By Tamuzalo Akuchi
The rate of unemployment in Nigeria has been in ascending order decades past despite efforts by government at all levels surmounting policies and programmes in reducing the threat of the social-economic disorder.
The World Bank has recently in a new report stated that Nigeria is going through one of its worst unemployment crises in recent times.
The multilateral institution also noted that the socio-economic challenges facing Nigerians in the last 10 years have led to an astronomical increase in the number of citizens seeking asylum and refugee status in other countries.
The report, which expressed concern about the country’s rising unemployment situation, was published by the Washington-based institution with support from the Korea World Bank Partnership Facility (KWPF) and the Rapid Social Response (RSR) trust funds.
In the report titled: ‘Of Roads Less Travelled: Assessing the Potential for Migration to Provide Overseas Jobs for Nigeria’s Youth’, the World Bank further estimated that there were 2.1 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria in 2020 alone.
The World Bank, however, blamed a combination of rising unemployment, booming demographics, and unfulfilled aspirations as resulting in increasing pressure on young Nigerians to migrate in search of gainful employment overseas.
According to the bank, the recent rise in irregular migration notwithstanding, the share of international migrants in Nigeria’s population was much lower compared to the shares in Sub-Saharan Africa and globally.
It noted that although the country was reaping dividends from the success of its citizens in the diaspora, which was put at five per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2019, when it comes to the discourse on international migration, the narrative has not been palatable.
“Nigeria is facing one of the most acute jobless crises in recent times. Between 2014 and 2020, Nigeria’s working age population grew from 102 million to 122 million, growing at an average rate of approximately 3 per cent per year.
“Similarly, Nigeria’s active labour force population, that is, those willing and able to work among the working age population, grew from 73 million in 2014 to 90 million in 2018, adding 17.5 million new entrants to Nigeria’s active labour force.
“Since 2018, however, the active labour force population has dramatically decreased to around 70 million lower than the level in 2014 while the number of Nigerians who are in the working-age population but not active in the labour force has increased from 29 million to 52 million between 2014 and 2020.
“The expanding working-age population combined with scarce domestic employment opportunities is creating high rates of unemployment, particularly for Nigeria’s youth,” the World Bank report noted.
However, between 2010 and 2020, the international financial institution estimated that the unemployment rate rose five-fold, from 6.4 per cent in 2010 to 33.3 per cent in 2020, with the rates being particularly acute since the 2015/2016 economic recession and further worsened as COVID-19 led to the worst recession in four decades in 2020.
Increasingly, it noted that educated Nigerians were struggling to find employment opportunities in the country while unemployment rates increased substantially for Nigerians across all education levels over the years, becoming progressively challenging for educated Nigerians to find employment opportunities.
In averting the scourges of unemployment, the government must do more in training entrepreneurs instead of allowing unemployed graduates to search for jobs that are not there. For example, the National Youths Service Corp program (NYSC) could become a one-year entrepreneurial training program for all graduates who will pass out to create jobs. In addition, the government can set up an internet business by becoming a blogger, website designer, and copywriter, to reduce unemployment in Nigeria.
The government should imbibe expansionary fiscal policy which occurs when the government reduces tax and spends more money to make the economy grow. Because of this growth in the economy, individuals and firms have more money to spend, which raises output. This increase in production adds to growth and lowers unemployment in the economy.
Capital is crucial for any business to survive so companies must borrow at sensible interest rates to make the profit. The monetary policy makes it easy for companies to plan the time to borrow from their banks and do so when interest rates are low.
Getting a loan enlarges their business, which increases output and profit, and helps these companies create more jobs. Apparently, the Central Bank and Nigeria Monetary Policy are geared toward provision of capitals for business proposals by companies and individual businesses.
Here, the government can disburse money to micro finance banks for lending to market women, petty traders, and artisans to stimulate economic growth. How it will work is that the bank will ask these people to form cooperative societies, to enable members to get small loans to expand their businesses.
The cooperative societies will act as a guarantor for members to ensure borrowers repay the loans. This plan can help many poor Nigerians become self-reliant and as their business grows; they will create jobs to reduce unemployment.
Finding reveals that agriculture is the second largest employer of labor in Nigeria. The agro allied value chain can become the hub for creating more jobs for Nigerians. Let us use a recent case to support this claim. For example, in December 2016, the Lagos state government sold Lake Rice to Lagos residents.
This happened due to a deal between Kebbi and Lagos State for the production of Lake Rice brand, and this alliance created many jobs. Imagine that all states in the country copy this example, and produce one agric commodity; this would not only reduce unemployment but feed the country as well.
More so, the government should encourage professional education so graduates can become employers to reduce unemployment in Nigeria. For example, a lawyer could specialize in corporate or marine law. These professionals may work in public service or set up their own practice and employ individuals to work for them. Education is supposed to set people free from poverty. Educated people, especially professionals, are assets to the nation.
Although the government has failed to fund the education sector, which has led universities to turn out half-baked graduates with little chance to secure employment.
But that can be corrected when universities, colleges and polytechnics change curriculums to introduce subjects to train undergraduates for skills that are lacking, but essential for the labor market of today.
The present limited curriculum must change to add subjects such as cybernetics and robotics, computer animation, web courses, data capture, and other technology courses.
If we implement this change, graduates will become qualified for positions in the current labor market and reduce unemployment in Nigeria.
Unemployment is a ticking time bomb, which it must not allow to explode beyond its current state. Let all join hands to provide jobs for unemployed people, mostly made up of youths if Nigeria wishes to avert insecurity and gain development.