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The jagbajantis of Nigeria’s GDP

By Chioma Gabriel

Ordinarily, I  have no cause to pay serious attention to the lyrics of some of the songs released by the young generation of Nigerians because of their tendency to be  lurid.
But when Sound Sultan, real names, Olanrewaju Fasasi released his first single many years ago titled Mathematics, I was entranced  by the lyrics.

The song became an instant hit. Sound Sultan tried to capture the Nigerian situation in that song which would have been more appropriate for this chorus of Nigeria’s economy  being  the largest  in Africa. Who cares? What difference does that make in the life of the average Nigerian. Has that put food on the table  of the poor?

Has it created employment  for the multitude of young jobless Nigerians everywhere? Has this jagbajantis about  Nigeria’s  Gross Domestic Product being the largest in Africa improved power supply, re-resuscitated our refineries  or brought the moribund government parastatals back to life?

Part of the chorus of the song says:
Everybody join to solve mathematics , solve jagbajantis
wey dey dabaru our continent
Oyinbo say na BODMAS
we go use to solve mathematics, solve jagbajantis
Oya carry biro
B for brotherhood, love your neighbour as you love yourself, o tan o
O for objectivity, be objective in your way o
D for democracy…

Olarenwaju Fasasi a.k.a Sound Sultan released his first single, Jagbajantis, in 2000 and till date, quite a number of people can still recall the lyrics, hence a classic and since then, he has managed to remain consistent and relevant enough to release album after album.

Maybe, Sound Sultan is a prophet. It was as if he understood that today  we would be battling to solve the jagbajantis or mathematics called Nigeria’s new GDP. How in the world would you explain Nigeria’s new GDP in the midst of scarcity of every good thing  that life has to offer Nigerians?

Nigerians are very lively people with  high intelligent quotient. We have a way of explaining off every woe .
So, what’s the big deal about our GDP being the largest in Africa? What has it added to our pockets? Does the large GDP provide money for your child’s school fees or pay your rent when it is due?

As I tried to unravel this grammar of being the largest in Africa, many things came to my mind. Many young Nigerians including pregnant women who went job-hunting at Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, did not return from it alive. What difference did Nigeria having the largest GDP in Africa make in their lives?

On the front page of Vanguard newspaper of Thursday, April 10 was a picture of a young Nigerian by name Sunday Omotayo, a graduate of Mechanical Engineering from Ekiti State University trying to commit suicide on Government House road,Uyo Akwa Ibom state.

The picture clearly shows that Sunday Omotayo was trendily dressed before stepping out for job-hunting. He might have borrowed the suit and the tie he wore that day and might have borrowed money for transportation but didn’t get the job. His hope of getting the job must have been high but he didn’t succeed.

In this era of agencies collecting money from jobless graduates with a promise of job offer, Omotayo might have paid through his nose to agents to help make way for him in the employment industry. But his dreams died. And there was no hope that he would get any job soonest or repay the money he has been borrowing for transportation while job-hunting.

And who knows for how many years he has been jobless after graduating as a Mechanical Engineer and how many people  were depending on him to take the mantle of responsibility in their family after getting a job?
What about the stress his parents  passed through to see him  through the university so that at least, if they could not leave an inheritance for him, the education they gave him would secure his future and pave way for him to take care of his siblings.

He could perhaps have been trained through community efforts and those who contributed money for his education would have lost hope in the ability that the bright Sunday Omotayo would be the messiah and the role model of youths in his community. That dream is dying and the young man obviously feeling the  disappointment, decided to end it all. What did our large GDP do for him and the several other Sunday Omotayos out there?

Every year, universities churn out fresh graduates who embrace freedom from the university with hope of immediate employment but these young Nigerians watch their dreams die. Parents heave a sigh of relief each time their child graduates but who can imagine the disappointment of learning you’d continue to harbour and feed that adult child several years after?

Faulty manpower planning, economic recession, the collective bargaining process, graduate attitude to some types of jobs  as well as search behaviour of employers and job seekers; use of capital intensive technology , wide rural- urban migration , formal – informal sectors differentials amongst other factors have been identified to contribute to the causes of graduate unemployment in Nigeria.

Has our large GDP made any difference and how do you explain to these unemployed young people  that Nigeria has the largest economic growth in Africa?  In what economic terms would that be  explained to a graduate who has been jobless for years or an artisan who has not opened his shop for months because even when he is self-employed, he is incapacitated by lack of consistent power supply?

How does this economic growth affect the lives of the graduate scavenger, bus driver, bus conductor and others?
At this juncture, shouldn’t there be a review of past employment policies of the Federal Government to ascertain why government policies and programmes fail? Is it not as a result of  managerial incapability,  unaccountability, low quality of training , inadequate funding, policy inconsistency, poor governance and ineffective targeting of beneficiaries?

Indeed, Nigeria’s  economic growth must be made employment intensive and  all the economic players such as the government, the private sector, workers, private individuals as well as non-governmental organisations must pursue policies and programmes that would attain this objective.

Nigeria should wake up to the fact that short and long-term measures must be taken in the promotion of informal micro and small-scale sector enterprises; promotion of entrepreneurship culture through entrepreneurship development programmes; accelerating the growth rate of the agricultural sector, linking education and training with labour market requirements; promotion of enterprise culture which will induce self-reliance and creating a national environment which rewards effort and initiative; self-employment and curriculum re-engineering.

Whether we believe it or not, graduate unemployment poses the greatest risk to Nigeria’s existence. National economic growth has not tackled the scourge in any way.
Nigerians from different walks of life have been trying to explain the implication of Nigeria having the largest Gross Domestic Product, GDP,  but the rest of us are asking, where is the growth? Many are celebrating but the truth is that we are living in bondage  in the midst of plenty.

Is it that  our dear country has no strategic developmental planning; that what we have adopted over the years is more or less adhocism as national development plan?

Why is it that what we flaunted as national development is usually never implemented and these plans are empty of social content.  Why are we allowing religious intolerance, more than ethnicism as the greatest threat to national unity, existence and development? Why are the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor and why  is graduate unemployment  very much on the rise?

Why is the country not  having strategic alignment with the universities as trainers of skill  for the industries, and also having national planning activities through which to identify the number of graduates each year by classification, by specialization, then identifying where they are likely to be channeled in terms of gainful employment?

From all ramifications,  graduate unemployment  seems to have exceeded 50 percent and after idling about for years, do we expect  these youths to continue to be good citizens?  Are the minds of these youths nationally developed? Do they still have faith in the enterprise called Nigeria? Do they still have  passion for national feeling?

Crimes of different dimensions, digital and non- digital crimes are  springing up by the day and the latest is the springing up of  ethnic militias. Kidnapping has become the favourite past-time of many.
This talk about Nigeria having the largest economy should be translated down to the level of the common man.

The long grammar should be made simple in their terms and one of the ways of doing so is to create a state of emergency on graduate unemployment by getting every local government area to at least generate not less than 500 jobs annually, to mandate every state to generate not less than 2,000 jobs annually and the federal government to generate not less 300,000 jobs annually and begin to think of how to revive the manufacturing

industries and how to begin to strengthen the  creation of social opportunities to address the present dangers because if these continue unchecked,  Nigeria will lose part of its greatest assets which are the youths.
It is only from the media that we read about efforts being made to create jobs for Nigerians. But these efforts hardly translate to reality . It is on record that over  83,000 unemployed Nigerian graduates have registered

with the Graduate Internship Scheme of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).  The Scheme is reportedly  processing the release of 1000 graduates to serve as interns at many government parastatals. Many other firms all over the country have keyed into the project and are requesting for these interns to join them.

According to reports, about 1800 firms have reportedly registered with the scheme since inception, out of which 288 have been approved to make requests for interns and about  800 interns have been picked by these firms.  But has this Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS)  addressed the scourge of unemployment?

How does $509.9bn economic growth affect the life of the ordinary Nigerian? What is the impact of this economic growth without real economic developmental impact on the ordinary man? Has this growth in the economy tackled poverty, illiteracy? How does it affect the 170million Nigerians in their different quests to excel in life?

It’s good enough that we developed over the years and that Nollywood is beyond just entertainment but contributing avidly to Nigeria’s economic growth. Nollywood ranks next to Hollywood the world over  and that is cheery despite the scandals in the industry.  It also feels good to know that despite the lurid lyrics being churned out by our young entertainers, that is also translating to economic growth of our GDP.

But should we be talking about economic growth when things are not working?There are no improved services or quality of life and the power sector seems to have gone beyond repair. Of course, it is not doubtful that we consume a lot as a country  because of our population but there are still more questions than answers.  Indeed, there is no big deal about this. With Nigeria’s highly unproductive youths, largest economy appears to mock us as a nation rather cheer us.

C’est la question ici .
That is what we are talking about.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.