October 27, 2014.
By: Joe Onwukeme
This article became necessary as a follow up to my Diary Of An Unemployed Graduate (DOAUG).
After the article was published, a concerned unemployed youth sent me an e mail.
“Joe, I read your DOAUG; it gives me joy that you understand the pains of unemployed graduates. But if I may ask, why are you even complaining? You have not stayed up to a year at home since you passed out from National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Scheme and you are this desperate for a job; just calm down.
“There are back logs of graduates waiting to be employed; they are not desperate nor complaining the way you are doing, I understand your problem; I was this desperate when I passed out from NYSC in 2009; I used the zeal as a fresher to hustle for a job as an Engineer.
“I have travelled to anywhere you can think of in Nigeria and the jobs are not forth coming. I have resigned to fate, hoping for a miracle. I hope you join me”.
This is one out of numerous testimonies of millions of Nigerian unemployed youths. There is no middle class family in Nigeria that doesn’t have an unemployed graduate. We are as visible as the sun and can be easily identified in the streets, joints, social gatherings, etc. We are practically idle; our daily routine can be easily predicted.
The challenges facing the Nigerian youths in the 21st century is too numerous to ponder. As a youth, little or no attention is accorded to us. We struggle and pay to get virtually everything; the conventional way of getting admission into higher institution of learning through Joint Admission And Matriculation Board (JAMB) have been thwarted.
After JAMB, we go through rigorous Post-University And Matriculation Examination (UME) exercise, this gives room for extortion by various higher institution of learning before majority of us get admission.
When some of us that read professional courses like Medicine and Medical Lab. Science are through with school, the rigorous bureaucratic processes we under go to process our licence and get an approved teaching hospital for our house-manship and internship programmes breeds room for exploitation. No youth wants to go and serve where his or her safety is not guaranteed; this leaves us with no other option but to influence where to go for our mandatory one year NYSC scheme.
When we are through with the mandatory NYSC scheme, we are automatically thrown into the labour market with little or no provision to face the harsh realities of life.
We adapt to every job offer; when they recruit us to join and conduct election, religious extremists who the poll results didn’t favour will take vengeance sniffing life out of us. The government will immediately condemn it and praise us for “dying serving our Father Land.”
We are forgotten immediately we are buried.
Over five hundred thousand youths participated in the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment exercise meant for less than four thousand youths and about twenty of us died with many injured. The government will call it “National Tragedy” that must be critically examined and proffer alternative solution. We move on to the next job search because we know nothing will come out from their empty promises.
When they organize ceremonies, they invite friends, associates and politicians with close affinity but shut the doors against us with a caveat, “Strictly By Invitation”. When they organize rallies for election, they declare the gates wide open for us because of their political interest.
They encourage us to be self-employed without provision for sustainable policies that will encourage small and medium enterprise to strive. No administration has been able to proffer reasonable solution to our accumulated problems; everything has been left on the altar of politics between the ruling and opposition parties while blame games dominate our headline news.
The quest to acquire power by desperate politicians has led to extreme insurgency in the North- Eastern parts of Nigeria. Our territories are being taken over on daily basis and hope of over 200 kidnapped Chibok sisters returning is diminishing on daily basis.
They have relegated us from corridors of power to the boys quarters of power. The same men that dominated our country both as politicians and military administrators in the first, second and third republics even before some of us were born, have kept their tenacious hold on power.
The only place they have not laid claim to is the entertainment industry, maybe because they see us as nuisance and noise makers that are only needed for entertainment in their political rallies, coronation ceremonies, children’s weddings and anniversaries.
Some of us that can’t withstand the pressure become easy prey to our desperate politicians. We turn to their hireling and execute all their dirty jobs. When they succeed, we are compensated with Senior Special Assistants (SSAs) and Personal Assistants (PAs) for jobs well executed. At other times, they abandon us to our fate.
Over the years, our lawmakers have been complacent to our plight. They trivialise issues that concerns our welfare with levity and have refused to accept their ignominy of failures. This has resulted to some of us taking laws into our hands and every part of the nation is experiencing one form of youth restiveness to another; terrorism is taking the lead.
In summary, the challenges facing Nigerian unemployed youths are too numerous to mention. They have widened the gap between the haves and the have not; some of us have resigned to fate while others are still striving for excellence,
For how long are we going to remain at the boys quarters of power? When are we going to be recognised and be given opportunity to contribute to nation building?
It took a rag tag fruit seller in the street of Tunisia in January 2011, to launch an Arab Spring Revolution that engulfed North African countries of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and fundamentally re shaped the nature of politics in the region.
Numerous factors like government corruption, economic decline, unemployment, extreme poverty which are peculiar to us were pointed out as the reason why the revolution took place.
Globalization, through social networking was the powerful tool that made the Arab revolution a success.
In Nigeria, because of the way our security agencies detest protests and the brutality approach they always adopt to disperse crowd, it will be a good idea to stick to social media which our government agencies don’t have control over to build our connections and also use it as a platform for public opinion, expression and mobilization.
As we approach 2015 general elections, and as our politicians intensify their campaigns, let us not be carried away by their antics and propaganda. Let us shun sentiments and focus more on their past records, credibility, manifestos and debates.
The ones that can convince us with realistic facts on how to rescue this nation from its series of anomalies should be given our thumb fingers at the polls.
The Nigeria of our dreams begins with you and I.
Joe Onwukeme: wrote from Enugu
Follow me on twitter @unjoeratedjoe