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Unemployment, corruption and Nigeria’s youth dilemma


Unemployed youth

Their story is very pathetic and heart-breaking: You cannot help but feel sorry for Nigeria’s youth. At every step the Nigerian youth wonders where he or she is going and why. They worry about unemployment and cost of living as the creeping inflation following the recent economic recession which has raised prices of commodities. In the face of all these challenges, youths across the country are determined as they struggle to make themselves relevant by acquiring university education. However, being a graduate does not save one from enlisting in the army of unemployed people. The strong expectation and desire to be gainfully employed saw the youth entangled with the All Progressives Congress (APC) change trap. The sound of ‘change’ that engulfed the entire nation then, was like the midnight drumming sound Alex Harley described in his book: Roots, which led some slaves in America during the era of slavery to escape to freedom. Indeed, Nigeria’s youths were captivated and entangled with the APC’s change bait to escape joblessness and live a good life. As we all know, the APC promised to create millions of job and pay unemployed graduates a stipend of five thousand naira monthly among other mouth watering promises which are still in wait three years on.

Really, things won’t change overnight but there ought to be some positive signs of improvement by now. Therefore, Nigerians especially the youth have to get serious about who is voted into Aso Rock come 2019, particularly now that our country is drifting more into ethnic and religious differences in the name of herdsmen/farmers clash. There is a great divide and suspicion among the people and Nigerians are at present, more than ever before divided. This ugly trend led the nation to end up with a Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency. And ever since Buhari came on, politics in Nigeria has turned upside down. Some political analysts prefer to describe the situation as one step forward, three steps backward. The conventional wisdom behind the change slogan has been rendered useless with the kind of low performance the APC government is rendering. At the moment, everything promised before they clinched power seem thrown out of the window.

There is no gainsaying that politicians’ take delight in shoving young people into limiting boxes because there are not enough opportunities for youngsters to explore. Recently, President Buhari tagged Nigerian youth as lazy. However, to prove Buhari wrong or further degrade young people and claim credit for reducing unemployment in the country, the Bornu State Governor Kashim Shetima in one fell swop produced five thousand chief executive officers (CEO’s) by providing fully equipped improved shoe shining kit for youths in the state. I hope there is no hidden agenda to create a fast market for shipped containers of polish and kits?


In this clime, politicians share a common trait. They are usually above the law and behave as if they were born into a political dynasty to determine the rhythm of the game. At the height of this political hubris, which usually beclouds politicians to parade and perceive themselves as political oracle and their pronouncements or body language that determines who win or lose elections in the country is worrisome. This has been the case especially in Africa where ruling parties often resort to crafty and conceivable trick to remain in power either through rigging the electoral system in its favour or bribing voters with cash or through chaos if it is lost. However, the 2015 elections in Nigeria remains a case study as the opposition were a step ahead in rigging the election, by allowing under-age voters in some parts of the country as well as the alleged role played by Cambridge Analytica among others.

Some of the major reasons Buhari was voted as president was his pedigree and promise to fight corruption. But, unknown to Nigerians corruption is already a part of a culture that originated from the ancestors. Therefore, it has become a very powerful monster. Back in the day, successive governments that made attempts to fight corruption end up with a black eye. A reference to two cases will prove the submission. First, Buhari said the other day that: “My first encounter to fight corruption, corruption fought back: I was detained for three years…” Also, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former finance minister under Goodluck Jonathan’s administration who commands great respect globally for her outstanding performance just breaks some ice in a book. According to her, fighting corruption made her mother a victim of kidnappers. Her recent book titled: “Fighting corruption in Nigeria is dangerous” is a good story line for Nollywood. The book title alone explains the strong element why corruption fight in Nigeria usually begins with great hype like a tide in the morning, at night it fights back dangerously overflowing the river bank.


An African adage says that the lizard which falls from an iroko tree, looks left and right, with no one to applaud it, nods its head in a satisfactory manner in praise of itself for the daring feat. So also, one can say of General Yakubu Gowon who recently claimed that corruption started after his government. Hear him. “It is sad to read reports that all former Heads of States are thieves. During our time we did not know anything like corruption. Some of our ministers were accused of corruption but we did not allow it to go into the public service. After I left office, apart from my salary, it was the staff that worked with me that contributed their estacode so that I could have something to live on. During our time we did not know that thing (corruption). We were afraid of being exposed.”

It is obvious that General Gowon’s claim is not the whole truth. His statement will generate a lot of controversy and he cannot be his own judge. Good enough he admitted that some of his ministers soiled their fingers. However, I see Gowon’s statement as something particularly Nigerian, where leaders always refuse to accept responsibility of failure under their leadership. Gowon should be reminded that before he became Head of State, Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogu’s coup announcement reads: “…Our enemies are the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand ten per cent, those that seek to keep the country divided permanently so that they can remain in office…”.

Three years ago, it was hard to think of any other leader other than Buhari. Today, Nigerians are apprehensive that Buhari’s second term would give licence to more killings across the country as well as putting the nation’s economy into more danger. Under Buhari’s administration, the youth’s future seems mortgaged because the country has borrowed more money than previous administrations. And even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is wondering if Nigeria can pay-off the debt. I think it should start to dawn on Nigeria’s youth that the real problems tomorrow may not necessarily be the leaders alone but certainly the youth’s inability to rescue today. Karl Marx did say that the motion of happiness was “to fight” for it, while the concept for misery was “to submit.” It is up to Nigerian youths to decide their destiny.

In this article:
Matthew Ozahunemployment
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