By Emmanuel Onwubiko & Nneka Okonkwo
Nigeria is currently witnessing some of the worst scenarios of joblessness especially of her productive populace who come out of former educational trainings without any sustainable hope of gaining credible and well-paying jobs.
For millions of Nigerian youth, finding good and satifying jobs is as difficult as finding white falcons thereby exposing a lot of these young persons to varying degrees of crimes even as those of them that are decnt enough to turn down tempting offers from crime lords have decided to emigrate to God knows where in search of the elusive greener pastures. Successive federal and state administrations have all but failed to take concrete and credible measures to create sustainable environment for the millions of youths to become employers of labour rather than jobless youth in search of the elusive white collar jobs.
With increased rate of insecurity and high crime rate across the country coupled with the systemic failure of both the federal and state administrators to fix the largely dilapidated and grossly non-f functional infrastructure so as to create the enabling environment for willing entrepreneurs with the capital to set up cottage industries that would create job opportunities to the jobless youths, the need to search for better ways of creating credible employment opportunities for the teeming army of unemployed Nigerians has become the number one national security interest.
There is perhaps no other necessity that has become imperative than creating sustainable employment opportunities for the youths because of the indisputable fact that the an idle mind is the devil’s workshop and as long as the productive youths can not find credible and sustainable jobs both in the private and public sectors of the nation’s economy, they will sooner rather than later find ways of busying themselves and generate some incomes to keep body and soul together even if that means getting into conflict with the law through committing some criminal activities.
Constitutionally, the primary duty of government is the protection of lives and property of the citizenry and the provision of effective welfare and the moment a government in place fails either by commission or commission to effectively discharge her constitutional duty aforementioned, then the government has not only failed the legitimacy test but has invariably and inevitably created the room and reason for the younger productive but unemployed youths to engage in different crimes including involvement in terrorism crimes all in an effort to survive and/or take out revenge on the larger society.
Knowledgeable sources have over the years found out that the population of every economy is divided into two categories, the economically active and the economically inactive. The economically active population (Labor Force) or working population according to economists, refers to the population that is willing and able to work, including those actively engaged in the production of goods and services (employed) and those who are unemployed. Whereas, unemployed persons in the considered view of economic experts, refers to people who are willing and capable of work but unable to find suitable paid employment and those who have voluntarily left work (Word Bank 1998).
The next category, the economically inactive population refers to people who are neither working nor looking for jobs. Examples include house wives, fulltime students, invalids, those below the legal age for work, old and retired persons. The unemployment rate is expressed as a percentage of the total number of persons available for employment at any time (Briggs(1973). Unemployment is a problem that each society faces, especially Nigeria as a nation, and each society must find a way to beat it.
The question that however, begs for an acceptable and scientifically accurate answer is whether the Nigerian government is committed to finding solution to this hydraheaded monster of unemployment? How far has the Federal Government gone towards creating credible job opportunities for the millions of jobless youths in Nigeria? How have the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory searched for sustainable panacea to the vicious cycle of youth unemployment in their domains?
Has the Federal Ministry of Youth done enough to create job opportunities and/or even effectively coordinated efforts aimed at creating the enabling environment for youth employment in both the private and public sector? Only recently when the Federal House of Representatives Committee on Labour and Prodcutivity visited the Federal Ministry of Labour. it was discovered that the necessary financial releases meant for job creation have not been effectively released and utilized.
It is also a fact that the Presidential offices of Millennium Development Goals and the so-called National Poverty Eradication Programme [NAPEP] have all but failed to galvanize national effort towards creation of credible job opportunities for the millions of unemployed Nigerian youths.
How to create credible jobs in Nigeria has, therefore, become imperative and this is precisely what we have set out to hazard a guess hoping that the Federal and state administrations in Nigeria would pay attention and provide these job opportunities so that Nigeria would, once more, become peaceful and productive because any nation that neglects her youth sector is doomed. Government can do a lot.
The only problem is that in our country Nigeria, we always wait for things to happen before action is taken. Experts through their scholarly findings have severally suggested and we agree that government can create credible jobs through the value chain in mineral exploitation, small and medium enterprises, by creating local demand and empowering local producers.
The leading economies of the world today laid the economic foundation in small and medium enterprises. In fact, the strength of the American economy is in small and medium enterprises. This conclusion by scholars of repute is indisputable because even the British Government understands the essential economic strenght of small and medium scale enterprises making it possible for the United Kingdom’s economy to withstand the ongoing global economic downturn which has adversely affected some European economies like Italy, Spain and Greece.
We have also discovered that Nigerians will gain a lot if the youths are empowered to acquire modern skills of the information technology and since Nigeria is arguably the largest market in the Black World, the youths can look for ways of developing their innate skills and talents to become writers or copywriters for others. From our extensive research, we found out that for people that can write and enjoy doing so, rendering services as writers on the internet is one sure way to create a credible job in Nigeria.
As they say, contest is the “king of internet”. There is no business that can survive on the internet without providing contest for its potential customers. A copy writer is an expert in writing advertisement texts that woo people to buy products and services. We have also found out that education is the key to sustainable job creation across the country.
Government must rebuild the moribund educational facilities, engage quality and skillful teachers, equip the schools in the rural and urban areas with comprehensive sporting facilities to catch talented sports persons in their prime because sports have become big business and big employer of labour internationally.
Nigeria must leverage on the enormous talents that abound among our youth, developed these sporting talents. In this direction, the educational sector has a strategic role to play in creating the necessary skills that would enable the youths to become creators of jobs and not just job seekers. The Federal and 36 states’ administrations must as a matter of national emergency lay emphasis on education.
Providing enabling environment for growth of local industry is a must and the electricity power sector must and should be revived. If public fund are not stolen by officials, then the possibility that government can efficiently meet the challenges of infrastructural development in the entire country will become inevitable, and this in effect will help to launch the private sector into full potentials.
Private investment has significantly stronger effect on growth than government investment (Hernandes-cata, 2000). Onwubiko & Okonkwo write from Lagos.