The recent application of 16,000 job seekers for less than 100 vacant positions advertised by the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) for the Court of Appeal has, once again, underscored the seriousness of the employment crisis in Nigeria. Jostling by thousands of applicants for limited jobs on offer has become a common occurrence in the country.
This development underlines the failure of the government to create a good environment for job creation in the country. The FJSC, which handles recruitment of staff into vacant positions in Federal judicial agencies and departments, advertised less than a 100 jobs on January 13, with submission of applications scheduled to close on February 28. But, by February 8, 20 days to the initial deadline for submission of applications, 16,000 persons had already applied for the jobs. This gloomy employment situation in the country is a mirror of the sorry condition of Nigerian youths, 20 million of whom have been said to be unemployed by the National Bureau of Statistics.
This dreary picture of joblessness persists in spite of the institution of several schemes, such as the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), the Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (You-Win) scheme and the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) Unfortunately, the gains of many of these programmes are seen more on the pages of newspapers than in serious reduction in the severity of unemployment in the country.
Billions of naira have been sunk into these job creation efforts over the years, yet Nigerians are still forced to ask what government is really doing to create jobs because the employment crisis is not abating. Instead, the situation has now degenerated to the extent that university graduates are now taking up jobs as drivers and commercial motorcycle (okada) operators. It has become quite glaring that government is yet to get a solution to the employment problem. Relevant government agencies are largely at sea on how to achieve significant reduction of the problem. They have failed to get their plans to create jobs right, and the government must forge a formidable coalition of stakeholders to tackle the menace.
While we recognise that it is not the sole responsibility of the government to create jobs for everybody in the country, the authorities have a responsibility to provide an environment in which businesses can thrive. When businesses flourish and expand, jobs will automatically be created, and job losses will be minimized. Big corporations will be attracted into the country and they will absorb many of the job seekers in the country. Although the Federal, State and Local governments cannot provide jobs for all Nigerians, the government is expected to make policies and set up institutions to ensure a good atmosphere for job creation.
The private sector should be empowered to create jobs. Electricity supply should be made regular so that businesses can thrive. Since government businesses are hardly efficient in Nigeria, the best bet is to strengthen the private sector to absorb the large army of job seekers. To get the best from its efforts, government should keep managers of its job creation agencies on their toes to ensure that they do their jobs. Where the managers of such institutions cannot fulfill the expected functions of their offices, they should be booted out. Again, the Federal Government should address corruption, which oftentimes militates against the success of job creation programmes in the country.
It is necessary for the government to review the uses to which billions of naira voted for job creation programmes through its agencies in recent years were put. Again, the few jobs available in the Civil Service, these days are, most times shamelessly monopolized by unscrupulous top government functionaries for the benefit of their families, friends and cronies to the detriment of ordinary job seekers. There is no equality of access to the few government jobs available. Even when it may not be the direct responsibility of government to create jobs, it must do so because of the long list of economic items under the exclusive legislative list, such as the railways, the oil sector and aviation.
A government that is solely in charge of railways, aviation and the oil sector must be in the vanguard of job creation in the country. Neglect of this responsibility is, unarguably, at the root of the socio-economic malaise and insecurity troubling the country. To reduce these problems therefore, the government must re-jig its job creation efforts and consider a social welfare scheme for the unemployed. Let electricity and good roads be made available, while agriculture and the textile sector, which are labour-intensive, are resuscitated to absorb part of the large army of unemployed Nigerians.