Taming Unemployment – The Abba Moro Edition

It is the very nature of the capitalist mode of production to overwork some workers while keeping the rest as a reserve army of unemployed paupers.” – Karl Marx, Theory of Surplus Value.

According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s unemployment rate is 23.9%, while the 2012 Baseline Youth Survey Report suggests 54% of Nigerian youths are unemployed. The bad news is the situation shows no sign of getting better. If you believe the numbers thrown around, 1.6 million jobs were created in Nigeria last year. The numbers look good until you realize that over 2 million Nigerians enrol with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) annually. This means Nigeria is adding at least 500,000 graduates to the labout market (if we assume that all the jobs created are taken by unemployed graduates), . 

How bad is this? During the Great Depression, unemployment in England peaked at 22%, while the United States of America and Germany saw unemployment rise to 25%. This tells us two things: (1) The future of our youth is bleak and (2) Current government interventions are not working. One of my biggest challenges with our government is the one track solution for unemployment – direct job creation. While direct job creation is perhaps the fastest way to reduce unemployment, in most cases it creates a fiscal strain on government revenues, and does not provide a sustainable solution to a structural problem. According to Professor Subramanian Rangan at INSEAD, the expense of public employment programs may undermine a government’s fiscal position, while the actual labor market impact may be to simply divert job creation to favored areas rather than increasing overall employment for young people.

This is why young people must start paying attention to the electoral process. The solutions to unemplyment will not come from exploitative government officials like Abba Moro, the Interior Minister who supervised that tragic recruitment exercise to hire 4,500 people for the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS). Let us consider this again -a federal minister charged 530,000 applicants N1,000 each to apply for less than 5,000 jobs. The exploitative and poor planned exercise led to the deaths of Nigerians. The same minister comes on national television and says “we will not be distracted by what has happened and we will setup a high powered panel to ascertain what happened in these centres.” He is still a federal minister, paid from the taxes of those lucky enough to be employed. Nobody has apologised or been sacked for the deaths caused. If this is not a classic example of killing a man and dancing on his grave, I dont know what is. The solution to such blatant idiocy is not violence, or the type of “revolution” many have asked for. The solution lies in a silent revolution, one effected through the ballot box on Election Day.

It is our collective duty to remember the bitterness, helplessness and anger; and channel these emotions into selecting candidates that will improve the level of governance at all levels. For the millions of young people without jobs, we must listen to political parties and candidates that show a clear sense of how to stimulate job creation. From simple solutions like job search assistance programs, to more difficult ones like fiscal rebates, or specific policies that remove the barriers to doing business, our votes should go to candidates that demonstrate a clear ability to solve our problems. For example, according to Roland Michelitsch, Chief Evaluation Officer and Manager at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Mexico has experienced a 2.8% increase in employment from measures that reduced red tape and taxes for businesses. In many other countries, employment has grown by 5% or more on the back of an improvement in grid sourced power supply. The problem is not without solutions, contrary to what the responses of our governments suggest.

Yesterday was a reminder that we surrendered our collective power to an inept political class. It is also a call to action – we must register and vote to prevent people like Abba Moro from getting into elective office or appointed into senior government positions. Until that happens, we must brace ourselves more for painful tales like this one: https://m.soundcloud.com/onyinye-ough/eyewitness-account-nis?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=wtshare&utm_medium=Twitter&utm_content=https://soundcloud.com/onyinye-ough/eyewitness-account-nis