The term unemployment, without mincing words, simply means lack of job or employment. Like every other country of the world, Nigeria also has unemployed citizens. It needs to be made clear that unemployment cannot be totally eradicated because of the myriad of factors causing it. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss these factors in great detail. However, issues like lack of education, skills, opportunities, investment by private sectors, laziness, stigmatisation, corruption, nepotism, and lack of adequate governmental support are all worth mentioning.
Individual disposition to work represents one of the major causes of unemployment as many youths have chosen not to use their heads and their God-given talents to do things that are profitable to themselves and the society at large. So many youth have decided to be dependent on Government or their parents and some do not even want to work at all. For many others, it has been a case of rejecting job offers severally because of their perceived minimal remuneration -‘small salary’. They do not want to start small, but want to earn big, which is akin to putting the horse before the cart. It suffice to say that well known billionaires like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Aliko Dangote, all started from zero level and worked their way up!
Community/parents have also in no little measure contributed to the cause of unemployment. It is a known fact that many parents choose careers for their children which ultimately results in lack of passion on the part of the children. No one wants his/her child to work as a road side mechanic, cobbler, painter or even as a fashion designer e.t.c, but wants them to be accountants, doctors, lawyers among other perceived noble professions. It is therefore not a surprise that these professions have been flooded with incompetent hands. For example, if 100,000 people apply for a job space for just 2,000 people, it will leave 98,000 jobless. These 98,000 people who should have been useful in other areas such as carpentry, painting, electrical engineering e.t.c. are therefore stuck in-between, becoming unproductive hands to the nation. We all seem to have forgotten that these hand-based skill jobs are essential for the overall well-being of a modern economy. Unfortunately, many people have attached stigma to these jobs.
Other factors that have greatly impacted unemployment in Nigeria include corruption, tribalism, and nepotism and by the day, the rate of unemployment has continued to increase. I have had cause to ask myself so many questions most especially with regards to what present and past administrations have been doing in terms of creating employments. I am aware of employment/empowerment projects like N-power, YOUWIN, FADAMA, LASTMA, KAI, RRS, EFCC, GEP, ICPC e.t.c, which are all opportunities created by both past and present administrations. So, why are we still struggling with unemployment?
I witnessed an unpleasant situation recently where a man was given up to four appointments due to nepotism and corruption. Jobs that are meant for about four people are left in the hands of one man who is incompetent and knows next to nothing about job. This is a major problem in Nigeria and it is quite unfortunate. Another ugly trend is the growing cases of ghost-workers which also represents a major contributor to unemployment in the country. As a nation, if we can strive to curb this menace, it will also go a long way in curbing the growing spate of unemployment.
One of the easiest ways of achieving this is to introduce concepts like BVN (Bank Verification Number) into our civil/public service and even in our private establishments.
If the concept is improved upon with the goal to collecting the employment status of every Nigerian, the system will automatically detect if someone is already employed elsewhere and it will state the salary of the person. This method will go a long way in curbing ghost-employment and as such if anyone is found guilty, he/she must be penalized
I will also like to recommend that all employers are mandated to do a check on the status of their employees before employing them. But in exceptional cases such as consultancy and part-time employments, the employees may be required to come with a letter of recommendation from his previous employment. I also think it will be a good idea if the database of all graduates is yearly updated.
One other area that should be looked into is the issue of misplaced priority. In my own opinion, the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) is presently not serving any of the purpose of its creation; it’s now a misplaced priority. The purpose of its creation was to enhance and promote unity in cultural diversity, where young graduates are encouraged to learn other people’s cultures and ways of life. Today, many youths with the assistance of many coordinators pay their way to avoid been posted to northern states most especially. Many youths bribe their way out in order to be posted to their comfort zones as well which does not in any way enhance the purpose of the service year.
It would not be a bad idea if serving corps’ members are empowered with capital to start up businesses even while serving in other states. Take for instance; Mr A is a graduate from Osun State, he should be posted to Bauchi State to serve and he must be given a certain amount (capital) to start up a business instead of the monthly allowance. If this is done, it will create a lot of jobs in their community of primary assignment. Let’s do a simple calculation; if 1,000,000 youths graduated the same year as Mr. A and are given at least #500,000 each to start up their business, it will sum up to #500,000,000,000 (five hundred billion naira). The implication of this is that there would be a ripple effect on our economy. Imagine if the 1,000,000 youths that are empowered with the said funds, employ a minimum of three other youths, we should be looking at a total of about four million job created in a certain year. This should also be replicated at the level of agencies of government at the federal and state level with the adoption of a central monitoring system. In a year, I believe we should have created at least 10 million jobs besides other intervention programmes.
On the side of the law, our lawmakers must wake up from their slumber to pass laws that will force all institutions to include business proposal writing as part of the graduation requirement. All students must have submitted at least three or four business proposal/business plan in which just one of it must be defended before the senate of the institution just as it is done for projects before the student will be allowed to graduate. The business proposal/plan must carry a high grade in order to force the students to participate. Irrespective of the course studied by the student, they should be able to come up with a business plan. The businesses may be in establishments of schools, hospitals, law firms, engineering firm, trading (buying and selling), accounting and auditing firm e.t.c. By the time they graduate and go through the above proposed scheme, the government must give them licence to operate.
I will also like to recommend that the government must set up a monitoring committee/ministry whose function will basically be to collect and update the employment status of all Nigerians. The same ministry will also be in charge of monitoring the growth of the businesses established by the NYSC members.
Finally, it is my hope that the Federal Government will critically look into the above proposal and adopt it nationwide. I believe with the adoption of most of these plans, unemployment will be reduced to the barest minimum.
Omoyeni Olawale Damilola