The Guardian
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Nigeria’s beleaguered generation


Sir: Nigeria sits pretty stiff on a keg of gunpowder thanks to its suffocating unemployment levels which have contributed in no mean measure to the teeming army of unemployed youth who have nothing doing to make their lives easier with the attendant consequence that they perch precariously on the precipice of desperation and stare down an ineluctable plunge. The devil makes work for idle hands. That has well been the case in Nigeria. Where positive energy abounds but is not properly channeled, it invariably morphs into negative energy and the society is worse for it.

Nigeria is blessed with human resources whose depths cannot be entirely fathomed. These resources have featured prominently in the striking quilt of numerous multifactorial and multi-sectorial achievements. Famous successes have been recorded in sports; sparkling achievements have graced the groves of the academy.

In the business world, Nigerians have shown themselves more than enterprising. In the world of science and technology, Nigerians have shown themselves capable of staggering surprises. It is against this horizon of undoubted ability and proven adequacy that the President`s broadside sometime ago about Nigerians being lazy really rankled more than just a few Nigerians. The uproar then exposed a thinly guised intergenerational battle and friction between the older generation of Nigerians and the younger generation. While the older generation of Nigerians have little doubt that the current generation comes spoilt and alarmingly lacking in any of their values, discipline and work ethic, the younger generation blame the older generation that has formed the bulk of the managers of Nigeria`s commonwealth over the years of mismanaging same and foisting on them a broken system of which unemployment is but one of the more grotesque features. It is truly disheartening that young, able-bodied, full-blooded people who are qualified, ready and willing to work can find no dignified jobs. It is truly painful that young, able-bodied, full-blooded people who lack formal qualifications are unable to find dignified jobs in the informal sectors to hold body and soul together. For all these, a country that aspires to take a seat of honour in the pantheon of prosperous nations must sound the alarm bells.

Insecurity and crime have today become a Nigerian reality. To the discerning, this is hardly surprising. For any venture, no matter how illicit to thrive, especially one that banks not on machines but on men, there must be in place a flourishing nursery, a burgeoning feeder system that sustains it.

In Nigeria, unemployment fulfills this ignominious and pervasive role. Frustrated youth, wielding the rapier of righteous indignation, found in illicit ventures and errands, not just a means of survival but also a dais from which to ventilate their grievances against the Nigerian nation. In a nation of bottomless religious inclinations such as Nigeria, even moral umbrage falls silent before the chilling injustice that renders unemployment a benefactor to crime. Corruption has been a criminal contributor to Nigeria`s unemployment crises.

Over many years of the reckless rampage, it has dismantled systems, enfeebled institutions and promoted a mentality that has been most pernicious to Nigeria`s prospects of beating unemployment. If this battle is to be won, corruption must be stamped out. The Nigerian government must continue to take steps to create employment opportunities and beat unemployment. It is an emergency because an entire generation of young Nigerians is beleaguered and imperiled by Nigeria`s unemployment crises.

Kene Obiezu wrote from Abuja.

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