Challenge of unemployed youths

And suddenly the real architects of the current situation where majority of about four million annual graduates from our universities roam the streets without jobs, where PDP stalwarts, and their sympathizers who have access to free money import products of labour from other nations while over 60% of our 40 million youths remain jobless, and those whose policies have contributed to the misery of our youths (the National Bureau of Statistics placed the country’s misery index at 34 per cent), are warning us of the coming apocalypse if the problem of youth unemployment is not urgently addressed.

Leading those who have been shedding crocodile tears about the misery of our unemployed youths is the father of PDP himself, ex-President Obasanjo who when challenged over his administration’s lack of a coherent policy on employment told bemused Nigerians that the recharge card and plantain chip hawkers on the streets of our major cities represented dividends of PDP policy on employment.

And now the CBN governor, irrepressible Sanusi Lamido Sanusi whose policy led to the loss of about 50% of the banking sector workforce and who recently called for downsizing of the civil service by 50%, quoting data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) put unemployment rate in 2011 is 29.3 per cent, Yobe and Kano at 60.6 and 67 per cent respectively. This according to him means ‘unemployment has not only doubled in the last five years’, but saw the development whereby ‘unemployment is widening at a time of economic growth’, as an aberration’

Sanusi who has been the star of Jonathan PDP administration in the last four years accused government of failing to ‘create an enabling environment that can encourage industrialisation of a country that produces oil yet imports refined fuel, a country that is in the tomato belt yet import tomatoes’.

He perhaps forgot to add that we are a nation with acres upon acres of rubber plantation and sixth oil producer in the world and yet import used and substandard tyres; that we abandoned our massive oil palm plantations to import palm oil from Malaysia that came to borrow palm nuts from us; that in spite of our over 1,200 kilometres of coast line, we have for the past 50 years imported fish and that with over 80 million hectares of arable land, two third of which is located within a geographical zone where Sanusi told us his grandfather once supervised ground nut pyramids, we import ground nut oil.

Government officials are also not left out. They have been talking from both sides of the mouth. While the Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr. Temi Kale put the figure of jobless and unemployed Nigerians at 20.3 million and praised President Jonathan for this feat, the Director General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), the body statutorily charged with the responsibility to design and implement programs aimed at combating unemployment in the country, Mallam Abubakar Mohammed on his part put the number of unemployed youths at 50%.

But although President Jonathan administration has continued to dig the hole making our escape more difficult with acts of executive profligacy, the president’s inability to fight corruption, and our legislators shameless involvement in constituency contracts, etc, but he cannot be held responsible for the situation in which we today find ourselves.

That unenviable position is reserved for the past successive military regimes that mortgaged the present and the future of our youths. While Gowon and Murtala/Obasanjo regimes destroyed the academia and the bureaucracy, the two most important institutions in society, Babangida completed the cycle through structural economic derailment otherwise known as Structural Adjustment Program (SAP).

Buhari lost his job because he was not prepared to do what Babangida, Kalu Idika Kalu, and Olu Falae eventually did. They accepted IMF loan, opened our market to importation which only increased employment for the youths of the exporting nations. Eskor Toyo and Sam Aluko warned that we would become a net importer of cheap goods, that local manufactured goods would become more expensive, that foreign capital would become more mobile while our labour also a factor of production would be immobile. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Gani Fawehinmi, Alao Aka-Bashorun and others took to the streets and were clamped into prison serving jail terms from Ikoyi to Gashua. Newspaper houses were closed down. Journalists were picked up in broad day light. Many simply escaped to Afghanistan.

Babangida and his group devalued our naira which was almost at par with the pound sterling. And as our nation became a nation of immigrants, Margaret Thatcher in order to prevent economic immigrants from Nigeria slammed a visa requirement on Nigeria, a commonwealth country that was hitherto exempted from visa requirement.

Of course, the PDP, peopled by military new breed that breed only corruption, messed up the privatization and commercialization exercise imposed by IMF as part of their conditionalities. Nasir El Rufai, the former BPE Director General confirmed blue chip companies on which the nation had invested over a hundred billion dollars were sold at give a way prices to PDP members and their cronies. World Bank projected the exercise would lead to the creation of seven million jobs. But our nation lost the enterprises, lost the job opportunities and lost our investments as a result of PDP greed.

Today our ceramic industries, textile industries, automobile support industries, and pharmaceutical industries are all dead –their factories turned to ware houses for Italian tiles, imported guinea brocade or Taiwanese rice or fake substandard India and Chinese drugs.

Poverty started by Babangida’s SAP is today manifesting in the activities of hungry and angry uneducated youths led by unemployed educated youths from the north, kidnapping for ransom and human trafficking and prostitution by jobless youths in the South-east and South-south.

And now that those who mortgaged the present and future, of our youths have become apprehensive; now that our angry youths especially those below 30 years who have never known anything outside military dictatorship and corruption by military-created new breeds that populate our national and state assemblies know where they are coming from, they can take their future in their hands.

After all, Chinua Achebe told us, if a people cannot remember where rain started beating them, they may not know where to dry their clothes. Now, our twitter savvy facebook friendly, miracle-seeking drenched youths, who earnestly supported President Jonathan on the basis of their interaction on the social media in the 2011 election, now know why they have remained drenched. They also can now see that the military is not an option.

For their economic liberation, they must get their politics right. And to do this, they need a sense of history instead of saying the past has gone with the old people. This was the trick Babangida used to destroy our political culture and saddle us with new breed without values or role models.

Their job is therefore simple. Mobilise and elect leaders that will be on the side of the people. Leaders who will not like the military and PDP buccaneers, behave like looters of conquered territories; leaders that can stop importation of textile, shoes, ceramics, tyres, fish, and rice. Leaders that can judiciously divert huge resources wasted on phantom fuel subsidy to massive subsidy of agriculture sector and the cotton belt of the north to keep restive youths busy. And above all leaders who have faith in Nigeria and ready to have a national conference to discuss our differences, unlike military and their PDP surrogate who are insisting Nigeria unity is not negotiable because they are beneficiaries of the current anarchy.

0 views0 comments