Nigeria which is the biggest black nation in the world
ought to have a very strong economy capable of employing almost all employable citizens. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate in Nigeria among school leavers is alarming. The economic recession in the country is at its peak now with its devastating effects on the citizens.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, more than 200,000 graduate from Nigerian tertiary institution yearly but only a handful of them secure a job. Some have given up after a long search for a job in the labour market.
Underemployment is seriously taking its toll as most Nigerian graduates take jobs below their education qualification, just to eke out a living. The National Bureau of Statistic as at March, 2016 recorded that the Nigeria unemployment rate for the fourth quarter of 2015 rose to 10.1%. The rate is higher among women than men. 8.8% of males were unemployed in the fourth quarter of 2015, while another 15.7% of males in the labour force were underemployed. 22.0% of women were underemployed at that period.
More so, many have lost their lives in the long search for a jobs that are not there. This indeed has affected Nigeria’s image negatively. For instance, during the 2014 immigration recruitment exercise into the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIC) at Abuja National Stadium, over 68,000 graduates applied for 4,500 job slots. In the process, there was a stampede in which many applicants lost their lives while over 50 others sustained injuries. Similar thing happened in Port Harcourt, Minna, Kano and Benin.
Unemployment has thus reached such an alarming situation today that it is perhaps considered the most serious problem affecting Nigeria. This situation is steadily worsening the gap between the number of unemployed youth and the number of new employment opportunities being created.
Most regrettable is the fact that, the government has done little or nothing to reduce the misery and frustrations of the citizenry who have been thrown into a state of hopelessness. Majority of young people have resulted to any means of survival including crimes. Many graduates are unemployed, not necessarily because they don’t have relevant qualifications, but because the system has been corrupted.
Why are we stuck with these dead woods? There is a saying that there is a solution to every problem. Entrepreneurship can ameliorate this situation. The dexterity with which hunger and poverty have shattered lives and future ambition of youths, especially graduates in Nigeria has led to scholars prescribing entrepreneurship as a lasting remedy for extreme hunger and poverty. The economic displacement in Nigeria is one of the external forces that have made people venture unto entrepreneurship. Every individual has a skill. Initially, it might be difficult but if 50% of Nigerian youths and graduates every year can be entrepreneurs and employers of labour, the job search will reduce.
However, if entrepreneurship is developed, it will go a long way in reducing unemployment among Nigerian youths. It will subsequently stabilise the economy, Studies have shown that entrepreneurship has been beneficial to the country because the private sector comprising small and medium enterprises, provides employment opportunities for 50% of the country’s population and 50% of the industrial output.
Take for instance, the Aliko Dangote Group. Apart from offering employment opportunity to graduates from different ethnic backgrounds, he has also reduced the level of crime by engaging youths who are school leavers in the area of transport, product packaging, amidst others.
The Nigerian government should realise the need to promote indigenous entrepreneurs since there is a diversification in the Nigerian economy. We can’t rely on crude oil all times. We get to do something to better the economy. More entrepreneurship skills development centres should be created and the older ones created before should be upgraded or revived.
Take, for instance, the Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YOUWIN) launched on October 2011 by former President Goodluck Jonathan has taken another shape. It is falling because it is not connecting with existing pro-employment plans and projects as most of the beneficiaries are facing the challenge of inadequate power supply and additional funding for their sustenance and business expansion.
According to Joseph Schumpeters (2008), entrepreneurs play important role in the capital and output growth of an economy and subsequently sustainable development. The Federal Government should also design policy support and incentive plan to encourage and reward young people who are job creators rather than job seekers.
Furthermore, a national skills programme should be formulated and implemented to impart skills to the active population. This could be based on State skills centres that should be jointly supported by both State and federal governments entrepreneurship centres. It will be a commendable gesture.
Moreso, our tertiary institutions should not only recommend entrepreneurial studies as a general studies only but also as a programme on its own. Well, some tertiary institutions have inculcated it as a programme, even the new Federal University Otueke in Bayelsa State is on its move to start by October.
Entrepreneurship education will infuse and expose students’ potentials into entrepreneurial values skills, which include aspects of leadership, innovation, creativity, competitiveness, independence and ability to identify and create opportunities.
In addition, it will also help individuals and the economy in general. We all know that self-employment is a powerful tool to create work and to boost the economy. We also know that an entrepreneurial attitude is nowadays a necessity, not only for entrepreneurs but also for employees.
Conclusively, if school leavers and undergraduates in our tertiary institutions are equipped with an entrepreneurial mindset at the outset of their careers, they will be more engaged and take ownership of their own success.
Nwabueze is a student of Federal University, Otuoke