Unemployment is generally regarded as people or persons between the ages 15-64 who are currently available for work but are without work. A person is regarded as employed if he/she is engaged in the production of goods and services thereby contributing to the gross domestic product in a legitimate manner.
In the third quarter of 2016, the number of economically active population or working age population increased from 106.69 million in the second quarter of the same year to 108.03 million. In essence, over 2 million people joined the labour force by the end of June 2016. According to the NBS unemployment report, over 1 million of these cannot find employment.
In the same third quarter, about 15 million people who are in active employment are doing menial jobs not commensurate with their qualifications or are not engaged in fulltime work and are barely working for a few hours. As is always the case, unemployment and underemployment was higher for women than in men. Accordingly, 59.9% of Nigerians aged 15-24 were either unemployed whilst a total of 35% of people between the ages 25 to 34 were equally either unemployed or underemployed.
The numbers stated above paints the mess that is Nigerias unemployment situation. More worrisome is the fact is at there seems to be no action plan to tackle this time bomb that is the youth unemployment. Whilst the government of the day has been unable to come up with concrete policy that will ameliorate this menace by creating equal opportunities for Nigerias teeming populace through concentrated efforts at revamping our fast deteriorating infrastructures or building new ones to cater to the needs of the present generation and sustain the generations to come. The indicators give grim results and the government is yet to come with an inclusive action plan. The private sector has been resilient thus far but for how long? Coca-Cola and Pepsi are still struggling to make their products available due to supply side challenges
Faced with grim circumstances, unmet needs, not to talk of wants, lack of jobs or gainful jobs, inefficient amenities and a comatose economy, the youth population is fast losing hope, even the Magas no longer fall for the tricks of Yahoo boys. Young people are beginning to explore other options and call in their cards. The conclusion among these folks is that dreams belong to those in dreamland, that life is good in Jand (abroad). That Nigeria is not a land for equal opportunities with institutions to nurture dreams to fruition. Call your uncle abroad, they encourage themselves, and leave this country.
And so our young people leave the shores of Nigerian in their droves as worthy testament to the profligacy of their older albeit geriatric generations who have failed to plan for them. The lure is even greater given the high value of foreign currencies as against our very weak naira. Suddenly, the poor Nigerian who washes dead body, who sweeps the streets or who wash cars over in foreign countries is far richer than the Branch manager of a Nigerian bank whe his income is exchanged to the very much weakened and valueless naira. Everybody in Jand has become a millionaire in less than a full business year.
High level and mid level Nigerians with valid visas are equally abandoning the shores of the country. Everyone is simply migrating, if not to push drugs in Malaysia, then it is to do security work in Dubai. Everyone is tired of lamenting, the reforms never came, and the expected change was anti-clockwise. Before long Nigeria will become a tourist destination reminiscent of those gigantic and rather empty countryside residences in the south east of Nigeria whose inhabitants only dwell in only at festive periods if they come home that is. Nigeria may yet gain back the much needed forex through remittances and investments from her exiled working population, who earn these remittances developing the fortunes of countries yonder.
In the final analysis, Nigerians are trapped in the middle; branded immigrants and aliens in their overseas places of residence, they are tourists in their father land, never truly living to the fullest of their capacities in their father land, never really contributing to the development and knowledge transition of their indigenous communities. Some twenty years down the line Segun pays a tourist visit to his African country that is Nigeria and can barely speak Yoruba, Amina visits Kano and can barely understand the Hausa language, Emeka comes back home and prefers French to Igbo.
Whence then is the demographic dividend? With a population of over 180 million people, it is pathetic that Nigeria cannot plan for her population. That Nigeria cannot not harness the demographic dividend of her high working class population is a great cause for worry. The future generation is already condemned in this geographic contraption and solution is far coming. Perhaps I better pack my bags and jet out to Dubai to guard bullion vans, I hear they pay in dollars and my pay is tax free.
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