Covid-19 and Nigerian youth: A double setback

Nigeria is not insulated from the impact of the dreaded coronavirus, which affected many aspects of human existence creating misfortunes and uncertainties regarding the future of global economies.

Although the impact of Covid-19 is squarely felt by almost all the corners of the globe, but the third world countries are more badly affected than the developed nations. Almost every sector is severely affected and put so many workers into trauma, hence, left with uncertainty. On the other hand, health sectors and few telecommunication sectors are advantaged.

However, my country, Nigeria, is a victim of pre-Covid-19 pandemic. Nigeria has its preexisting tragedies which have been compounded with the Covid-19 pandemic, bringing the country to a severe distress and ultimate pessimism about the future of its youth.

Prior to Covid-19, Nigeria’s un-employment rate was projected to hit 33.5 per cent by early 2020. The report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2019 showed that there is a successive increase in unemployment since early 2017.

In addition, statistics shows that, there are about 600,000 graduates produced every year to join the queue of the labour market.

if you project this figure in 10 years it will amount up to six million. This overflooded the labour market making the probability of getting job very minimal. That has been clearly demonstrated by the recent advertisement by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to employ 500,000 graduates and non-graduates into N-power scheme.

Regrettably, just two weeks after the advert over 4.4 million had already applied. Remember, that is just a temporary job. The most devastating thing is the way our youth are myopically trained leaving them enclosed nowhere beyond their chosen discipline. 

By definition, a typical Nigerian youth symbolizes what is termed as ‘monotonous’, meaning they are one sided. A youth that is school oriented can hardly go beyond what he learnt in a class with which, consequently, he expects juicy job from the government and nothing else.  Production of such youth left so many in the country still expecting government job. Some spend more than 15 years since they stepped into the labour market. 

A trader knows nothing apart from his trading business. The same thing applies to a farmer. No one is thinking beyond mediocrity. If you can eat for the day you don’t mind job security or whatsoever. That unilateral nature of ours contributed a lot in over dependence on government, it is practically impossible for government to give everyone a job.

Our unilateral nature, coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic, could seriously place us in double setback, unless proactive measures are put in place. The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic has placed the Nigerian youth in serious agony and depression, as even the employers have to either cut their employees’ salaries or disengage some. And the vaccine is yet to be found, meaning there is no near hope as to when the pandemic will become history.

To be clear, Nigeria is already flooded with many unemployed youths even prior to Covid-19 and now the pandemic is at the apex of dislodging already employed youth out to labour market.

Although, government through the Central Bank gives a noninterest loan for small and medium enterprises, but the youth are undermining the effort of the government by the fact that, very minute amount of them are entrepreneurially oriented. I have a colleague that collected a federal government agricultural loan and sold it at very low price, guess what he did with the money: He simply changed his android phone. That is so disheartening.

To beat the ravaging pandemic setback, we have to change our monotonous mentality to seize any available opportunity and to critically look at it from both angles, so we can move forward. Government on its own part has the most significant role to play by providing an enabling atmosphere for businesses and agriculture to thrive. With these I think we will only cushion the pandemic effect on our youths but also increase our capacity building and create room for economic diversity.

Abdullahi Muhammed

[email protected]

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