in NIS and probably  the 19 persons that lost their lives in the stampede that ensued at the various recruitment venues would have been alive today.
A few months ago, a Federal Government agency which perhaps wanted to prevent the kind of mayhem that took place last weekend and reduce the number of applicants reportedly opted for recruitment through oneline registration, but at the end of the exercise, 120,000 applications were received – all struggling for 25 vacant positions.
Youth unemployment remains one of the most critical problem facing the country today. According to a recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), about 54% of the youth population is unemployed.
Incidentally, this is a nation endowed with diverse and  infinite human and material resources, but is being held down by unbridled corruption, mismanagement and sheer waste.
The future of any country depends on the youths. No meaningful development can take place without their active participation. They are the young people endowed with raw energy. They have high hopes, dreams, aspirations and ideas of what their tomorrow would be. They are anxious and dynamic, always bubbling in spirit. Their surplus energy when exploited  is useful for the welfare of the country. Rendering millions of this class of people jobless portends danger for any country like Nigeria.
Many have posited that if the current spate of youth unemployment continues unabated, many of these graduates may eventually be recruited into the rank of oil theft syndicates, armed robbers, kidnappers, militants and insurgents, while their female counterparts may end up as prostitutes.
Government may claim that it has introduced several programmes aimed at empowering the youths and  reducing the number of unemployed youths, but how many youths have actually been empowered through those processes remains to be seen. There is therefore, need for proper review of these programmes to ascertain who actually have been benefitting from them. What happened to the huge amount of money voted for them?
Of course, we all know that government alone cannot provide jobs for the unemployed in the country. As a matter of fact, greater percentage of workers in many other countries are engaged by private institutions. But government has to provide the enabling environment for business to thrive.
If there was constant power supply and other infrastructure in Nigeria, many industries that relocated from Nigeria to other West African Countries where regular electricity cold be guaranteed would not have done so.
No right thinking business man will like to invest in a country where the security of lives and property cannot be assured. So, government should take drastic measures to check the growing insecurity, kidnapping and other crimes in different parts of the country.
To reduce unemployment in the country, we need to look into the undue emphasis on paper qualification in Nigeria which is affecting all sectors of the country in various ways.
It is high time attention was paid to technical and vocational education as that will make the young ones self reliant instead of waiting for elusive white collar jobs from government.
It is important that tertiary institutions in the country abide by the Federal government’s order which mandates them to include entrepreneurial skills in their curricula as a method of reducing the number of job seekers after graduation.
However, it is one thing to acquire the skill and another to be able to secure the initial capital to start the business. That is why government should come up with policies that would make it easy for small and medium sized entrepreneurs to access credits from commercial banks. The delay in accessing such credit is said to have contributed to the killing of initiatives by some young graduates.
To curtail the number of unemployed youths, there is also need for value re-orientation. Youth should be made to imbibe the spirit of hard work, honesty and self determination, instead of believing in “quick money” which leads them to commit all kinds of crime. Government, politicians, parents, institutions, organizations have roles to play in achieving this.
It is high time the country moved from the current cosmetic approach to youth empowerment across frontiers to a more realistic one which will invariably bring about stability, security and rapid national development.

Calista Ezeaku