How Nigerians are coping with unemployment

nigeria-unemployemrtOnyinyechi Ezeh, a 28 years old graduate of Political Science from Abia State University, is not a happy lady. Her unhappiness is hinged on the kind of work she does. She is a teacher in one of the private schools in Aba where she resides.

Apart from the N10, 000 monthly meager salaries she receives, there is no job satisfaction for her because she said she was not a trained teacher.

However, Ezeh found herself in teaching profession because she was tired of idleness after fruitless search for job in the last three years; she was left with no option than to opt for teaching.

“I was pissed off with the activities of recruitment agencies. I registered with up to three of these agencies with N2,500 each, yet nothing came out of any of them.

They were only sending me to the offices where there were no vacancies,” she lamented. Explaining her plights before she took the teaching job, Ezeh said she seeing felt people leaving for work and coming back. Kate Adebayo, 29, a promotional dancer, finished from Lagos State University in 2012. She has refused to be frustrated by job scarcity in Nigeria.

Go to computer village at Ikeja, Adebayo is simply helping herself with her God’s given talent. She is today, widely known for dancing especially for companies promoting their products. She goes about with any of the company that needs her services.

In her words: “What do you want me to do? At least, I’m better than those who steal or sell their bodies for money. I’m somehow happy because I’m using my God’s given talent to fend for myself and my family who solely depends on me.”

Paul Ekeh, a motorcycle rider popularly known as Okada, almost went berserk three years ago after he frantically searched for job without any luck. Everybody around him automatically became his enemy because happiness was far from him.

He graduated from Nnamidi Azikiwe University Awka in Anambra State and had his National Youth Service Corps in one of the parastatls in the Airport Ikeja.

All hope of being absorbed where he served failed even all other efforts to even get something else became impossible.

However, respite came his way when a close relative loaned him some amount of money to purchase motorcycle.

Today, Ekeh has not only made himself proud despite the restriction of Okada in some areas in Lagos, he is getting married by December, courtesy of Okada business.

Most graduates are now taking their destinies in their hands not waiting for either private or government jobs any longer.

Such youths engage themselves in meager jobs below their status such as teaching in private schools where they receive peanuts as wages, working as receptionists in private owned establishments where salaries are annoying, some work in business centers, some do commission jobs for companies where they carry the company’s products to people’s offices, some security jobs, selling of recharge cards, bus conductors, car washers, dry cleaning jobs and many more just to make ends meet.

Sadly, some of the youths out of frustration engage themselves in illicit activities such as armed robbery, kidnapping, hijacking, internet fraud, prostitution, gigolo, and many other societal vices. Whereas some, perhaps, because of the high standard they must have set for themselves which they were unable to meet simply take their lives instead of facing the challenges squarely.

Recently, a graduate of Polytechnic Ibadan was alleged to have taken his life for his inability to secure a job. It was reported that he died in lake situated at Aba Apata, Adegbayi, in Egbeda local Government Area of Oyo State.

Similarly, a young Nigerian graduate in Katsina town had in 2010 committed suicide over his prolonged period of unemployment.

Severity of unemployment is a big challenge in Nigeria, which over the years has represented a lost opportunity for national economic development.

With the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) putting the current rate of unemployed in Nigerians at 23.9 percent, up from 21.1 percent in 2010 and 19.7 percent in 2009, the rising unemployment rate in Nigeria has in no small measure contributed to the continuous rise in social vices like terrorism, political thuggery, violence and even teenage pregnancies among youths in many parts of the country.

According to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, who quoted some figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in Abuja recently, she said no fewer than 5.3 million youths are jobless in the country, while 1.8 million graduates enter the labour market every year.

This figure, we believe, is a conservative estimate of the actual number of unemployed youths in the country, going by previous statistics released by NBS, which put the number of jobless Nigerians at 20.3 million.

Considering the number of graduated that are churned out by the universities, the figures are not likely to be anything less.

Three batches of graduated are push to labour market every year. Adaku Uzor, a political Science graduated from Imo State University who just passed out, told Saturday Mirror that where she served in Enugu State that her set which is batch B was up to 5000 corps members. This is just for one state and one batch only.

Narrating his experience with unemployed youths is Soji Oluwole, a senior staff in one of the new generation banks. He told Saturday Mirror that many youths pester him with their curriculum vitae, CV, ceaselessly.

He said some of them who are walking around have one or two talents that will turn their lives around. “Some of these unemployed youths have right there in their pockets the means of making money.

They may not make the kind of money they should make from regular employment but the fact remains that you make the money for yourself not that somebody is paying you salary,” he said.

He added that “unemployment rate is high and it’s still getting higher; people that are employed are thrown into labour market. Honestly, every day I prepare for unexpected because it can happen to me. Every day I sit down to write what I can be doings incase it happens.

And that is what I think we need to impact on our youths; they need to understand that the fact that they do not have a letter of employment does not mean they should not have a means of livelihood.

We have many who have embarked in that line and they are doing very well,” he advised. Akintunde Odunsi, a retiree, is a bit disappointed with some youths of today. His reason is that most youths of nowadays don’t want to do anything.

“What we need to do is to encourage them; we can’t leave them because these youths of today are the leaders of tomorrow and if they don’t have any job how are they going to lead us?

They will turn to hoodlums. When police catch all those robbers, a lot of them will say it’s because they are unemployed. Even though to certain extent I don’t agree with that because there are a lot of things you can do on your own,” he said.

“An idle mind is the devil’s workshop, somebody who doesn’t have anything doing can easily think about evil and can easily be lured into criminal things that is more reason why we must continue to encourage them.

We must not give up on them because that’s the only way the country itself can be better, individuals too can be happy.

A lot of parents send their children to higher institution to go and become somebody in future but they need to take their future into their hands,” Odunsi said. In agreement with Oluwole and Odunsi, Gandonu Babatunde, a psychology lecturer at the Lagos State University, heaps the blame of the joblessness on policy makers in education sector who approved of school curriculum, which he said is cognitive-based.

“The truth is that 85 percent of our curriculum is cognitive based. In education you have three domains- cognitive domain, affective and psychomotor domains.

Cognitive domain has to do with thinking, affective is about mind while psychomotor deals with working with hands.

So our curriculum has been structured in a way that 85 percent of what we do is cognitive only,” he said “I think it is high time our education system was totally overhauled. China is what it is because they give room to psychomotor aspect, that is why they are advanced technologically today,” Babatunde said.

According to him it’s not the responsibility of government to create jobs but rather to create enabling environment.” Now most of companies in Nigeria are folded up, some are in Ghana because of electricity; millions of Naira they spend on diesel is enough to establish another section,” he lamented.

President Jonathan had in the last quarter of 2011 stated that the country’s leaders risked insurrection if they failed to urgently create jobs for the jobless, particularly the youth.

Before then, former President Olusegun Obasanjo had re-echoed the 2010 International Labour Organization (ILO) conference warning on the great danger posed by unemployment globally.

Nigeria’s Vision 20:20-20 1st Medium Term (2010-2013) Implementation Plan, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Omar (in his 2011 May Day Address), and ILO Director-General Guy Ryder (in the World Development Report for 2013) all captured the gravity of the problem in their various statements, concluding that “.. We have to act urgently, we have to act now and we have to target young people.”

President Jonathan in his presentation of the 2013 budget speech said concerning unemployment and poverty: “This constitutes an obstacle to sustainable development as it limits improvement in living standards, output and social cohesion which are key factors for achieving inclusive growth.

Our challenge therefore, transcends how to achieve growth. Our objective is to achieve inclusive growth by identifying and developing job creation opportunities.” Still, for every slot of job opening advertised, there are conservatively an estimated 95 applicants.

The trampling of graduate job seekers to death during stampedes at Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment in March 2014 presented a graphic picture of the sorry situation of unemployment across the country.

It is worrying that despite vast human and material resources naturally bestowed on Nigeria, gross mismanagement, profligate spending, poor leadership and corruption by public officials has not allowed optimal utilization of these resources in such a way that they would bring maximum economic benefits and employment generation to the citizenry.

Over time, and particularly since 1986, governments have instituted various measures and policies aimed at containing the plague of unemployment and poverty, which appear to have made insignificant impact; these include: NDE, NAPEP/Keke Napep, NEEDS (I&II), and various “Skills Acquisition/Empowerment” schemes.

In the 2000, Obasanjo administration declared N10bn which was very big sum then public works scheme for direct job creation, while President Jonathan equally announced N50bn direct job creation in the 2011 federal budget. However, many believe that no much impact came from any of these schemes and programmes by government.

Most recently, the Government launched a Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YouWin) programme, the Community Service, Women and Youth Empowerment Programme (CSWYEP) under the SURE-P, and the Graduate Internship Programme, “in which participating private companies provide one-year internship to 50,000 graduates, paid by the Federal Government.

Social critics say that all government- sponsored job creation and poverty reduction schemes and programmes share a common destiny of publicity blitz and gradual fizzling out from the scheme of governments’ priorities.

Many are quick to ask why the very robust and intellectually sound and tested National Action Plan on Employment Creation (NAPEC) has been left out of all these schemes since it was finalized for implementation in 2009.

NAPEC enjoyed wide-range support and contributions from both national and international stakeholder bodies like the ILO, the Federal Government of Nigeria (apart from the Labour Ministry), the National Assembly, NECA, NLC, TUC, the World Bank, a team of National Consultants, and other international development partners.

NAPEC adequately provided answers for Nigeria’s employment need from 2010 to 2020, in line with NV20:20-20 while exposing the abundant job opportunities in 11 key sectors of the economy. NAPEC was rightly anchored by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity with rich technical support/contributions from the ILO.

Many are wandering why the government prefers YOUWIN to NAPEC. Babatunde therefore, advised that youths should create their future by taking their destinies in their hands.

“We have to change that mentality that oh when I finish university, my uncle knows someone in Oil Company or in the bank. Don’t be surprised that in few years to come; many will still lose their jobs because technology is advancing.

In some years back, what 30 people in the bank could do, with computer less than 10 people will do it now.

Possibly in few years to come, technology would have advanced to the extent that you don’t even need people, just programme your system, once you programme your system, what human being would have done, robot will be doing it,” he advised. -NationalMirrow

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