Nigeria is a country blessed with human and natural resources, yet these resources are rarely put to good use. Despite having a workforce of over 80 million, unemployment rates still soar.
Since 1999, the rate of unemployment in Nigeria has continued to soar, peaking at 27.1% in 2020, a 4% increase from 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. This would mean that a total of about 22 million Nigerians are unemployed.
This figure surpasses the population of some African countries. Not unexpectedly, the underemployment rate — which reflects those working less than 40 hours a week, or in jobs that undermine a person’s skills, time, or education — also increased to 28.6%. Among Nigerian youths aged 25-34, the largest bloc of the labor force, the unemployment rate is alarmingly higher, at 30.7%.
Why is this so? Let us consider some reasons.
CAUSES OF UNEMPLOYMENT IN NIGERIA
The use of technological devices in daily economic activities has made organizational jobs easier, and as a result, it has continually reduced the number of workers needed for a particular job. For instance, the use of technological gadgets such as Computers and other cashless electronic transactions vis-a-vis the use of Automated Teller Machine (ATM), Online Banking, and the use of Point of Sale (POS) devices has led to reduction of the workforce in the banking and several other industries.
THE INFLUX OF EXPATRIATES
The continued penetration of Nigeria by expatriates has contributed quite negatively to the situation of unemployment. The reason for this influx is a false notion that they possess skills that Nigerian citizens do not. Our youths can easily learn these scalable skills if given adequate support by the Federal Government. These expatriates flood Nigeria competing for works with Nigerians in areas such as – construction sites, factories, auto sales outlets, communications companies, etc.
Another cause of unemployment in Nigeria is the massive rural-urban migration by youths. Over the years, the development pattern in Nigeria has been favorable to urban parts of the nation. This has caused the mass movement of the youths to a few urban centers of Nigeria to search for jobs. This has made urban cities to be congested, hence the shortage of employment. If the youths had remained in the rural area and developed their crafts and skills, they could have contributed to its development and ensured a balance of workforce density in the rural and urban areas.
A secure environment is critical for the nation’s economic development and its absence means that economic growth and development will be impeded. The insecurity of lives and properties has led to the close down or relocation of many businesses in Nigeria. Many businesses in Nigeria, especially in the Northern part of the nation, have been closed down due to the activities of dreaded Boko Haram and it has contributed to the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria. This has caused a high rate of migration to other safer parts of the country. Similarly, cases of armed robbery and kidnapping in the South have adversely affected the development of startups and existing businesses.
Nigeria’s population has seen an unprecedented rise in the last two decades. The high population growth rate has given rise to the rapid growth of the labor force. The 2006 census put Nigeria’s population at 140 million. By 2018, this figure had risen to 184 million people (National Population Commission, 2018) without commensurate economic development due to poor planning by its administrators. The continued increase in population consequently led to the growth of several unemployed youths.
NIGERIA EDUCATIONAL CURRICULUM
The Nigerian educational system is tailored towards white-collar jobs. This has always raised the youths’ expectations that they will easily get government or corporate jobs after their tertiary education. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Therefore, most of the youths lack the skills needed for self-employment but are only pursuing certificates that qualify them for office jobs.
Nigeria has had its fair share of economic recession and is probably still reeling from the effects. The economic recession normally bites hard on the citizens as it affects all the areas of the national economy. The question now is, what has Nigeria done or how has Nigeria affected the lives of the unemployed youths during the economic recession? How have they mitigated the effects of poverty in the most populous country in Africa?
Corruption is one of Nigeria’s major problems, and it plays a critical role in the problem of unemployment that the nation is experiencing. There was a time when Nigeria was counted as the most corrupt nation in Africa. As of 2006, the sum of £20 Billion (about $500 Billion) had been stolen by different Nigerian leaders since independence. In 2014 again, over $20 billion could not be accounted for, which is one of the numerous organizations where corruption is being perpetrated. Similarly, in 2015, Dasuki a former Security Adviser to the government was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in connection with the $2.1 billion arms deal scandal, among many other corruption cases. The embezzled funds could have been used in transforming the nation far better than European nations where Nigerians are now running for green pastures.
Firstly, Nigeria must learn to properly harness its human resources. In a digital age such as this, more focus should be on the acquisition of soft skills, which are in high demand worldwide. We must train and sensitize our youths on the need to drop the mindset of white-collar jobs being the reason for education and embrace the advent of a digital world.
Also, the Nigerian Government must play its constitutional role by creating a sustainable socio-economic and socio-political environment including providing infrastructure to make the industrial climate investment-friendly. This will greatly encourage investors to capitalize on opportunities, thereby creating jobs to absorb the unemployed youths.
If the youths are massively equipped with valuable trade and entrepreneurial skills in Automobile, Agricultural production, and processing, integrated science clinic, computer, and information technology among others, there will be a visible change in the work availability. Nigeria is blessed with massive human, natural, and mineral resources and the strategic implementation of actionable policies will greatly reduce the rate of unemployment.