The Jonathanian Affairs: UNEMPLOYMENT

by Tahir Sherriff

Question: Is President Goodluck Jonathan responsible for the state of un-employment in Nigeria?

Unemployed Youths in Maraba Abuja.
Unemployed Youths in Maraba Abuja.

Only a few years ago, if a graduate in Nigeria failed to gain employment into an organization that would secure his/her future after their NYSC (National Youth Service Corps), their qualification will first be thoroughly examined. If they failed to gain employment after two more years, then there would be raised eyebrows. But if that status was maintained further, then depending on his/her beliefs, Pastors, Imams, or Spiritualists will have to be invited into the matter. Few years ago, no one blamed the economy, no one blamed the government.

Few years ago, the standards that qualified a person for employment into government establishments was the O’ Level examinations, an OND, a HND or at best a BSc. Not many people were financially capable of paying their children through tertiary institutions, and the ones that did were magnanimously rewarded. Only a few years ago, PhD holders were like rocket scientists, they did not apply for jobs as drivers. The standards of employment have no doubt fallen, each and every year and no single administration can be charged as being responsible for this.

A keen observer would be quick to point out that things have been going from bad to worse. The measurements often used include the value of the Naira to the Dollar, the cost per litre of a gallon of petrol, the standard of education, the availability of jobs, the life expectancy, the wage rate differences and so on and so forth. The blame is not charged to individuals, no one comes forth to point a finger at the Minister of Education if the state of education isn’t reflecting any development. The spot-light in most of the cases will no doubt under these circumstances have been deflected from the administration and those charged to manage these different parts, as well as the individual at the helm of the affairs.

The habit of ignoring those at the helm of affairs, of failing to blame those charged with the responsibility to ensure the proper functioning of the arms of government, of deflecting with ‘wooden shields’ carved by ethnicity and religion is not one that promotes development. One should be able to get answers to questions about why unemployment in on the increase, and who is currently to be blamed, the institutions of learning? Public/Private enterprises? the labour minister? or the president? Or all of them working together as they currently do?

To the question as to whether President Goodluck Jonathan is responsible for the state of un-employment in the country, there are three answers to that. –Yes-, -No-, -Yes & No-.

YES in the first instance because the President is entrusted with responsibility for the country, that means its lands, waters, airspace and as well as the people. He is to receive first blame for any arm of the country not functioning properly. If anything, President Jonathan should receive on a daily basis answers to questions such what the major factor contributing to un-employment is. Answers as to how that is to be addressed as well as considerations to the most economic and efficient alternative.

NO in another instance because like similar problems in the country, un-employment is a blend of failure that cannot be charged to only one arm of government or one person. The growing ratio of unemployment can be attributed to factors as large as public enterprise structure and as small as the attitude of the Nigerian family unit to employment.

YES & NO in the third instance because as stated by the examples above, one can charge blame to President Goodluck Jonathan for the dangerous levels of un-employment, but anyone who truly wishes to do justice will understand that other factors play a significant role.

In more recent scenarios around the globe, significant responsibility and subsequent blame have been accorded those put in charge to manage. Systems of government are being questioned and organs re-structured to reflect modern preferences. The world has witnessed dangerous disagreements between a country’s administrative arm and its people which have led masses of people (notably in the middle-east) opposing their governments, collapsing the administrative structures and even killing their leaders.

The Jonathan administration has sought to address the un-employment problem as witnessed by the creation of the Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWIN) initiative and the SURE-P Women and youths empowerment scheme. The question is not whether the schemes can solve the un-employment problem, which has survived for decades. The question is if the scheme itself can survive. The last flaw in every human made system is the human element.

Without doubt, the level of un-employment in Nigeria is one that if continuously ill-addressed as done by previous administration is likely to affect further the smooth running of the country in the immediate and near future. Is it a solvable problem? Yes! Do we need to place blame for its current  state? Yes! Is President Jonathan responsible? Yes, No, Yes & No.

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