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 Unemployment: Have We Lost It In Nigeria?

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Since the advent of democratic rule in 1999, one challenge that does not seem to go away in a hurry is the cross-cutting and often depressing issue of unemployment. The solar plexus of every macro economy is job creation as an instrument of poverty reduction and wealth creation. Year after year, budgets are passed and monies are appropriated, yet not much is seen in the aspect of industrialisation and employment generation. So many university graduates search for jobs eight years after they are done with national service. The rate of unemployment in Nigeria is so high that even the social cost of the menace is crippling. Instead of facing industrialisation and promoting  empowerment through the rejuvenation of Small and Medium scale Enterprises, SMEs, the problem of unemployment is treated as a system. It is for this reason that the Buhari administration has embarked on some phoney social investment programmes  such as seen in N-power, start-up loans and school feeding programmes which are just scratching the problem on the surface. If the National Bureau of statistics put the unemployment figure at 33.3 per cent, then the real figure could be much higher than 37 per cent.
The National Bureau of statistics has  shown  that in  2014, 2015 to 2016, unemployment rate was 4.56 per cent, 4.31 per cent and 7.06 per cent respectively. It was projected that in 2021, unemployment rate would hit 40 per cent. For a nation eager to develop key sectors of the economy, the scourge of unemployment not only poses a serious economic threat; it also triggers security threat to the stability of the nation. Unemployment is characterised by financial hardship, poverty, reduction of family income and increase in dependency ratio.The causes of unemployment in Nigeria are not far-fetched. Nigeria is blessed with abundant human and material resources, but successive administrations have crippled the economy by mismanaging the resources. Apart from being the poverty capital of the world, Nigeria is one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Besides, our policy makers have always adopted the wrong approached to job creation. Added to the aforementioned is the poor investment climate in the country. There is dearth of physical infrastructure, power supply, good roads and adequate security infrastructure.
Rural unemployment is mainly caused by frictional and residual factors. Most rural dwellers do not have the requisite skills and competence to manipulate economic processes. In a country where so much of the educated population is killed, the rural folks who have no skills remain unemployed. Some people also decide to engage in occupations that can enable them sustain their households. Even when such people secure paid employments, they can voluntarily choose not to work. Seasonal unemployment occurs when people get employed during a period when certain economic activities heighten. Such people are laid off as soon as the season is over. Recently, the main cause of unemployment is the global economic crisis. This is also caused by neglect of technical and vocational education. Worse still is the neglect of agriculture which was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy in the first two decades after independence.
During the Second Republic, Late  President Shehu Shagari introduced the Green Programme. Even prior to that the Obasanjo military junta initiated the Operation Feed the Nation programme in 1978. Instead of making Nigeria to move towards self-sufficiency, the country imported more food. The bane of these programmes was corruption in the executive organ of government. The programmes died without changing the narrative. Unemployment has had debilitating impact on people and the economy of the Nigerian nation. So many people who have been trained to acquire high calibre manpower are wasted. Today, so many trained pharmacists, nurses, engineers and other para-professionals are wasted or under-employed because of lack of vacancies. No economy can grow with huge aspect of its manpower being wasted. Qualified manpower is brain-drained out of the country in search for greener pastures. The feeling of hopelessness among the unemployed youths leads to despair and triggers deviance, crimes and insecurity. Most urban areas in Nigeria are yet to contend with the rising spate of urban crime and its attendant negative effects. In Nigeria today, because of social insecurity, the rank and file of terrorism and insurgency is populated by youths, some of them, highly educated. There is also the challenge of low standard of living and rural – urban migration.
When a huge number of youths are unemployed, the country loses a lot of tax revenue and this hinders the development of infrastructure. In the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria, unemployment heightens militancy, oil bunkering and violence associated with those activities. Similarly, in the Sahel region, it triggers farmers/herders clashes and banditry. Nigeria must use labour, intensive technology. There is need to accelerate investment in agriculture as the sector is a major source of employment and food security. No sector of the economy can provide jobs like the agriculture sector and its value chain. Agro-allied industries are the major employers of labour in Australia, India and Canada. Nigeria provides a good climate for agro-industrialisation and diversification. Also, adequate investment in Information and Communication Technology, ICT, and strategically train and employ graduates in the sector. ICT is second to oil in terms of foreign exchange. Nigeria has the advantage of population to provide market for any ICT product.
It has become clear that ephemeral programmes such as N-Power, school feeding programme and other social investment ventures cannot endure because they have low penetration to affect the critical mass of those who have skills but are unemployed. Government must evolve a policy regime through the intensification of techno -vocational education to increase the capacity of the economy to absorb millions of unemployed Nigerians  in the Banking, ICT, agriculture, housing and construction sectors and the mainstream of the bureaucracy.

By: John Idumange

Idumange is a public intellectual.

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Opinion

Gender-Based Violence: Are Women Guilty?

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It has been an active sixteen days globally as activities are organised both on the international and local levels to call for action to end violence against women and girls. In Nigeria, the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence which began on November 25, the international day for elimination of violence against women and will end tomorrow, December 10, the International Human Rights Day, have seen Civil Society Organisations, women professional groups, Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and several other women groups at various forums talking about violence against women and girls and the need to end it.
Violence against women and girls is indeed a very big issue in our society. The traditional and social media are daily awashed with stories of young women, including infants being raped and molested by their opposite sex, married women being raped by their husbands, women being discriminated against in their work places, schools and even families on account of their gender. The issue of wife battering is almost a norm in our society. Many women are dying slowly as a result of mistreatment, abuse and beating meted on them by their husbands, but they seal their lips either for the fear of losing their marriages or for what the society will say. You see a woman being battered by her husband because due to fatigue or other genuine reasons she denied him sex. Recall the case of late gospel singer, Osinachi Nwachukwu, who was allegedly maltreated to death by her husband. These cases abound everywhere such that the 16 days are hardly enough to campaign against it.
But as we carry on with the campaign against violence on the female gender by the male, we must not fail to look at the issue of violence against men. Yes, a lot of men are daily being abused by their wives and other females in their lives but they hardly voice it out. At an event to sensitise the public on the rights of women a few days ago, a consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician with the National Hospital, Abuja, revealed that a recent research conducted by her on violence against men shows that many men are suffering greatly in the hands of their wives. According to her, she interviewed over 200men in the course of the research and over 30 percent of them narrated how they were verbally and emotionally abused by their wives. Some women who are more financially stable than their spouses talk down on their partners, reminding them daily that they are lazy and stupid and that is why they cannot provide for their families.
Some of the respondents also disclosed that their wives denial them sex. A particular man said he had not had a sexual intercourse with his wife for about seven months because the woman was angry that he did not give her money to buy an expensive artificial hair which he could not afford. Some say their partners are always tormenting them, telling their friends, family members and whoever cares to know that they are not good in bed. The truth is that some women are dealing with their partners. Have we not heard stories of how some women will beat their husband only to turn around and raise an alarm, calling attention of their neighbours claiming that their husbands have killed them? Or married women who are having extra-marital affairs, but forbid their husbands from questioning them because they are catering for the family?
These negative attitudes can lead to violence against women. Afterall, it is said that negative energy attracts negative responses. Violence begets violence. You cannot throw a ball to the wall and expect it not to bounce back and probably hit you. So, it is high time due attention was paid to the attitude of women towards their partners. Surely, there is no reason why a man should raise his hands on his or any other woman. There are better ways of handling issues other than being physical. The same should be applicable to women who torture their husbands emotionally. In the words of an author, “the scars from mental cruelty can be as deep and long-lasting as wounds from punches or slaps but are often not as obvious.” No woman, no man deserved to be abused emotionally, physically, sexually, psychologically and otherwise.
So, as the 16 days of activism come to an end tomorrow and we highlight the need for the protection of human right, it would be most appropriate for the CSOs, NGOs and other women groups to use the opportunity to also talk to the women on the need for them to respect and love their partners for peaceful, harmonious relationships.It is important that it should be drummed into the ears of women that marriage is not a do or die affair. Women who are in abusive relationships should speak up and seek help before it becomes too late. Afterall, is it not when you are alive that you have a husband? Are Osinachi and other women who died in similar circumstances alive today to talk about their husbands and their children? Waiting until something destroys you before you see how bad the thing is does not speak of wisdom.
Having said that, it is also time we address a growing trend in our society. Growing up, we were made to understand that there are specific roles for various members of the family, particularly the nuclear family. The father is the head of the family. He provides and protects the family. The woman is supposed to take care of the children and the home and assist the man when she can. The Bible calls her a help mate. These days however, many young men are abandoning the duty of providing for the family to their wives. A woman goes out in the morning hawking all kinds of things in order to get money to put food on her family’s table and to see her children through school. Some women go from one village market to another toiling to make money for the upkeep of their families. But their husbands are at home doing nothing.
Some other young men, especially the educated ones, get married to older, rich women who become the bread winners while the men turn to “oriaku”. And when their expectations are not met or the poor woman after the day’s hustle is late in cooking and serving their food or not yielding to their sexual advances, trouble ensues in their homes. There is no denying the fact that the economic situation in the country is very harsh on a lot of individuals and families. Employment opportunities are becoming more scarce every day. But that should not be the reason for a man to sit at home while the woman is weighed down by the whole burden of the family. This obviously can lead to frustration, provocation and violence. These classes of men should wake up to their responsibilities. Whoever decides to have a family should be able to make an effort to provide for his family while the woman helps. This will go a long way to minimise violence against both the female and male genders in our homes and the society at large.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence are an annual international campaign. It was started by activists at the inauguration of the Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991. It continues to be coordinated each year by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership. It is used as an organising strategy by individuals and organisations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. This year, the theme is UNiTE! Activism to end violence against women and girls!

By: Calista Ezeaku

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Opinion

Just Being You

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We are in a time where excellence is shunned because everyone can not be excellent, so we celebrate the mediocre and those who do not do anything meaningful.
When people decide they want more they are often told that they are elitist, believe in respectability, or told they will miss out because they are setting the bar too high.
Here are some things to consider if you want more out of life:
You will have to decide if what you want is what you really want and you will need to decide if it is worth it. My first question to myself or anybody else is: what do you really want?
I believe there are always two types of answers to that question.
First, it may not be what you really want but it will do for the moment. It does its job in the moment, it makes you feel good, and like you are doing something but it is not really what you want.
It is a good price now but it will cost you more in the end because it is just enough to get you by. (I look at it like continuing to buy cheap earphones. Costs less now but you would have done better buying a good pair instead of wasting more money on the cheap stuff).
However, the better option is that which you really want. It is what will cost more up front but will pay off in the long run.
My values dictate that I want more and I want better so I had to suck it up buttercup and recommit myself to my values. I believe it will all be worth it and the odds are definitely in my favour. . You will have to drop people who are not going anywhere and you can not feel bad about it . There is no rule that says you have to hang on to the same people you have known your whole life. That is right. If there are people in your life that have been going nowhere in life for the past few years, then you should move on.These people will be a hindrance to you. They either will not get your lifestyle and will want you to do what you used to do which may not be where you are going now or you will find out that hanging out with these people is a time waster because you literally have nothing in common anymore.
I prefer to spend my time with people who are critical thinkers, focused on making their lives better, and making an impact in the world. It is the direction my life is going and hanging out with people who are not going that way would be a waste of my time, which is unacceptable.
I should also say that you should stay away from people who only make you feel good but are not holding you accountable and encouraging you to do better. These people are manipulative and are using you for their own selfish reasons whether it is income or pleasure. The friends I work with affirm me but they also hold me accountable to take action in the areas I say that I want to improve upon. If someone really cares about you, then they will make it a point of duty to encourage you to want more out of your life, hold you accountable to take action, and support your growth. Someone who just tells you how great you are is blowing smoke up your behind and will not help you grow. There should be affirmation but also accountability to improve and grow.
You will have to come to terms with the fact that your life will not look like everyone else’s.
One of the main reasons you will want to give up is because your life will be so different from what is considered normal.Wait — is not that what we want?
Yes, it is, but it can be tempting to want to follow the masses or believe that something is wrong with you because what you are doing is so different from what is perceived as normal. However, you need to ask yourself again what is it that you want? Do you want to be normal and like everyone else or Do you want more?
You will have to ask yourself if you want normal or if you want more.
Do you want to be trapped in a life that looks normal but is not what you really wanted?
One of the saddest realities is people who are given a life that they never lived but rather existed in because they wanted to be normal or please others.
You sure will have to disappoint people some times. I recall making the best decision in my life and guess what, it was a decision that led me towards believing a limitless life was possible without the oppression of a belief system that was stifling and even worse, had terrible results and outcomes. It disappointed people but I do not regret it for one moment because even from a young age I knew I wanted more and I did not want to end up like what I was witnessing.
The disappointment was hard at first and some tried to make me feel guilty but when I look at where I am now, my only regret is that I did not do it sooner.
When you want more you will disappoint some people and you will have to ask yourself if you want to live your lif or live someone else’s expectations of your life.
Remember, you are going to have to be the one to live the consequences of that choice, not the people you are trying to please. They will likely criticise you either way. I would rather be criticized for living my life than living a life I never wanted.
I also think sometimes people who are so disappointed may be envious that you are doing what they wished they had the courage to do. What is so sad is that they can do it, if they just would stop believing they cannot. You will inspire others to want more
This is what it comes down to for me. For every person I have disappointed, I am sure I have inspired more to want more as well and see that it can happen.
This is my mission and calling to inspire others to want more. We do not need to be trapped in limited lives and do what we have always done.

By: Leemene Joshua-Ene
Joshua-Ene Esq, is a practising lawyer in Port Harcourt.

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Opinion

Plague Of Micro Corruption

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In 2009, late President Umar Yar ‘Adua launched the rebranding campaign for Nigeria. The rebranding called us to move beyond the hitherto giant of African slogan to a brand that codifies our aspirations of “good people, great nation”. The branding was not about where we were as a people, but about where we could be, if only we could embrace the vision and allow it to consume us on a national scale. Sadly, this laudable vision is only alive in the realms of aspiration. Since independence, we have not had the good fortune of being led by completely honest leaders. We are not unique in this regard, after all, corruption is a global phenomenon. However, almost 62 years after our independence, instead of building stronger institutions and providing basic public service, we have allowed corruption to become a way of life. In fact, it is estimated that between 1960 and 1999, as much as $400 billion has been lost to corruption in Nigeria; and with the current crop of politicians since our return to democracy, the amount is unimaginable. In the past three years, Nigeria has been dropping points in the global corruption perception index (CPI) published by Transparency International (TI). According to their 2021 report, Nigeria scored only 24 points out of 100 points – ranking 154 out of 180 countries.

In 2019 Nigeria scored 26 points, but dropped down to 25 in 2021, implying that corruption is on the increase in the country. According to TI, corruption is defined “as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”. It further notes that corruption can take many forms, including the demand for money or favours by public servants in order to render services, and misuse of public money by politicians among other things. From the view of TI, we can therefore infer that there are two strands of corruption in the public sphere, namely: corruption by politicians and corruption by administrators or civil servants; as evidenced in bribery, nepotism, favouritism, over-invoicing, various forms of indiscipline, and abuse of office.

The corruption of politicians is always grand in scale, whereas the corruption by civil servants is petty, or at the micro-level. While the thievery of political big wigs denied us needed infrastructure, the leeching tendencies of public operators in government agencies, in consonance with various kinds of middlemen place a heavy burden on the citizenry.In 2014, a businessman, Arthur Eze, described Nigerian politicians as morally bankrupt and selfish. In his words, “our politicians don’t care, they are criminals and they are greedy.” It is really sad that even those we might otherwise view as saints and call honourable, are also morally bankrupt and undistinguished when observed at close quarters. These men and women, aside from using their privileged position to enrich themselves, they also steal public property.

During an interview conducted by Zakaria M.B and Button M. in 2021, a senior official of the Code of Conduct Bureau, who was a respondent painted a picture that aptly describes the state of corruption in Nigeria, he said, ” We are in a situation whereby now corruption is pervasive, humongous, institutionalised to the extent that corruption is rewarded…Where in many circumstances one is even required to be corrupt; one will not get his license to do anything if done through the normal process, it is more difficult than if one just bribes, which means it is required. If one needs to get electric meter, it is easier if one bribes than if the normal process is followed, which means it is required. Therefore, corruption is rewarded and even required in many instances of public functions”. A while ago, someone correctly noted that “if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us”.

The prevalence of a culture of corruption affects everybody, including the generations unborn. And the blending of corruption into our cultural fabric has sentenced us to a vicious cycle, such that there is scarcely any one who can be trusted so long as he or she is one of us. We are already at Golgotha The pervasiveness of micro corruption in Nigeria is only second to the air that we breathe; and it is one of the major drivers of unemployment, which is now around 33 per cent MSMEs are dying because of the activities of staff, and prospective entrepreneurs are apprehensive due to the reportage on employee theft and sabotage. The level of dishonesty and underhanded activities associated with staff at small businesses across the country is mind bugling. They shortchange customers, driving them away; this, in turn, leads to declining revenue and eventual collapse.

We are really in trouble because even domestic staff are even involved, according to a story I heard from a laundry business owner. According to him, the domestic staff of a particular customer moved his job to another laundry because he refused to connive with them to inflate the invoice of their boss. It was a rude awakening to me to know that this plague is alive in our houses. The World Economic Forum estimates that as much as 25 per cent of the cost of procurement is lost to corruption. But as Nigerians, we are aware that the figure might be as much as 100 per cent in so many cases. In fact, that is the singular reason for the elephant project phenomenon; and the result is poor or dilapidated infrastructure. But at a micro-level, it is one of the major reasons why almost every activity that supports life in Nigerians is becoming almost unaffordable.

The widespread and insidious nature of corruption is already killing Nigerians in their millions. We are the poverty capital of the world, and there is no crystal ball to see when our fortunes would change, considering the fact that the foundations of this current quagmire have long been laid. The former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, once commented that “the money stolen through corruption every year is able to feed the world’s hungry 80 times, it denies them the right to food, and in some cases, their right to life. Corruption kills, especially when it undermines our ability to live a normal life”.

Corruption is the biggest challenge we have in Nigeria, and if we do not extricate ourselves from its deadly claws we might not survive. We can start by changing our perception of the disease. We must remember that one accepts a disease because his neighbour has it. In the same manner, we must view corruption in the same light; we should face it with the same abhorrence we had for the COVID-19 pandemic. We could also start by asking the simple question – what would my son say if he sees me taking or giving this bribe
Our future is bright even now, but if we continue to allow corruption to thrive, our first-world aspirations would remain only as reflections from a distant land.

By: Raphael Pepple

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