Unemployment graduates into Nigeria’s biggest problem
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