By Yinka Adeosun
The reality of unemployment has reverberated in recent recruitment exercises by various agencies of the Federal Government. Over 300,000 applicants had indicated interest for 3000 vacancies in the Navy. The police website crashed in less than 24 hours due to heavy traffic of applicants.
Within three weeks, over 550,000 applicants had indicated interest in 10,000 jobs in Nigerian Police, while there are still three weeks for more applications.
In all these, one thing is loud, echoing across the land and seeking for urgent attention of the discernible: the rate of unemployment has reached a frightening proportion requiring urgent attention.
Although unemployment is a global phenomenon, the Nigerian situation is a pandemic that calls for urgent attention. Every year, our universities continue to churn out graduates (both employable and unemployable) into already saturated labour market. School leavers and drop-outs throng the streets in search of daily living. In a bid to weather the storm in the ailing economy, companies are forced to retrench and downsize, hence, workers that were once gainfully employed have been thrown back into the labour market in search of jobs that are not available.
The menace of unemployment keeps staring us in the face as a nation. It has become a vigorous threat to our corporate existence, as well as our growth and development as a people, yet we seem to dodge the reality of its consequences. The greatest assets of any country are its human resources. Sadly, many of our agile, able-bodied young men and ladies are into social vices, having no meaningful venture to keep body and soul together.
Boko Haram has been able to thrive because many of those recruited saw the financial inducement as a solution to their financial incapacity. Thuggery and touting have become professions for some in a land where social security is non-existent. Thuggery has become a means of survival for idle hands that end up as tools in the hands of devious politicians. Others in similar hopeless state have found a quiet haven in armed robbery and kidnapping, thereby becoming endangered species to a large proportion of the society.
The parallel lines of existing vacancies and applicants continue to grow at unequal distances and they may never meet until a state of emergency is declared on unemployment in our clime. And this state of affairs has created another jamboree for recruiting agencies which continue to smile to the bank at the peril of hapless jobseekers, knowing that the Nigerian system is a feasting ground for such inanities as witnessed during the controversial immigration recruitment exercise in March 2014. The sham that characterizes recruitment exercises in our land is one that leaves sour grapes in the mouth. The gullibility of the unsuspecting public, the desperation of job-seekers and the deceit and incompetence of recruiting firms are dire consequences of the failure of the Nigerian state.
Successive governments have not shown the political will to establish new industries that would employ the army of unemployed graduates whose potentials continue to waste away in the bin of hope that may never surface. They have left more pains to the citizenry in fulfilling their urge to trade off national monuments in the garb of privatization.
The dwindling economy is a push off for entrepreneurs and small scale businesses. Epileptic power supply, the recurring fuel scarcity and collapsed state of social and physical infrastructure are deterrent to small scale enterprises.
It is a sad reality that unemployment will continue to thrive in Nigeria for as long as the government continues to take power supply with kid gloves. More companies are moving to neighbouring countries in order to avoid operating at a loss. Although Nigerians now pay higher tariff for power, the supply is not anything near celebrating. Expectation is so high. The ‘super minister’ in charge of power cannot afford to let down Nigerians, especially the youths who daily bemoan the hardship of a country with wings but cannot fly, and of scarcity in the midst of plenty.
Moreso, qualitative education is a prerequisite to ending the haunting unemployment situation. The curriculum in technical schools and all tertiary institutions, including polytechnics, universities and colleges of education will need to stir the mind and inflame intellectual and cerebral enterprise. This is necessary as the current curriculum is one of job-seeking mentality rather than creating jobs.
As Nigeria’s population increases, so will crime rate and other social vices. It is wise, therefore, to give the youths a job before they get a job that will not only inflict pain and distress, but also give the society sleepless nights; for an idle hand is the devil’s workshop. The sooner the present administration puts the horse before the cart and tackles this hydra-headed monster, the earlier it will prevent the emergence of another insurgent or militant group.
Otherwise, this ticking time bomb may have been calculated to destroy the snoring giant of Africa.
•Adeosun writes from Ondo, Ondo State