Without jobs, protests like #EndSARS can reoccur – Analysts
Without jobs there are possibilities that the EndSARS protest that saw the Nigerian economy losing billions of naira in October 2020 could reoccur, analysts say.
“If the youths were engaged with good and decent jobs, it would not have been easier to mobilise them considering the political apathy these young people have,” Ayodele Shittu, a senior lecturer at the Department of Economics, the University of Lagos with specialisation in economics of entrepreneurship and innovation, said.
According to Shittu, the solution is for the leaders, teachers, and politicians to consider investment in the capacity and development of these young Nigerians as a priority.
“Once this is done, directly or indirectly, we will begin to stimulate production and once that is done, the level of consumption will reduce trade investments, exportation will begin to increase and this will create enough room to demand new products and services and that is where you need to demand labour.”
Jennifer Oyelade, director of Transquisite Consulting, a UK and Nigerian registered Recruitment and Training Consultancy, advised that from an education perspective, social media marketing and strategy are areas to generate jobs since the youths spend a lot of time on social media.
“We have a thriving digital market. So, if they engage themselves with more roles in digital marketing and work with organisations to increase their digital presence, that can generate jobs,” Oyelade added.
A year ago, Ridwan Muhammed, a 27-year old self-employed researcher went to the Lekki Express tollgate to protest harassment from the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police Force.
The harassment occurred due to the use of his laptop which he carries about every day as it is a means of generating income for himself.
“Since I cannot get a job, my laptop is a means of livelihood. But each time I go out, SARS and the police will harass me based on my laptop, labeling me a “yahoo boy,” Muhammed complained.
Just like Muhammed, enraged Nigerian youths took to the streets to protest against police brutality, the insidious failure and neglect of the government to deliver good and equitable economic opportunities to them.
But the aftermath of the protest had a negative impact on the economy as it lost over N700 billion to the protest, according to the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). And the economy is yet to recover from that impact.
Africa’s biggest economy has a large, vibrant, and young population which comprises over 65 percent. But a broken educational system and dearth of opportunities have made the government regard them as less important. As a result, they have continued to flee the country in search of a better future elsewhere, thereby fuelling the country’s brain drain.
According to a 2020 Next Generation survey report by the British Council, employment worries (80 percent), crime (74 percent), political corruption and/or violence (73 percent), and lack of financial security (72 percent) are the main matters personally affecting young Nigerians.
A young female from Port Harcourt, Rivers State who does not want her name printed, said in the report that, unlike Nigeria, graduates in other countries already know the field they will fall into.
“Here you will hunt for jobs hopelessly because the government doesn’t have anything good for you.”
Two recessions experienced in the last five years caused by the decline in global oil prices in 2016 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2o20 has pushed more people, particularly the youth into the unemployment net.
Available data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that within those two periods, the number of unemployed persons has risen by 100 percent to 23.2 million in Q4 2020 from 11.6 million in Q4 2016.
Also, those unemployed that fall within the age group of 15-34, rose by 62 percent to 12.8 million in Q4 2020 from 7.9 million in the same period of 2016. Unemployment within that age group is usually the highest compared to other groups.
And the unemployment numbers are expected to increase as the World Bank has projected that by 2030, the number of youth needing jobs will increase to 40.2 million from about 30.8 million projected in 2021, as poverty further pushes them to seek work rather than remaining in school.
“Macroeconomic reforms to the exchange-rate, trade, and fiscal policies to diversify revenue sources away from oil and ignite the structural transformation are needed to create good wage jobs,” the report advised.
It is also called rendering help to small enterprises so they can thrive and grow. “For farms, this involves research into improved crop and livestock varieties as well as public investment to support storage, transport, and market access could help boost agricultural productivity.”
Sholarin David, a partner with Grace Curia Attorneys said the country needs to change the orientation from certificate to skill acquisition.
“Let’s bring the required skills into the university and teach them. The knowledge they have acquired to make them educated, they can input that into the skills and that will bring innovation. When that is done people will be busy, reducing the reliance on the government for jobs,” Sholarin further said.