EVERY society across the world has its peculiar problems and challenges, Nigeria is not an exception. As a developing country, she faces her own share of social, political, economic and cultural problems, which have, in no small measure, affected the well-being of the populace.
AMONG the problems bedeviling the country is youth unemployment, which has serious implications for national development. Unemployment rate in Nigeria has continued to be on the increase despite the abundant human and natural resources available in the country.
Indeed, unemployment is evident in Nigeria. Every year, thousands of graduates are produced by no fewer than 167 varsities as well as hundreds of Polytechnics, but there are no jobs for majority of them.
NIGERIAN streets are littered with youth hawkers who ordinarily would have found gainful employment in some organisations/government parastatals or rather be self-employed with initial seed capital from government or finance houses. It is rather unfortunate that the number of graduates being churned out every year are more than the available jobs in both the private and public sectors, not minding the fact that some of these graduates are unemployable.
THE latest unemployment figures released recently by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed a starling figure of joblessness in Nigeria revealing that the number of unemployed Nigerians rose to 20.9 million in third quarter (Q3) of 2018 from 17.6 million in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2017. The figures showed that unemployment rate had risen to 23.1 percent at the end of Q3 of 2018, up from previous 18.8 percent in the corresponding quarter in 2017.
ACCORDING to the NBS, Nigeria’s unemployment level rose from 14.2 per cent to 18.9 per cent in 2017. At the same time, the country’s labour population increased from 83.9 million in the second quarter to 85.1 million in the third quarter of 2017, a difference of 1.2 million.In its latest report titled, “Unemployment and Underemployment Report from 1st Quarter to Third Quarter 2017,” the NBS said the total number of people in full-time employment declined from 52.7 million in the second quarter 2017 to 51.1 million in third quarter.
THE latest NBS unemployment figures indeed painted a grim picture of the job crisis in the country.
The highlights of the report revealed that economically active or working population (15-64 years of age) increased from 111.1million in Q3, 2017 to 115.5 million in Q3, 2018. Besides, it noted that of the 20.9 million persons classified as unemployed as at the Q3, 2018, 11.1m did some form of work, but for too few hours a week, while 9.7m unemployed did absolutely nothing. Of the 9.7m that was reported to have done nothing within the Q3, 2018, 90.1 percent of them or 8.77 million were jobless because they were first time job seekers and have never worked before.
IN terms of unemployment by gender, the report disclosed that 26.6 percent of women within the labour force (aged 16-64) and willing, able and actively seeking work, were unemployed during the period under review. This is 6.3 percentage points higher than unemployment rate for men, which is 20.3 percent, and 3.5 percentage points higher than the total labour force unemployment rate, which is 23.1 percent. For women, this also represents 5.4 percentage point increase in unemployment from the same period of 2017.
IN addition, by age group, the picture is scary, as unemployment rate for young Nigerians aged 15 to 24, stood at 36.5 percent, and 24.4 percent for those aged between 24 and 34, making the total youth unemployment rate 29.7 percent .
THE rising unemployment rate is worrisome and government’s apparent failure to curb it is equally disturbing. It will be recalled that NBS in its report of unemployment figures in the last quarter of 2017, predicted that Nigeria would experience higher unemployment rate in 2018 and advised government at all levels to apply good economic measures that will create jobs.
IT noted in the Q3, 2017 report that the rate of unemployment would increase at a faster rate for urban dwellers because of rural to urban migration. That warning was seemingly unheeded. As the latest statistics have shown, this is the highest unemployment rate since 2009. Until now, unemployment rate in the country in the past decade averaged 9.76 percent, reaching 19.70 percent in 2009, but dropped to a record low of 5.10 percent in the last quarter of 2010.
THE Truth is unemployment will continue to grow unless we turn job seekers to job creators. So there is a need for all stakeholders to join hands to reduce the unemployment rate in the country. Our higher institutions should endeavour to produce employable graduates as well as those that can create jobs in order to compete favourably with their counterparts around the world. We should go back to technical education and as well encourage farming. There are many arable lands across the federation readily available for farming. We urge the government to facilitate access to such land for people to farm.
RISING youth unemployment can worsen the nation’s general insecurity. The recent World Economic Forum (WEF) reports that Nigeria has reached 50 percent on the world’s misery index underscores the need to address the menacing trend of unemployment. Therefore, the government should frontally tackle the scourge.
BASICALLY, tackling unemployment will lead to reduction in social challenges such as criminal tendencies and insecurity among other social ills that confront the nation. Therefore, action against joblessness should not be merely for political consideration but for national development and democracy.
WHILE we commend Ondo State government’s initiatives aimed at tackling unemployment through agriculture and industrial transformation approaches, we appeal that the programmes be sustained and like Oliver Twist, we ask for more of such ideas.
CONSIDERING the enormity of social economic challenges associated with joblessness we call on governments at all levels to find a lasting solution to the menacing trend with determination that there shall be no respite until the statistics show unemployment plunge head long into extinction across the country.