Vanguard (Lagos)

17 November 2012

Nigeria: Finding Way Out of Restiveness, Unemployment

Photo: Vanguard
Unemployed youths at Alausa, Ikeja (File Photo)

opinion

The words 'youth' and 'restiveness' have become so commonly used together in the last couple of years that it seems to have taken on a life of its own. In the last decade and more there has been a proliferation of cases all over the country and indeed the world, of youth agitations which have tons of people dead and valuable infrastructure as well as personal properties lost and destroyed.

A sustained protestation embarked upon to enforce a desired outcome from a constituted authority by an organised body of youths, fits the label of youth restiveness. It is also a combination of any action or conduct that constitutes unwholesome, socially unacceptable activities engaged in by the youths in any community.

It is a phenomenon which in practice has led to a near breakdown of law and order, low productivity due to disruption of production activities, increasing crime rate, intra-ethnic hostilities, and harassment of prospective developers and other criminal tendencies.

This scourge has been around for a long time and it looks as though it is defying solutions. Maybe the question that needs to be asked is what is truly responsible for this expression of dissatisfaction by the youth? Have their complaints over the years not been heard or attended to?

Is there more to the killings and destruction than just drawing attention to the needs they want met? Are the youths trying to draw society's attention to themselves more than the issues they appear to be confronting? These and more are the questions we would try to tackle head on today.

In Nigeria for instance, the Niger Delta region which is unarguably the bedrock of the oil industry in Nigeria permeated the news for a lengthy period of time as the youths of that region tried various means of getting government and oil companies to pay attention to their dire conditions of living and alleviate their sufferings since according to them, the resources which is building the nation is flowing from their land so by virtue of that they should also be partakers of its benefits.

This strife led to a rise in kidnapping and vandalization of oil pipelines as well as other vices that were being perpetrated. After a period of years, the Nigerian government intervened and the Amnesty program was created to help deliver some of the promises which government had made to the youths in those areas.

The baton was soon handed over to the Eastern Nigeria. Increase in the rate of armed robbery attacks, kidnappings as well as unbridled thuggery became the order of the day.

Today the Northern part of Nigeria has literally erupted with unrivalled violence. Bomb blasts, kidnaps and killings of Nigerians and others have become the prevailing trend. Despite beefing up of security in these areas, the problems still looms. This situation begs the questions, what is the government of the day willing to do to put a permanent end to these problems. The National Population Commission (NPC) has said the country's population has risen from the 140,431,790 it was five years ago when the last national headcount was taken, to 167,912,561 as at October 2011.This represents an annual population growth rate of 5.6 million people.

The Ministry of Youth Development, said recently that there are 68 million unemployed youths in Nigeria.

Every year about 300,000 graduates enrol in the NYSC scheme. This is definitely not the total number of graduates but it is a pointer.

According to the Population reference Bureau, the population of youth in Nigeria is 43%.

It is a huge fallacy that violent crimes are committed because of poverty and lack of employment. For a start no where in the world not even Communist Russia does government create all the employment. A friend told me in Vicenza a month ago that the fundamental difference between Greece and Anambra State is that whereas in the former people await the government to give them a job otherwise they go on a rampage.

In Anambra the typical youths shuns low paying government job much in preference for self employment How does one explain that kidnappers being nabbed in the same Anambra do own multiple SUVs as well as numerous palatial estates that the government today is pulling down with bulldozer once they are caught.

The problem is that the greediest in the society wickedly prey on numerous others who are not as criminally armed as they are.

They always propagate the fallacy that impoverishment and unemployment drive criminality. In the core North of the country it has much more to do with ethnic xenophobia against the ethnic groups from the Middlebelt to the rest of the South who are usually endowed with modern education and usually do business at the higher level and more income producing scope of undertaking; and hence become more successful.

This exposes them to be object of rancid jealousy of their spiteful murderous countrymen who are usually disdainful of modern education. Hence the rational answer to this well advertised youth restiveness is for the areas that are much more affected than others to reverse their negative attitude for this modern education still considered by many of them as haram.

They should also bring down the the unhealthful psyche of the siege of general insecurity in the country so that their governors and political leaders will be less inclined to loot their respective state treasuries to apparently shore up their personal security and a longer grip on power.

They will then create the enabling environment for the maximization of public, corporate and self employment. Communities must lay the lasting foundation for better national security that will induce increased employment creation as well as a higher national level of labor productivity.

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