NIGERIAN YOUTHS: WHICH WAY TO GO
Nigeria is unarguably the most populous nation in Africa with over 170 million people and one of the top ten most populous nations in the world. This implies that the country is faced with a high population of youths. Who is a youth? One may ask, a youth is one between the ages of 15 – 35 years in the Nigerian case. According to the National Baseline Youth Survey (2012), the population of youths (15 – 35 years) in Nigeria was estimated to be 64 million where female were 51.6 percent and male were 48.4 percent. Out of the over 64 million youths, 64.1 percent of youths age 15 – 19 were in school while 21.3 percent had never been to school. For age group 20 – 24, 23.2 percent had been to school while 20.2 percent had never. Only 9.0 per cent of youths age 25 – 29 were currently in school, but most (28.4 percent) had at least attended a school before. Similarly, only 4.3 per cent of youth age 30 – 35 were currently in school. It is estimated that 5.9 million children are added to the population yearly. Following the above data, it can be seen that Nigeria has an ever increasing youthful population.
Merits of such population to a nation
Nigeria can greatly benefit from having a youthful population. For example, China harnessed their youths and created labour-consuming employment to employ their youths, which in turn led to economic boom for their nation. Hence, if the Nigerian government can think of ways to harness this population via creating labour-consuming jobs, this will go a long way in growing the economy as well as reduce the ever-increasing rate of youth unemployment.
Youths are seen as tomorrow’s nation builders; hence, a youthful population if properly harnessed can be the gateway to a nation’s development. Youths given their fresher outlook to life if put in positions of power can bring about new ideas and initiatives for the nation because they have in mind that they are helping their own and the generations unborn and this can go a long way to reduce corruption in the society .
Challenges of such population to a nation
However, as much as having a huge youthful population can serve as a catalyst to nation building, it can also be a huge challenge if not properly managed like in the case of Nigeria.
Given that over 70 million youths are unemployed in the country spells danger for the country. Youth unemployment is very high as more than half of the youths are unemployed or underemployed. As tertiary institutions pump out graduates and they enter the labour market, while the Nigerian labour market does not have enough resources to accommodate even up to half of them. Hence, you see youths roaming the streets in search of paid employment and finding none.
This situation also affects the nation’s educational development. For instance, Nigeria does not have enough tertiary institutions to accommodate the throng of young school leavers seeking for admission into the tertiary institutions. Hence, less than 20% of those seeking admission are actually admitted.
The government does not give the necessary attention required by the youths to them. A number of programmes have been inaugurated and some have run their course, others still active. However, most of these programmes are like taking a drop of water out of the ocean, as the programmes if they work, empowers a very small number of youths. In fact, most times, the money spent on the programmes running is more than the success of the programmes.
Given that, youth unemployment is on the rise, and youths are people in a period of their lives that they cannot be idle. They often resort to crimes either to survive or to engage themselves to avoid being idle. Hence, as youth unemployment rises, so does the crime rate rise in the country.
What We Can Do
The Nigerian government should focus more attention on the youths. Many youths have great business ideas but due to no access to financial facilities and even when they can access it, it is at a very exorbitant interest rate. Nigerian government should invest more in facilities and sectors that are more youth-friendly and labour consuming as this will help to curb the growing crisis of youth unemployment. NYSC passes out not less than 80,000 corps members each batch but only about 20 percent of them find paid employment. The civil service should encourage all those that have reached and surpassed the age of retirement but are still employed due to falsification of age and data to retire as well as “ghost workers” to make space for the younger generation to come in. However, to achieve this, the pension scheme should be improved, as it will encourage them that even if they are leaving paid employment, they will still be paid stipends that will enable them live comfortably.
In addition, more educational institutions should be established to help combat the high level of illiteracy prevalent in the country especially in the rural areas. Technical colleges should be given the same accolade been given to universities and polytechnics to encourage the youths to attend them. In addition, computer literacy needs to be given a more serious attention most especially in the public and rural schools so that the Nigerian youth can be able to compete globally with his/her counterparts. Moreover, infrastructural development should also be undertaken especially in the rural areas. This will put a check to the massive rural-urban youth migration and overseas migration that is currently taking place, as youths will be able to work and create work wherever they find themselves without having to worry about increased cost of production.
Finally, our political arena should create space for youths to have a say, be heard and put in positions of power. This nation has reached an era where having a youth president is not a taboo or an abomination. However, the present leaders refuse to give way for the future leaders. They keep on ruling and ruling again without any opportunity for new participants.
In conclusion, they say, youths are the tomorrow’s leaders but we fail to understand that if they are not given adequate attention and training today, our tomorrow is already doomed before we get to it. We the youths should understand that we are the owners of our own destiny; we should start taking charge of our lives. The youths are indeed the future but we should also understand that tomorrow starts today.
Chiamaka, your post addressed the heart of the Nigerian problem perfectly and I am proud to have a young person speak out. Yes, any developmental plan that does not recognize youths as the major driver in the short run and in the long run is just a waste of time and Nigeria happens to be one of such economies.
Let me contribute a little to what I consider a perfect job you have done with the following;
HUMAN CAPACITY BUILDING
1. As a nation and as private stake holders in the educational sector, we need to as a matter of urgency make quality education affordable. The cost of quality education is so high that the majority to Nigerians may never be able to afford it without some form of assistance.
2. Western education is important, but handymen, artisans, and related professions should be made more honorable. China for instance took advantage of this sector and is celebrated today for producing affordable and high quality goods and worker force.
ACCESS TO FUNDING
1. Youths should forget the rich quick mentality and opt for the option of starting small. Yes, with the right business plan you can find funding in Nigeria for your start-up business. Example of such source of funding is LAPO, GROOMING etc. These institutions grant loans starting from N50,000 with flexible repayment plan.
2. Bank of industries besides being desperate for entrepreneurs also have dedicated regional business development consultants that can help youths succeed in business by way of helping to package your business plan and recommending you to sources of funding.
BECOME A SELF STARTER
1. I will not advise anyone to sit down and wait for oil related jobs or the government for any assistance. The oil industry as we all know is witnessing a downward plunge that defies historical records. This recent event is an eye opener pointing investors to non oil related niches. Why don’t you develop yourself and be a forerunners in one of these areas?
2. Youths should focus in developing themselves and become self starters. That is how the Nigerian economy will start witnessing much awaited change – by taking our destinies in our own hands.
Thanks it is a mind blowing write-up. Please,keep it up. Cheers.
this website will educate Nigerian youth, keep it up
Insightful post. Thank you
I share your thoughts