The Nigerian National Youth Policy (2009) defines youths as those between the ages of 18-35 years. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that 29 million Nigerians under labour force were unemployed, and more than 80% of them were youths. It is evident that the Nigerian system makes life unbearable for youths. They crave for livelihood but the system obstructs their effort.
It was reported that the Youth Empowerment Scheme, part-time menial jobs introduced by some State Governments had almost 2.5 million graduate applicants of which 152,000 youths were eventually employed at estimation. Despite the peanut monthly allowance and insecurity of this employment, the unemployed ones aspired for such opportunity.
In 2014, the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) recorded 125, 000 applicants from Abuja and Lagos alone who applied for 4,500 job vacancies at NIS offices. Many youths lost their life while hundreds sustained varying degrees of injury in a stampede that ensued in the application process.
Over the years, thousands of youths between 18-26 years regularly apply for recruitment forms into the Nigerian Army. The pivotal reason for the yearly mass application is connected with poverty and frustration. Many apply for the form to secure a livelihood without considering the challenges ahead of them in the field.
Despite the unemployment rate in the country, the Nigerian youths are resolute to pursue academic excellence. UTME 2018 database revealed that 1, 502, 978 candidates registered for the 2018 UTME test and 88% of the applicants were youths. Moreover, the admitted students in tertiary institutions encounter numerous challenges such as outrageous increment in the tuition fees, poor welfare, incessant strike yet they refuse to drop out of the University system.
The Nigerian youths are not lazy, they only need the avenues to display their potency, brilliancy and worth but the system is yet to create such opportunities. The national cake that is being shared by a group of Nigerians has left millions of youths hopeless and helpless. Each of the 109 Nigerian senators receives #13.5 million as monthly running cost, #7500 as monthly pay and over #200 million as constituency allowance while each of the 360 lawmakers in the House of Representatives receives #11.5 million monthly running cost aside other allowance.
This institutionalised daylight corruption is also extended to other government parastatals. Aside from the legalized outrageous allowance, billions of Naira are being siphoned on daily basis. It is saddened that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has failed to fix the problem as promised during his presidential campaign in 2015.
Realistically, the government cannot afford to employ all its citizens, but it must create job opportunities and provide essential services for all. Job opportunities are created when government invested on technological, educative and medical research. Research gives birth to new ideas that transform into employment opportunities. Moreover, the establishment of industries, promotion of local goods, proper funding of all public sectors, public empowerment programmes contribute monumentally in building the nation and its people. It is pathetic that Muhammadu Buhari-led administration doesn’t include these nation building policies to his agenda.
The British youths are neither intelligent nor laborious than the Nigerian youths. The difference between both is that the former have the opportunity to display their potentials while the latter are denied of it. For instance, education is a birth right to every British citizen. It is a monetized enterprise which is accessible to the rich in Nigeria. The British government embarks on research, establishment of industries, promotion of local goods and empowerment programmes, the Nigerian government doesn’t only rely on foreign goods but also invest the embezzled national endowment in other nations.
President Muhammadu Buhari should stop making mockery of intellectualism.
The Nigerians entrusted him with power to liberate the country from hurdles. He is not expected to continue playing the blame game till his administration expires. The incumbent administration has only intensified its effort at criticism while synergy on nation’s building is latent. The recent verbal assault on youths indicates that Nigerians are the architects of the country’s predicament. Nigerians aspire for a leader that would proffer a remedy to their suffering. President Buhari is recontesting for presidency but believes that Nigerians are the challenges bedevilling the nation. The discrepancy between President Muhammad Buhari candidacy and the Nigerians’ demand is visible to the blind.
Binzak Azeez writes from the faculty of Law O.A.U