• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Unemployment and our shame as a nation


I couldn’t help tears from dropping down my eyes last Saturday when I saw our youth, unemployed graduates who ended their lives untimely in the quest for Nigerian Immigration Service job. This, no doubt, was an avoidable tragedy but for the state of the nation.

Every leader, both past and present, has his share of blame in what our country has turned to. In those days, as I was told, a secondary school leaver was a ‘gold’ while a university graduate was seen as a ‘god’ who had surmounted all hurdles to gain knowledge. As such, the tradition was that the graduate should choose and pick the most preferred job out of the many juicy ones that come begging for his attention.

Today, the opposite is the case as a graduate could even lose his life in the process of looking for a manageable job that many help ‘put body and soul together.’ This is the picture of the experience of over five hundred thousand youth who applied for less than five thousand Immigration job slots.

Should I even say, ‘this generation is at the suffering end of the omissions of our leaders and fathers’ generation?’ Because to me, it seems there is no solution in sight yet.

This is the same generation that Boko Haram is unleashing its dastardly acts on with bombings of university campuses, secondary schools, maiming and killing of corps members, thereby reducing our number in spite of being tagged, ‘ leaders of tomorrow. ’Those who escaped the horror of terrorists are made to die of hunger, joblessness or stampede during a recruitment exercise.

Unfortunately, the children of the high and mighty who are more instrumental in what Nigeria has become either have an enviable job awaiting them on graduation from the University or have to travel abroad to continue life ‘in a greener pasture.’

Besides, many of them do not even have to school here. They see our higher institutions as glorified secondary schools with little or no facilities to run it as a plague within while incessant lecturers and other unions’ strike is the plague without.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, General Household Survey((1999-2011), Nigeria’s unemployment rate jumped from 8% in 1999 to an average of 13.3% in 2000 to 2008, and then jumped again after the global crisis to an annual average of 21.66% in 2009 to 2011, to peak at 23.9%.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s economy has grown very fast in the last thirteen years in response to global oil and non-oil commodity prices. In particular, as stated by National Bureau of Statistics (1999-2009), Nigeria’s nominal Gross Domestic Product doubled from N20 trillion in 2007 to N40trillion in 2012.

In spite of this paradoxical growth, we keep hearing, ‘Nigeria is broke today, Nigeria is bankrupt tomorrow.’ I pray we will not wake up someday to hear that our country has been sold due to lack of resources to run it in the face of plenty endowments of natural resources.

One of the responsibilities of government in a sane environment is job creation. However, this should not be based on ‘who knows who’ but on merit. Also, good jobs should not be the destiny of the few privileged while the poor are asked to make do with the crumbs that fall from the table and even die in the process of scavenging for it.

Government should be committed to creating an enabling environment where business can thrive; where investors can freely operate. Then, the scourge of unemployment can be reduced. We are tired of the activities of insurgents today, militants tomorrow, and kidnappers the day after. There should be a renewed commitment on the part of our leaders to ensure security of lives and property.

The leadership class should see the Saturday’s Immigration recruitment stampede which resulted in the loss of nineteen promising youths as their failure and shame. They should take deliberate steps in the name of posterity to salvage this nation from collapse and put an end to avoidable loss of human lives.

Unemployment should be tackled head long and be made a thing of the past. In addition, recruitment exercise should not be a death trap for our teeming youth. We should seek improved ways of conducting interviews without having to put the lives of our people in jeopardy. The Saturday’s deed had been done. May God console the families of the departed souls.

Femi Onasanya