Youth Unemployment And The Crisis Within By Yahaya Mohammed Usman
Over the years most government both at the federal and state levels have laid claim to their effort at creating jobs for the Nigerian youth, these efforts are at best could be described as too little too late, especially considering geometrical growth of the Nigerian population and the deliberate neglect of infrastructure particularly electricity.
With a population of over 160 million people and a less than 12 hours a day electricity, it is only predictable that, that system is heading for a crises. Small and medium size businesses are doomed and the largest chunk of the society will be unemployed as these SMEs are the largest employers of labour with over 80 Percent of every country’s population relying on them for livelihood while the like of infrastructure like road totally cuts off the rural communities where more than 85 percent of Nigerians live.
Over the years, especially in northern Nigeria our over reliance on western educational system has also not helped the situation either, unlike in the southwest where every person no matter the desire to acquire western education is enrolled at least in one vocation or technical skills training, this is why the Yoruba speaking people are synonymous with workshops.
Today as it stands if the Yoruba vulcanizers are to proceed on a strike, residents of Minna will be faced with a serious challenge of where to fix their flat tyres because the Gwaris, Nupes and the Hausawas have made pride and pompous a stock of live that their youth will rather go from office to office begging than learn any trade.
The political class have also not helped one bit, with the level of corruption and outright stealing of the commonwealth by politicians and their cronies, little is left for any meaningful development especially in terms of creating an enabling environment and the necessary impetus for the SMEs to thrive, the political class have also not thought it wise to make policies that will enhance local production, imagine Nigeria with quantum of crude it exports, cannot refine for its consumption, this is foolishness! Yet a certain voodoo statistic is been revealed that makes Nigeria the biggest economy in Africa, biggest in consumption I guess. No amount of statistics will convince Nigerians, except they can see food on their table period!
The recent botched immigration recruitment exercise brought out the level of crises Nigeria is facing with youth unemployment, with over 6 million applicants applying for just over 4000 slots. But that is not all, the rise in crime is not just associated with indocritination but largely due to youth unemployment, yet this numbers are expected to rise with statistics released by government showing that over 10 million children are out there begging away their future as Almajiris.
Of this 10 million, if nothing is done urgently more than three quarter of them will end up growing to be eighteen with no education and no skills at all, this is a veritable breeding ground for criminals and what worth note.
With agencies like NDE and NAPEP one wonders if the Nigerian government is serious at tackling unemployment, these agencies have only served as conduit pipe for stealing and milking government dry. As I write this piece I challenge any government office to showcase any tangible achievement made by these agencies as against amount of monies pumped into them.
The most credible and reliable massive yet, untapped source of employment for Nigerian youth are agriculture and the SMEs. Agriculture has the capacity to keep all youth employed, if the necessary input is made imagine the vision of late Audu Bako of Kano state, who saw to the development of the river basin of Hadejia and Jama’are, this basin provide farmers of Jigawa and Kano, to Makarfi and Zaria with source of livelihood all round the year, today this axis of Nigeria is the largest supplier of tomatoes, pepper and most vegetables products consumed across the country. This is just the vision of an individual then.
The following report by the national technical committee on the vision 2020 on the SMEs sector in Nigeria puts it succinctly:
”…There is generally a dearth of statistics on SME in Nigeria in terms of their current status to be able to project based on baseline information so it was necessary to make some assumptions on realistic goals/ targets for the sector.
On the surface, some of the targets set for the sector within the visioning period may appear rather too high or overambitious. Therefore, it needs to be registered upfront that the choice of these targets, far from being arbitrary, were reasoned out based on three critical considerations, namely:
i. Observed trends in SME role and performance level in both comparable and more advanced economies points to attainment levels at least as high as the rates by which Nigeria is now being challenged to attain within the visioning period.
For example, when we consider Nigeria’s proposed SME target contribution of 50% to GDP by 2015 and 75% by 2020, its realism can be tested against the current contributions of the sector in the following sample of countries: USA-48%, India-40%, Belgium-70%, Malaysia-57.4, China 58.5%.
Currently, Nigeria’s SMEs are guesstimated to contribute 30-40% of well below the average for the economies she wants to rub shoulders with by 2020. The key message is that these projected challenging rates are either embraced or the visioning ambition downgraded.
ii. The ambition of national vision attainment is taken as non-negotiable and must be realized. This throws up the challenge of the goals specified for Nigeria indeed as they represent the minimum level Nigeria must realize if the vision is to have meaning at the end of the day.
iii. The targets for the sector had to be set bearing in mind the plans for accelerating growth in other countries grouped in the category of the 20 most industrialized nations, especially the Asian tigers, on their path to 2020″
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