When will the drum beats of revolution start in Nigeria?

on   /   in Broken Links 1:11 am   /   Comments

When some of us were in secondary school, a grade one WAEC certificate will make you unacceptable for employment in a Nigerian bank and most companies in Nigeria.

*Protesters in support of CP Mbu demonstrating on the Aba road in Port Harcourt, yesterday

The thinking then was that with grade one, the holder will in a matter of one year gain admission into the university. There was no need to waste resources training him. Those who got jobs easily in banks in those days were WAEC certificate holders of grade three. Also during the same period, a degree from any Nigerian university was a precious possession. Employers of labour in Nigeria questioned many of the certificates obtained by those who went abroad especially to the USA to study.

While at the University of Benin in the late 70s to early 80s, a lecturer who had his PhD from an American university was forced out of our class because he could not stand the demand for advanced macro-economics. She entered the class one fateful Monday and said; ‘You know all of us cannot be good in calculation.

Before she finished the sentence, the class rose in unison and asked her what she was doing there if she could not express her know-how in figures. That day, the class met with the HOD and she was removed from the class.

Twenty-five years down the line, the situation has changed dramatically and the reverse is the case. Banks are now asking for second class upper or first class degrees as minimum job entry requirement.

They are also demanding that such graduates should not be older than 26 years. Now, Nigerian graduates are not even acceptable for employment in Nigeria. American degrees that were looked down upon 25 years ago are what most employers are now searching for.

It is not that there are no jobs in the country; it is the lack of the required skills that has prevented many Nigerians from accessing jobs. There are several banks and companies employing people with requisite skills from abroad.

The question is; how did we come so low in value while others have improved so much? So much that jobs are now only available to relations of the dead? What a tragedy! Each year, Nigerian leaders tout figures of economic growth of about six or seven per cent, but the level of unemployment keeps rising by the day.

Perhaps, many have thought that the unemployment situation was exaggerated by media hype until Saturday when 4,000 job openings in Nigeria Immigration Service, attracted over 60,000 applicants for a written test in Abuja alone.

Maybe the Minister of Internal Affairs wanted this government to see the magnitude of the unemployment issue in Nigeria, by allowing all the applicants to show up the same day for the test. Or how else can it be explained that any reasonable employer will gather that number in a stadium to write a test? Did the minister have any sense of crowd behaviour?

The unfortunate event brings to mind the 2012 lamentation of President Goodluck Jonathan. On that occasion, he had lamented the growing unemployment situation in the country stating that it may lead to some social unrest in the near future.

Every Nigerian, in low or high places, knows this simple fact. This government has not shown to the people anything that will suggest that it is tackling unemployment.

What Nigerians need to see is how far this administration has gone to tackle the problem. Since the days of the ill-fated Structural Adjustment Programme, or the Shehu Shagari Austerity Measures of 1982, unemployment has been a phenomenon that has refused to go away in Nigeria.

Unemployment in Nigeria has become one of the most critical problems the country is facing. Many years of corruption, mismanagement of the economy, civil war, military rule, etc., have hindered economic development of the country. Nigeria is endowed with diverse and infinite resources, both human and material.

However, years of negligence and adverse policies have led to the under-utilisation of these resources. This is one of the primary causes of unemployment in the country.

Analysis of employment data shows that the rate of new entrants into the labour market has not been uniform. The rate was on the increase from 2007 to 2009 but declined significantly between 2009 and 2010. The rate increased again from 2010 to date. Within the period, there has been an average of about 1.8 million new entrants into the active labour market per year.

In 2011, Nigeria’s estimated population stood at 164.3 million, 92.3 million are said to be economically active, labour force – 67.25 million, employed – 51.18 million, unemployed – 16.07 million and newly employed – 2.13 million. 2010 statistics showed that about 10 million Nigerians were unemployed in Nigeria as at March, 2009. The 2011 survey showed that the national unemployment rate is 23.9 per cent compared to 21.1 per cent in 2010 and 19.7 per cent in 2009.

The Federal Government since 2009 has been singing the tune of tackling unemployment but so far, there has been no serious sign of improvement. Today in Nigeria, almost half of 15-24 year olds living in urban areas are jobless, yet reducing unemployment and enhancing economic productivity are top priorities for the National Economic Management team.

It is sad that year in, year out, billions are budgeted for recurrent with little for capital expenditure that will lead to job creation. Fortunately, the buck stops at the President’s table.

He is the one who has the key to unlock and unleash the nation’s economic potentials for the benefit of all Nigerians. The President has no one to cry to other than putting on a thinking cap and getting the job of the office of the President done creditably.

With what happened that Saturday, Nigeria is ripe for a change, a revolution. Who will cast the first stone for the drum of revolution to sound?

 

    Print       Email