Solving Nigeria’s Unemployment Crisis

“The idle everywhere consume a great part of it( i.e. a nation’s annual produce); and according to the different proportions in which it is annually divided between those two different orders of people( i.e. the industrious and idle) ,its ordinary or average value must either annually increase or diminish, or continue the same from one year to another.”

Adam Smith

Profile of Adam Smith
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In addition to the other already discussed issues, employment generation in Nigeria is another very important challenge we need to take seriously.

Among the youth of Nigeria , who are at their prime and are willing to work , unemployment is as high as 46%.This means that one out of every two young Nigerians is unemployed and of the remaining 50% who are employed, at least 25% of this number are underemployed-working long hours under grueling conditions for small pay.This means that at least 60% of Nigerian youths are looking for work or are looking to change their jobs and that the majority of them are unhappy and discontent with their current state.
When we consider then that the youths constitute at least up to 40% of our approximate population of 167mn and that of these 66.8mn number strong youth population, that 60% i.e.40.08mn youths are in a state of discontent, then the continued sustenance of our nation should be a concern to the people. If this is put in perspective it means that at least 25% of the total population is discontent which is significant especially when we consider as well that we have not included the much younger and older members of the population. 
If at least one out of every four persons in Nigeria is discontent and youths constitute a major part of these numbers-with their bristling energies and restless minds- none of  the nation’s policy makers should go to bed and sleep peacefully if the interest of the nation is really in their heart.
Today the current federal government is emphasizing on the need to create jobs for young Nigerians by liberalizing the oil industry and investing massively into agriculture. This no doubt represents a part of the several options available to the government and there are of course other options that can be pursued without the need to go into conflict with the Nigerian masses. The government today says that if she can save money from removal of subsidies that she will be able to use these saved monies in capital projects especially in agriculture that can then create wealth and jobs. This is true but what about reducing the current size of government and showing a more serious commitment to eliminating societal corruption and engendering the right mindset of society to the dignity of labour and honesty? Without tackling the canker worm of corruption in government and society, without elimination of waste and idleness in government and showing a willingness on its part to receive rewards commensurate to the labour expended as public office holders, all attempts at economic revival will be as pouring water into a basket.
The Legatum Index 2011 (the index measures wealth and wellbeing of global societies) was released in the first week of December 2011 and among the countries high up in the index were the Scandinavian nations of Sweden, Norway and Denmark. One important feature of the societies in these nations is the high degree of trust among its people. This implies that corruption is low and that there is a high regard for humanity.This high value placed on humanity by these societies will  ensure that  a local government chairman in those parts  utilises resources budgeted for  antenatal clinics and primary health care centers judiciously.He will value the life of that pregnant woman and her about to be birthed child more than the pleasures that the funds if stolen could provide. In these parts not so. Our values are misplaced and we adore the material more than our fellow men. This is why expensive jeeps will pass by men and women dying of hunger in rubbish heaps without their occupants batting as much as an eyelid. This why public office holders will send their women overseas to give birth and then shake their heads without empathy when international organizations bemoan the high level  of infant and maternal mortality in Nigeria.

The entrenchment of negative aspects of religion in the Nigerian society and the fact that religion has been so attached to the functions of state is a cause also of some of the callousness exhibited by the Nigerian people. This I shall address later in detail. Suffice for now to know that the teachings of destiny and the superiority of the will of God is reason why many Nigerians can without conscience look away from the extreme sufferings of other people. They will say , ‘it is what God has destined for him’. It is also reason why they will not hold their leaders to account, ‘after all the same God that has blessed the governor today and enabled him to have access to steal the resources of the people will also help me or my children tomorrow to do the same’.
Back to the issue at hand, the leaders of Nigeria can address the issue of unemployment by pursuing any of the following policies:
1)  Revamp the education system
and make it more relevant to churning out youths prepared for the 21st century. India has shown us the way. Its emphasis on  science decades ago is today resulting in a situation where a lot of jobs are being outsourced there from the west today. There is thus a high level of employment generated for its youth today. When however a majority of Nigerian youths have received education in fields that have no relevance to the developmental needs of  the nation and can stand these graduates in no advantage for the challenges of the information era, then it is time we accept that the education industry as presently constituted has failed and needs to be restructured. In restructuring this industry, it is important that emphasis is placed on entrepreneurship and the dignity of merit. Only the best pupils should be promoted and they should have access to grants and endowments. We must accept that while basic education at least up to Junior secondary school should be universal, the skill of the various students should determine how far and to which direction they proceed in the formal education system. Those with flair for science should proceed to senior schools and universities set up to teach science. Those with flair for handicrafts and the technical should  proceed to senior schools and universities set up to teach the technical and vocational. Employment policies should not discriminate on the basis of difference in degrees but emphasis should be on what each person can offer in terms of skill set and imagination. The era of the the universal university will thus be over and universities will be set up with specific focus, as this will help them produce graduates with the requisite skill set for various industries
It is also important that there is more coordination between the education system and the private sector to enable universities produce graduates to meet the needs of the private sector. I will also suggest that there are two layers of universities. The first layer will produce graduates for employment in the private and public industries while the second layer will produce researchers who will expand the frontiers of knowledge relevant to providing answers to challenges of our society. Graduates from this second layer will teach their solutions to graduates of the first layer and private sector industries. In such a way, the the minds of the brightest as identified from the secondary school system can be utilized in generating solutions to challenges of our society.

2) Make use of direct labour and local content in executing public works projects.
This will save foreign exhange, limit capital flight from the economy and improve technical skill set of youths who can then utilise these skills when they set up their companies in the future. For more technical projects a few foreigners can be invited to supervise the local content to execute these projects. By so doing there will be transfer of skills to the local population. Incentives such as tax breaks can also be give to the private sector to encourage them to utilise local content in their economic activities.

3) The government has to make it easier and cheaper for the private sector to start and run business in Nigeria.
A situation when companies are taxed in multiples, where there is no preference given to industries in terms of power supply and provision of infrastructure can not lead to sustainability for private sector businesses. When the private sector cannot sustainably grow its business operations, how can it then survive without laying off workers to cut costs. This is an area the Nigerian government must face with seriousness as it is only private enterprises and the free market that can generate employment in the millions.

4) Promotion of investment in agriculture.
The government should provide generous loans, land and infrastructure ( i.e.homesteads, electricity, water, roads) to youths who will take up farming in industrial scale farm settlements. All loans, land and infrastructure will be paid for by the farmers over the long term and this will ensure that their farming operations are driven by the nature of the free market-profit seeking,high efficiency,accountability etc. It will encourage hard work, independence and entrepreneurship among the youth and in addition increase national annual production of  agricultural stock.

5) Aggressive marketing and incentives to foreign investors to set up agro-processing industries
These industries should meet the needs of the local market first, the regional market next i.e. ECOWAS, the African continent and then other continents.These investors should however be given free hand to determine the end users of their products so as not to stifle their operations.No foreign investors should be allowed to engage in the production of primary goods. This activity should be left to our young people who take up industrial farming. The output from these farms should be supplied to these  agro-processors who should be encouraged to employ other young Nigerians to ensure transfer of skills.

6) Deregulation of the oil, water and power industries will encourage investment in these industries,generate jobs and ensure availability of petroleum products,water and electricity to more Nigerians.
Adverse social effects that may arise- such as increase in prices of petroleum products, electricity and water tariffs can be  mitigated by providing subsidized petroleum products ,electricity and water in the interim through government run fuel stations,electric and water companies. Later on, these subsidized commodities will be replaced with not for profit  petroleum products,electricity and water when the refineries,power and water stations are running properly and have been integrated with their downstream operations. A tax may then be charged on these commodities which will be used to pay workers in these government companies and for purposes of expanding the operations of these companies. It will be necessary to ensure that corruption is eliminated in these government companies and that they function with transparency, so as not to frustrate the end users of their products. If this is done it will provide an alternative and a drag down to the greed and possibilities of run-away pricing of these commodities by the private sector.
The expansion of NNPC mega stations is a step in the right direction if these stations will be made to operate as suggested above and this should be done also to  increase the extent of distribution of water and electricity by the government companies responsible for their provision.

In conclusion, taking from the statement credited to Adam Smith at the start of this discussion, the annual produce of a nation i.e. its GDP will continue to decrease year to year, if the major part of it is consumed by the idle consistently.
This is because there will be no incentive for the the industrious to continue to work and there will be no encouragement to the lazy to become more productive. This has been the situation with Nigeria for several decades and it has  led to the current situation where a vast majority of the population are greedy for the easy wealth of public office and the cheap proceeds of corruption.
The government must understand that the unemployment and the low productivity of the Nigerian people is linked to the injustice of the system of wealth distribution of the state.
She must realize that unless there is a restructuring of the system of  distribution of wealth in the Nigerian society to ensure that the hardworking and enterprising are seen to be well rewarded,  that there will be no incentive to get the Nigerian people especially her youth to look to the rewards of productive enterprise and honest employment. And if this is so, it portends great danger to the security and wellbeing of the Nigerian people and ultimately their continued existence as a nation.

7 thoughts on “Solving Nigeria’s Unemployment Crisis

  1. As concerns the aspect of ‘bad religion’, you promised to talk about it in details later but you didn’t. Pls look into this.

    Now, last but not least, what is needed in Nigeria the most is patriotism: elevating state above self in all things. This is what differentiates the Scandinavians from us. Once upon a time, school pupils were imbibed with the values of being a patriot and being good and honorable citizen. We were once told that the police is our best friend. Citizens saw a good name as better the gold and silver. But nowadays, such ideals have gone to the dogs.

    People these days still want something to believe in; something to hope about. It is time for government, religious organizations, corporate entities and the citizen to carefully plot a way out of the mess that this once great nation has become. Patriotism, above all is needed in our genes once again. It is time to restore our lost pride as a people and a nation.

    A very good and thought-provoking write-up Mr. Bayo, worth implementing.

    1. Dear Alex, I appreciate your steadfast love for the Nigerian state and people. It gives me great comfort to know that we still have patriots in our country today.

      I also thank you for being a keen follower of this blog and assure you of the best in 2012.

      As regards- Religion, it will be the topic of one of the articles to published on this blog soon, so please be on the lookout.

      Patriotism is key no doubt to making this nation great but it is a virtue that does not develop of itself. It is a response of the citizens to the benefits of the state. The Scandinavian nations you mentioned as having patriotic citizens are ”Cradle to Grave” societies. it is little wonder then that they can be patriotic. In Nigeria, this is not so and we can therefore absolve the people of any blame.

      It is important on the other hand to rebuild the social fabric and the value system and to purge governance of greed and selfishness. When this happens the Nigerian people will have regard for life and the general nature of society will improve. It will thus be unnecessary to teach Nigerians to be patriotic.

      Very soon leadership will come to us and it will be our responsibility to be both unselfish and selfless in implementing these ideas for the prosperity of our nation. Until such a time , we must continue to spew forth ideas that can aid our leaders today.

      Happy New Year.

  2. After reading your blog post I browsed your website a bit and noticed you aren’t ranking nearly as well in Google as you could be. I possess a handful of blogs myself and I think you should take a look here: You’ll find it’s a very nice tool that can bring you a lot more visitors. Keep up the quality posts

  3. people like u should be given opportunity to play at least a role in nigeria project with the hope that u will not disappoint us like Reuben Abati. Good luck.

    1. Dear Adesupo,
      Thank you for the recommendation.

      There are much more better men than myself and yet if I am given such an opportunity, I assure you I will not betray the people and what is best for the nation.

      Thank you.

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