The Unemployed Nigerian Youth

by Bolaji Aregbeshola

When there was oil boom and a somewhat stable economy, the issue of unemployment was a very big problem. Now that Nigeria is experiencing economic crisis, one wonders what the hope of the teeming unemployed Nigerian youth would be.

Nigeria’s economy has been hurting on account of the drop in oil prices at the international oil market. All oil producing countries around the globe are feeling the impact of the historic fall in the price of crude oil.



Nigeria is not insulated from this problem. The consequences of the oil bust are already being felt by the people and all sectors of the country’s economy. Past leaders of government are to be blamed, they failed to repair our refineries, diversify the economy and revive the manufacturing sector—all because of their personal gains thereby putting the country and the Nigerian people at the mercy of an import dependent economy that blows nobody any good.

The immediate past administration painted a good picture about the economy when in actual fact the economy was undergoing recession and the country’s reserve was bleeding billions. It only took the emergence of the present administration to discover the truth about the state of the Nigerian economy but some people still fail to admit that Nigeria’s economy is currently in distress. Presently, most states of the federation owe a backlog of salary, the reason President Buhari announced a bailout package for the states and is converting their loans into bonds. This is expected to help cushion the effect of the drop in federal allocation to the states as a result of the slump in oil prices.

This should be a great source of concern to every Nigerian leader, business owners, investors and the Nigerian people. Private sector companies are also finding it difficult to pay their workers’ salaries as at when due because of the current state of the economy but unfortunately most private sector companies are not raising the alarm. They are all giving the impression that all is well with them and their businesses.

In the face of this financial and economic crisis is a problem that the present administration and most state governors have to urgently address—and that is the problem of the teeming unemployed Nigerian youth. The rate of unemployment has continued to increase over the years. This is a time bomb waiting to explode if nothing drastic is done about the 65 percent youth population in Nigeria most of whom are unemployed. Some of them who are employed are earning wages that cannot help them live a decent life.

With this growing number of unemployed youth, Nigeria becomes more vulnerable as an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Some of these youth would take to crime and criminality; others will become a menace to the society enlisting with terrorist organizations and also getting involved in shady deals and businesses just to make ends meet. The problem of unemployed youth of Nigeria must be immediately addressed by the Buhari administration before things get out of control.

Nigeria has not taken advantage of this vibrant, young and productive group in order to grow the economy. Most of these youth have diverse skills and varying talents but there is limited opportunity and avenue for them to put into good use their energy for the benefit of the Nigerian society. Studies have shown that unemployment have a negative impact on the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Nigerian economy besides it results in a waste of manpower.

There is no denying the fact that past government’s inability to holistically and strategically address the issue of youth unemployment in Nigeria have continued to hamper our economic growth besides long-term unemployment have a negative effect on the unemployed, their ability to be employed, their physical and mental wellbeing—and this ultimately contributes towards an increase in the level of poverty.

Therefore, the Buhari administration have to act and move swiftly towards solving the problem of youth unemployment in Nigeria. President Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu in an article titled ‘’Buhari’s Job Search’’ and which was published in Daily Trust Newspaper on August 19, 2015 shows there is a glimmer of hope with his explanation of the president’s concern about the unemployed youth and the potentials in the science and technology industry to create jobs. It reassures Nigerians that the Buhari administration have jobs creation as one of its top priorities. The president agrees that the Nigerian economy have over the years failed to create jobs for millions of unemployed youth. Those who say that most Nigerian youth are unemployable are justifying their failure and inability to create jobs. Most of the unemployed youth in Nigeria are graduates and those who are not graduates have technical skills and abilities in different areas of endeavor. Being unemployable is a consequence of long-term unemployment which is caused by government’s failure to create jobs.

The onus now lie on President Buhari to ensure that his administration’s policies are formulated bearing in mind the necessity of job creation for the unemployed youth. Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo recently stressed the need for policies that are rooted in people’s needs. Nigerians cannot wait to see the president’s actions and plans towards creating jobs translate into a fast drop in the number of unemployed youth in Nigeria.

Past governments efforts, programs, policies and plans have not helped to reduce the rate of unemployment in Nigeria. In the same vein, the level of poverty has not reduced in spite of the numerous poverty alleviation programs across the country. It is evident that past administration’s recipe and prescriptions for solving the problem of youth unemployment in Nigeria have not worked, hence, the need for new thinking and approach if the Buhari administration must address this problem.

Could it be that previous administrations do not have the knowledge or the means to create jobs for the teeming unemployed Nigerian youth? But Nigeria boast of bright brains in all sphere of human endeavor who could work towards ensuring that the issue of long-term unemployment is addressed and the growing rate of unemployment is kept in check. Ironically, we have had a mixed bag of politicians and technocrats, both at home and from the diaspora who have occupied one public office or the other but yet we have not made much progress in solving the problem of the unemployed Nigerian youth.

One can only conclude that this is due to insensitivity, lack of patriotism, corruption, dysfunctional leadership and bad decisions. Most public office holders only care about “fixing up” their “own people” with the available jobs while those who do not have link with public office holders can stay unemployed and are often advised not to rely on government to provide them with the needed job but rather, they should think of what they can do for themselves or probably follow the path of entrepreneurship in a country where small businesses are struggling to survive and big businesses are thriving on huge loans that are awarded to rich and influential business men and women by most Nigerian banks that are currently crying foul due to the inability of their rich associates and partners to pay up their debts.

We cannot allow the rate of unemployment in Nigeria continue to increase year in year out without making jobs creation a major job of governments at all levels. It is going to be disastrous for a country that has been projected to have the third largest population in the world by 2050.

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