Thursday, 31 October 2013

Insecurity and Unemployment: The Nigerian Experience

An article by Chidiebere Nwachukwu (A Human Rights Activist and Legal Practitioner based in Abuja)

The man whose house is on fire does not go chasing after rats. Many people will say that the recent security incidents have exposed the rate of insecurity in Nigeria: the Niger delta militants, the kidnappings in the South-east and South-south, the Boko haram issue, the Jos crises, armed robbery attacks and other social unrest has not, for me, exposed the lapses in our security but has shown an in-depth revelation on the part of the government of the Federation’s inability to provide employment for the citizenry.

Recent statistics(National Bureau of Statistics) has shown that more 40 million Nigerians are unemployed, and more than 4 million Nigerians under employed and the most shocking part of this report is that 90 percent of these figures are youths. Nigeria’s population is over 150 million, with about 65 million of this population being the youth population. It will be right to conclude that it is only 12 percent of Nigerian youths are employed including the under employed. A country that does not have any social security system or have a good educational policy that is ‘all inclusive’ which can comfortably accommodate her teeming youth population cannot be heard to say that it is battling insecurity.

The insecurity is self induced, though some people can argue that the inducement has not been voluntary but I disagree totally with that line of argument. All governments in Nigeria including the current Administration has failed completely hence, they voluntarily induced the insecurity in Nigeria today.

An idle mind it is said is the devil’s workshop. A young man or woman with full potentials to turn around things not only for his or her generation or country but for the world is left and abandoned on the streets to carter for himself/herself. One imagines how a young man will wake up in the morning and lay waste all through the day to the night without having anything that will make him unlock his God given potentials and having three basic needs staring at him: clothing, shelter and feeding. At least, he has to provide himself with all these assuming he is not that ‘greedy’ and bothered about the future and other luxuries. As these youths are thinking about this imminent ‘Armageddon’ facing them; they hear in the news that billions of Dollars has been looted from the ‘oil windfall’; they hear that billions of Dollars has been put into the power sector without a resultant effect; they hear that there was a ‘Halliburton scandal’ which involved hundreds of millions of Dollars; that there is Pension Scam; that a governor has looted a state; that even a Police Boss has stolen billions from the government; that justice is purchasable; that Nigerian politicians are building the highest hotels and the highest hospitals outside the country; that the Nigerian oil blocs are being shared among the politicians; that the government cannot pay the least worker under its employment N18,000 as minimum wage; that the Federal legislators are the most paid in the world when they do virtually nothing than to release gaseous fart from their protruding bellies at the National Assembly in the name of Law making. All these incidents which - I must confess - did not start today in this country, spurred the youths into action; to make a ‘positive difference’. One may ask what these youths consider as positive difference, the list is numerous they include; cyber fraud, arm robbery, kidnapping, assassination, stealing, fraud, militancy, riots, bombings and terrorism.

I call it positive difference because over time what their (the today’s youth) fathers called positive attitude has yielded negative outcome. When their fathers heard in 1975 the corruption scandal that engulfed the Cement importation they put up a positive attitude towards it, their fathers allowed it to be swept under the carpet by the then Government/regime. During that same regime their fathers heard that two individuals from the middle belt has looted the Nation, their fathers kept mute and hoped that things will change for better. When another regime came into power, the parents of today's youths hoped for better days to come but nothing happened rather their ears were blocked by the loud sound of millions of hard currencies looted by then government officials and laundered through the defunct Mathey Jason Bank of London as the conduit. Their fathers waited patiently hoping for the better tomorrow...when they heard the rice importation scandal that involved the members of the ruling defunct NPN, they hoped that tomorrow will be better. When they heard about the oil windfall which led to the looting of a deafening amount of money to the tone of about 12.4 billion US dollars, it didn't change their attitude - not at all. When the most credible election in Nigeria was annulled they kept a better and positive attitude. When corruption was legalised in Nigeria, they kept mute and prayed for a better tomorrow. When General Sani Abacha emptied the country’s treasury, they kept a better attitude and hoped for a better tomorrow.

Now that the youths have listened to their fathers’ stories and their principle and attitude they decided to toe the line of their fathers; to make positive difference, but regrettably, not as conceived by their parents. Positive attitude means another set of things for the youths. When the better tomorrow did not come; when the looting did not stop; when they saw that they corruption has been enshrined into all the facets of the economy; when these youths noticed that one becomes a statesman after stealing from the country; that only politicians are the better citizens; that the National ‘thieves’ are the only citizens with their rights to better life assured, their security guaranteed, their children’s future secured, that own better houses and live in reserved areas, that they have better medical care, drive better cars and have all better things in life. It then struck the youths, being upright is not a virtue - it is a vice. Indulging in immorality is a virtue.Corruption is better than integrity. And to some of these youths one must join them since you can’t beat them.For others, to register your agitation and disagreement with the decaying social order you must take up arms, you must fight the rich, you must extort from  the rich what they have taken from your fathers who were feeble and mute then.

To address the situation they youths were divided into two; those who must register their grievances through violence and those who must engage in fraud or immoral behaviours to achieve and acquire the status of the looters. Unlike their fathers, they resolved; never will they keep quiet, never will they hope that tomorrow will be better, never will they belief that vices should be abhorred.

The youths having unanimously resolved to digress from their fathers’ attitude decided to change and turn things around for themselves, they must put their future into their own hands. However their methods differed. Some of them believed that you must be violent to register their protest to the ongoing vices. To this group of our youths, they have the same ideology as their fathers but they differ with them in approach towards changing the trend. This group includes the terrorist groups(Boko Haram), the militants (e.g. MEND), kidnappers, etc. To the other group evil is good and good is evil, this is because what their fathers perceived as evil or corruption or immorality as having an unhappy reward or ending, does not really exist rather evil, corruption or immorality is rewarded. Therefore they must be involved in evil, in corruption and in immorality because they are no longer called or perceived to be vices rather virtues. This group includes cyber fraudsters, prostitutes, electoral riggers, scammers, etc.

There is a proverb that says when evil occurs often overtime it becomes a tradition.
Therefore let nobody blame the insecurity in the country on any other person, group or factor rather on the government. Nigeria will soon be thrown into revolution like what is happening in the Middle East recently. I have argued that looking at Libya as oil producing country, its achievements, impact on the citizens and infrastructural development over time, Nigeria would have been better with a Ghadafi than with all the failed transitional governments we have recorded in this country.This will be a topic for another day.

How then will the government create employment?

The whole duty of providing employment revolves round the government.
Firstly the government must cut cost on recurrent expenditures, drastically. The times when recurrent expenditure exceeds capital expenditure should be thrown into the past. A situation where the cost of running government is higher than what the government wants to achieve or provide for its citizenry is an aberration for a country that wants to grow. It is therefore incumbent on the government; Federal or State, to cut down the cost of running its agencies, arms, ministries and parastatals.

The use of labour intensive method of production should be encouraged. It is a known fact that modern day production method or means leans towards the use of machines and computers, but we must as much as possible engage more human labour into production. For instance in issues in construction of any sort, a labour intensive method should be used by all employers of labour.

The use Shifts system: one of the factors that sky rocketed creation of employment in Europe and America is the introduction of shift workers. This is a system where by a particular worker is required to work for a specified period of time and allowed to leave so as to be replaced by another worker every day. This Shift system enhances productivity as fatigue is reduced and maximum input is assured. It also increases and enhances turnover and reduces the cost of production. For instance imagine where roads which ordinarily take 5 years for it to be constructed takes only two years to be completed owing to the fact that workers were made to work 24 hours using the Shift system. Hence this system should be employed by the Government as the main provider of employment in the country, the private sector is not also left out here.

Another ugly trend that is inherent in the Nigerian Labour industry is the recycling of old, useless, less stronger and innovative workers. This is usually seen in the Nigerian civil service where the older workers refuse to retire, they will manipulate their ages so as to remain in service and fall within the age bracket specified by law, hence inhibiting the younger and stronger work force to enter the service and also not to grow in service. This anomaly also militates against employment.

Responsible government is also another key factor that enhances employment as a government that is accountable and change driven will encourage foreign investment which will create and improve employment in geometrical progression.

Therefore let the Nigerian governments stop chasing shadows and stop wasting our resources on security and crime fighting, the government should channel our resources towards creating jobs for our youths, towards infrastructural developments, towards fighting corruption and towards reorientation of the citizenry. Those are our problems and not insecurity.


  1. We need a leadership with focus and self discipline to re-channel the enormous resources of this great country for maximum output in the socioeconomic well being of the citizenry. Thank you peeps

  2. Kudos for a well-couched piece my learned friend. It is sad to note that most of our leaders are yet to address the remote cause of the challenges facing our nation. The economic principle of scale of preference has to be applied in governance. We have to address the most pressing issues first and I believe that every responsible and sensitive government should have the provision of employment opportunities for the citizens as its main priority. Once the malaise of unemployment bedeviling Nigeria is addressed, it will give rise to a consequential chain reaction that will help see to it that our idle youths who have resorted to crime, will find meaningful jobs to help keep them busy.