Is The Bank Of Job Opportunities In Nigeria Really Bankrupt?
How many of us ever turn up for a job interview we were expecting to be the only interviewee or worst still one among just few people only to be greeted by a mammoth of interviewees in their tens or hundreds all for that one vacancy we thought is nothing but a last resort?
Imagine turning up for an interview for the position of an office assistant in a relatively small mobile phone retail shop and then meeting as much as over 30 fellow job-seekers clutching on their certificates (HND and B.Sc.) all grim-facedly waiting to jostle this vacancy with you. As a fresh graduate, looking at gloomy faces of seasoned job-seekers is ominous on its own. Over 30 applicants for one vacancy! What happens to those that will be left behind? A continued endless job-hunt, apparently.
The jostling that eventually led to the death of some people at the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment exercise few months ago might feel distant to some, but reminiscing on our various experiences of job-hunting might perhaps make us to conclude with bitterness in our hearts that this country is a failing state. From a lay-man's perspective, a nation is failing if it is unable to provide basic amenities for its citizens and from all indications, Nigeria scores high marks in inability to provide basic amenities like job opportunities, security, health, to mention but a few.
Statistically, according to a 2012 report of the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), more than half, about 54 percent of youth population in Nigeria is unemployed. This is not including a large percentage of those that are underemployed and/or exploited in their workplaces. With such statistics staring at us, only a myopic few that perhaps are living in grandeur of affluence will not see the looming calamity that waits to befall a society with this high level of idle youthful hands.
To say the least, the rate of unemployment in Nigeria in this 21st century is terrifying. Perhaps no single incidence has painted this grim picture better than the NIS recruitment scandal. Yet the rates keep on rising without any palpable effort to curtail the effects. While still trying to grapple with this sickening situation, Financial Derivatives Company Limited (FDC), a Lagos-based financial advisory firm stated that the rate of unemployment in the country is expected to increase further by two percent this year.
Sadly, different academic studies have revealed that widespread poverty, youth restiveness, insecurity, increasing spate of insurgency, high rate of social vices and criminal activities are prevalent because of joblessness among youth who accounts for over half of Nigeria's population, and if not curtailed or controlled, apathy, cynicism (which is now the order of the day on social media) and revolution might eventually become the consequential effects.
A blogger argued that it is perhaps true that the absorptive capacity of the labour market in Nigeria has significantly shrunk, making it increasingly difficult for graduates to secure job. Yet, Nigerian youths rightfully refuse to believe that the bank of job opportunities in Nigeria is bankrupt; we refuse to believe that there are insufficient vacancies in the great vault of opportunities in this nation. A country where minute minorities are living in great affluence while the majority of its citizens are living in abject penury is inviting doom on itself. As evidential with trends on social media, revolution of the mind is already on ground and actively running. When the mind is revolutionized and the situation on ground refuses to changed, physical revolution becomes inevitable.
The government might argue the case of entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment problem in Nigeria, yet they forget that to become self-employed is capital intensive which is not always at the disposal of all and sundry. Unarguably, the YouWin scheme (and others) is churning out capital to youths so as to become self-employed, but how many really have access to this opportunity? And as the saying goes 'a rich man with a thousand poor relatives is also a poor man'. Even when capitals are made available, entrepreneurship in most cases is a long term commitment that does not yield instant profit and have little or no guarantee of success. As usual, in Nigeria it is who you know that determines what you get even when you deserve it.
The issue of unemployment has been on the lips of everyone in the national discourse and yet the government appears to be paying lip-service to rectifying this anomaly. Public analysts have argued that taking as example the education sector where some lecturers are teaching in more than one university/polytechnic or where most lecturers are saddled with as much as five courses per session, government in its capacity can double the numerical staff of the existing workers. But why is this not forthcoming?
It will suffice to reaffirm that Nigerians do not buy the tale of government inability to absorb those with merit in its parastatals. It is believed that the jobs are there if not for the fraudulent intent by some of the people in charge. Otherwise, how best do you describe a situation where there are ghosts on payrolls and actively alive citizens are roaming the streets unemployed?
Clement Adebayo Oloyede is a graduate of the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano. [email protected]