Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation is currently combating a myriad of problems threatening its very existence. Insurgency and banditry in the North, herdsmen/farmers crises in the middle-belt and secessionist calls in the South. These issues are some of the underlying factors behind the rising rate of unemployment in the country. For a country with a youthful population to be grappling with a 33.3 (fourth quarter 2020), the second-highest in the world is seriously concerning. The situation must be arrested soonest and some possible steps to achieve this are suggested here but first, what are the causes of unemployment in Nigeria?
Causes of Unemployment in Nigeria
- Inconsistency in Government Policy
This is common with developing countries like Nigeria. Government policy is often inconsistent and changes frequently with little or no notice. This creates a risky business environment and does not boost investors’ confidence. Thus the country may find it difficult to draw much needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to stimulate economic growth and increase job creation.
- Ease of Doing Business
Contrary to what the government will have you believe, doing business in Nigeria is far from easy. While improvement has been made in some areas such as business registration, the business environment in Nigeria is generally not friendly. Multiple taxations, epileptic power supply, endemic corruption, inflation, port congestion, bad roads and so on are some of the challenges businesses have to contend with in Nigeria. These challenges have proven insurmountable for many businesses, leading to their folding up or relocation to other businesses. As a result, jobs are lost, fueling unemployment.
- Epileptic Power Supply
Nigeria has a power supply issue that is unexpected of a country of its stature. That a country of over 200 million inhabitants utilizes under 6000MW of power is mind-boggling. Businesses in Nigeria have to generate their power which is usually more expensive and drives up the cost of production. The lack of a regular power supply in the country makes Nigeria less attractive to foreign investors. Thus investors who would naturally have preferred to come into Nigeria to do business look to other countries with more constant electricity. This impacts job creation.
- Endemic Corruption
That Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries in the world is no longer news. Despite the best efforts of the current government through its anti-corruption campaign, the level of corruption in the country continues to increase. One of the offshoots of corruption is unemployment and this is manifesting in Nigeria. Corruption leads to bad public infrastructures, multiple taxations and so on which make it difficult for businesses to thrive. As a result of corruption, some businesses go under, leading to job losses.
Nigeria is currently plagued with some security challenges such as insurgency in the North, farmers/herdsmen clashes in the middle-belt, growing calls for secession in Southeast and Southwest, and kidnapping. As a result of these security challenges, many jobs have been lost and businesses forced to close. Many people have been displaced and some farmers can no longer visit their farmlands.
- Poor Quality of Education/ Lack of skill
The quality of education in Nigeria has been steadily declining over the years. The effect of this is that some jobs that should have been handled by locals are being carried out by foreigners who are better qualified or meet the required skill level.
- Uncontrolled Population Growth
Population growth must be matched by increased job creation. When there is a wide disparity between the population growth rate and the rate at which new jobs are created, the unemployment rate will inevitably increase.
With some of the causes of unemployment in Nigeria discussed above, here are possible solutions.
Solution to Unemployment in Nigeria
- Overhaul of the Academic Curriculum/Skills Acquisition Programs
A revamp of the country’s academic curriculum should be carried out. A new curriculum that captures modern realities and compares favourably with those of leading countries globally should be developed. This will make graduates of our institutions of learning more employable and able to deliver expected results in job roles they take on.
- Industrialization Drive
The most obvious solution to the problem of unemployment in Nigeria is massive industrialization. Nigeria has no near enough industries for a country of its stature. As an import nation, we are effectively creating jobs in the countries we import from. By producing locally, the things we can produce, we are keeping the jobs at home and giving more of our people opportunities to earn a living. Creating industries to produce things we are capable of producing locally is the way forward.
- Population Control
Uncontrolled population growth can have serious consequences, one of which is a possible increase in the rate of unemployment as there will be more people fighting for limited resources. Government must take firm action to control population growth as a way to combat unemployment.
- Reduction in The Level of Corruption
The fight against corruption must be taken seriously so that government investments in public infrastructure and other facilities that can stimulate economic growth bear needed results.
- Improvement of Public Infrastructure
A good road network and constant electricity supply are some of the drivers of economic growth. Nigeria is lacking in this area and urgent action is needed on the part of the government to improve this.
- Consistency in Government Policy
Government must be consistent with its policies as this will create a sense of stability and inspire investors’ confidence. Constantly changing policies will create the impression that there is a lack of direction and investors will generally steer clear of such an environment.
- Attractive Business Environment
The government should make the business environment more attractive for investors to come in. One of the ways the government can do this is to provide more forex for businesses to import raw materials for production. The government can also grant tax holidays to businesses subject to meeting some requirements.
- Agricultural Sector Reform
The agricultural industry is currently the second-largest employer of labour in Nigeria. Interestingly, the industry can employ more hands. Government must endeavour to make agriculture more attractive so that more youths consider taking agric jobs.
- Improvement in Security
Nigeria is currently battling some security challenges that it must overcome as soon as possible. All hands must be on deck to ensure that these security issues become a thing of the past and that people can go about their lawful businesses without fear of being kidnapped or attacked by insurgents and herdsmen.
Conclusion on Solution to Unemployment in Nigeria
Solving Nigeria’s unemployment problem requires taking some urgent actions, some of which have been highlighted above. It is my belief that if some of the suggestions given here are followed, the unemployment rate in Nigeria will reduce.