To tackle rising unemployment in the country, Nigeria is expected to create 4.5 million jobs annually, according to a report by the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, NSRP.
While the demand presents an enormous challenge, it said concerted progress towards attaining the target would create lasting benefits not only to Nigeria but also to the entire African continent.
The NSRP report, which was unveiled in Abuja, particularly showed that the country’s unemployment rate is the highest in Sub-Sahara n Africa.
While the country’s economy is said to have grown at the rate of seven per cent during the last decade, the report showed that unemployment doubled during the period with poverty rate standing at a staggering 54.4 percent.
It quoted the 2013 United Nations Human Development Index, where Nigeria ranked 153 out of 186 countries and 118 out of 134 in Gender Inequality Index and linked some of the conflicts in the country to unemployment.
Parts of the report read, “Official measures of unemployment in Nigeria were as high as 23.9 per cent for 2011, rising to 27.4 per cent in 2012, while a 2012 UN report asserted Nigeria’s youth unemployment figures were the worst in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“With a total population of 167 million, estimates of the country’s total number of unemployed given by government officials in the media during 2012 and 2013 ranged between 20.3 million and 67 million.”
Already ranked the most violent country in Africa, the report stated that growing unemployment and its attendant conflicts have driven up the number of people killed through armed violence.
It estimated that an average of 3,000 conflict-related deaths occurred annually between 2006 and 2011, while violence against women and girls has been on the increase.
“Hundreds of thousands have been internally displaced by conflict,” the report further indicated.
“Consistent with global trends, there is in Nigeria evidence of a close correlation between youth unemployment and rising armed violence.
“The World Bank identifies the increasing magnitude of youth unemployment as one of two key indicators of the declining welfare status of Nigerians in recent times.
“High unemployment in Nigeria is associated with a growing gap between rich and poor, and there is evidence that such polarisation in itself reflects and fuels structural grievances.
“Unscrupulous political leaders and ‘winner-takes-all’ power politics exacerbate feelings of inequality and exclusion when ethnic or religious divisions are manipulated in electoral campaigns at national, state and local levels.
“Politically mobilised violent gangs, recruited from unemployed male youths and sometimes beyond the control of their original patron, are widespread across different conflict contexts in Nigeria.
“Retaliatory attacks between armed groups, or armed groups and security forces, can then occur, leading to a continuing cycle of violence,” the report stated.
The study reviewed the country’s employment generation and economic empowerment programmes including the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria Programme (YouWIN!), and the Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO).
Other programmes reviewed were Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme, the Agricultural Transformation Action Plan, the National Enterprise Development Programme, the University Entrepreneurship Development Programme, as well as the Integrated Youth Development Initiative.
The report concluded that despite the number of such schemes and the resources poured into them, youth unemployment and levels of insecurity have continued to grow in Nigeria.
In the worst cases, such programmes were found to produce the opposite effect based on interviews conducted on some youth in many parts of the country.
It was also found that the targeted population were never involved or consulted in the design, implementation and monitoring of the intervention programmes.
In a poll conducted to determine youth perception of government’s employment programmes, 39 percent of the population agreed government publishes information on the selection process.
Only 26 per cent agreed such programmes contributed to reducing the overall rate of youth unemployment.
Seventy-nine per cent of the sampled population agreed that only youth close to politicians got selected while 64 per cent thought female youth were discriminated against.
As part of measures to make such programmes work, the report called for better planning and coordination of youth employment sector.
It also advocated a clear road-map to steer government response – whether federal, state or LGA- rather than proliferating initiatives as well as ensure strategic mix of demand and supply through policy coordination at macro and micro levels.
It recommended that all arms of government convene on a regular basis to ensure joined-up approaches and maximum impact.
The NSRP is a five-year programme funded by the United Kingdom, UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) with the aim of reducing violent conflict in Nigeria.