Unem­ploy­ment grad­u­ates into Nige­ria’s big­gest prob­lem

Weekly Trust - - Front Page -

Judd-Leonard Okafor, Fran­cis Arinze Iloani, Mau­reen Onochie, Hope Abah Em­manuel (Makurdi), Risikat Ra­moni (La­gos) & Vic­tor Edozie, (Port Har­court)

On­go­ing re­cruit­ment by the Fed­eral Road Safety Com­mis­sion shows up the scale of unem­ploy­ment in Nige­ria. The com­mis­sion has 4,000 job slots to fill. Some 324,000 short­listed ap­pli­cants showed up for re­cruit­ment-105,000 of them are grad­u­ates, scam­per­ing for po­si­tion as in­spec­tors and road mar­shal as­sis­tants.

They will un­dergo ap­ti­tude and drug tests be­fore a fi­nal screen­ing. But young Nige­rian work seek­ers will en­dure any­thing to land a job that pro­vides a monthly pay cheque.

Older Nige­ri­ans speak of a past when young grad­u­ates had jobs lined up even be­fore they grad­u­ated.

“If you fin­ished your fi­nals on Fri­day, there was a job wait­ing for you by com­ing Mon­day,” ex­plained a gy­nae­col­o­gist who’s prac­tised for more than 30 years. He was speak­ing about ready job from when he left med­i­cal school.

That starry-eyed dream of a job is dis­tant and murky.

Akau Em­manuel read mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion at Benue State Univer­sity, Makurdi. He’s com­pleted na­tional ser­vice and stayed job­less ever since.

“Ev­ery­where you go and the door seems locked against you can be quite frus­trat­ing,” he says.

“The of­fices give you im­pres­sion that un­less you have some­body at the top, you can’t get gain­ful em­ploy­ment.

The frus­tra­tion of re­jec­tion ac­com­pa­nied by no ac­cess to es­pe­cially gov­ern­ment owned in­sti­tu­tions can only be imag­ined.”

His en­try into the labour mar­ket has been “very tough and rough”, he says.

It is a re­al­ity for mil­lions of Nige­ri­ans ev­ery day. Some 71 mil­lion Nige­ria are cat­e­gorised as work­ers as at the third quar­ter of 2017 by the Na­tional Bu­reau of Statis­tics.

Among them 17 mil­lion are un­der­em­ployed, 54 mil­lion are fully em­ployed.

Nige­ria’s to­tal labour force stands at 83 mil­lion peo­ple. But the to­tal work­ing age pop­u­la­tion is 109 mil­lion.

The num­ber of peo­ple un­em­ployed is es­ti­mated at 12 mil­lion. That’s equiv­a­lent to the com­bined pop­u­la­tion of Namibia, Botswana, Le­sotho, Gam­bia and Dji­bouti.

A to­tal 29 mil­lion are ei­ther un­der­em­ployed (not work­ing up to 20 hours a day) or sim­ply un­em­ployed.

The “lazy Nige­rian youth” meme touched a raw cord with young work­ing-age Nige­ri­ans. It teased mem­o­ries of en­ter­prise, fanned em­bers of in­no­va­tion, but con­tin­u­ously rubs raw on job­less­ness na­tion­wide.

“It is re­ally very dif­fi­cult to cope with job­less­ness in Nige­ria,” says Philip John­bull. At 28, the fresh grad­u­ate of bank­ing and fi­nance from Rivers State Univer­sity is still on the hunt for a job.

“You know when your par­ents spend so much in train­ing you and the mo­ment you pass out of univer­sity every­thing pointed at you speaks to the fact that you should start fend­ing for your­self. You are now on your own, un­like when you were in univer­sity when some­body is tak­ing care of your needs. So it is dif­fi­cult to cope with­out a job.”

John­bull just about missed the eco­nomic boom time when banks were all over the labour mar­ket, poach­ing heads from any and all in­dus­try. As a young grad­u­ate, his hope is dim.

“In Nige­ria, it is very dif­fi­cult for young grad­u­ates to se­cure em­ploy­ment. Un­less you know some­body, se­cur­ing em­ploy­ment in Nige­ria is not an easy task,” says John­bull.

“You must know some­body or you know some­body that knows some­body: that is the only guar­an­tee one has to se­cure a job in the present coun­try.

“Se­cur­ing em­ploy­ment can be only be guar­an­teed if you are highly con­nected. Those that have peo­ple in po­si­tion of au­thor­ity stand a bet­ter chance of be­ing gain­fully en­gaged in the labour mar­ket.

Teem­ing mil­lions: Em­ploy­ment ex­cer­cises like the one in this un­dated file photo, at­tracts many ap­pli­cants

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