If you are Nigerian and live in Nigeria, and a youth, great chances are that you have heard it– “there are no jobs in the country; the unemployment rate is growing; let’s embrace agriculture”. Those are the recent cries as far as job attainment and creation goes in the country. For most Nigerians, what these words represent is just an echo of a national pain that did not originate with them. They had no hand in creating the situation. Now they have to suffer from failures of their forebears.
Today’s unemployment in Nigeria is a result of yesterday’s policy decisions which focused too strongly on academic attainment and less on technical or vocational skills. Now, after many years of neglecting technical education infrastructure in favour of academic ones, the chickens have come home to roost. For nine consecutive quarters of a year up till the third quarter in 2017, unemployment rate has been rising, with a much more dramatic rise during the last economic recession that ended in early 2017. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reports an 18.9% unemployment rate for Q3 of 2017, rising from 14.5% of late 2016. These are the latest figures from the NBS, who define an unemployed person as one working less than 20 hours a week and those doing absolutely nothing. Nigeria currently has about 85.08 million persons in its labour force, and out of this number, 7.53 million are doing absolutely nothing; add that to the 8.46 million working below 20 hours a week, and we have 16 million Nigerians who are unemployed.
Then there are the underemployed Nigerians, who the NBS describe as people who work 20-39 hours, or those who work beyond that but are doing jobs not commensurate with their qualification and skills, and the tally for them is 18.02 million persons, representing 21.2% underemployment. This leaves just half of Nigerians as workforce with gainful pay. But this groups still have many worries, being tackled by a very low standard of living, and pension and insurance schemes that are grossly unreliable.
Nigeria’s troubles may seem overwhelming and insurmountable. But they can be solved, and the key to solving them lie in an inclusive democratic governance model. It will require more transparency in the electoral process to ensure that right candidates come into leadership positions. Certain qualities should make a person right for public service. They are sincerity in duty, selfless service, goodwill to all men, a heart of patriotism, true empathy from government towards its citizens, and fairness to all men, no matter who they are. These solutions rest heavily on the government, but are not at all limited to the government.
A good government will work using a mix of strategies to bring growth and development.
A key component necessary to foster development is infrastructure provisioning. The Alternative Party will work to improve infrastructure by specifically:
Fixing the electricity problem to provide a solid basis for industrialization
Fixing and creating access roads. Not just roads, but access roads that cut across settlements. Also, establishing tollgates for heavy-duty vehicles.
Working on the Nigerian rail system, and introducing the tram. This way, heavy reliance on tankers and big trucks for interstate goods transport will be heavily lowered.
Adopt a house-to-house gas distribution system. This will mightily reduce retail gas prices, and make it more accessible. Of course, this means stopping gas flaring and learning to use flared gas and produced gas. This in turn requires very functional gas refineries.
Adjust foreign investment policies to attract foreign companies who provide services not present in the country, as against foreign companies who provide services that Nigerians are very familiar with, thus ending up profiteering form the nation’s workforce and not paying attention to Corporate Social Responsibility towards host communities.
Encourage young entrepreneurs who want to go into industry by providing all the things listed in the previous point, and as well:
Sustainable Capital Funding, either through grants, partnerships, or lease.
Establishing training camps and hubs where people of common interest can come together, get up to date with new technologies, form think-tanks, and partnerships.
Working on the national minimum wage to match apparent standard of living and economy. This goes a long way to encourage those who do absolutely nothing to start doing something.
Improving education standards by pouring most of the national revenue to the education sector, to school-building, facilities-provision and maintenance, and rigorous educator-trainings with focus on the ability to educate (the skills of knowledge-impartation) as against the ability to know about the subject one is to teach. Effective education is the bedrock of a fine student, and the skilled worker he or she is to become in future.
Adjusting university, college and technical tertiary institution curricula to focus and imbibe incorporating active vocational skills acquisition camps and classes that are related to subjects being taught (not just test practical classes) to the students’ training. This will produce a student who not only knows the subject, but can perform the subject in a practical world.
Focus education on job-creation, not job-seeking. This will rapidly boost the currently low self-employment culture in the nation.
Heavily encourage micro-employments at personal and family levels, and not just when the youth leaves college, but right from primary schools. It creates a job culture in the mind of the child, and a willingness to give back to society by creating service and employing gainful help to aid him or her.