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Nigerian graduates are living word of mouth as the job crisis worsens

Nigerian graduates are living word of mouth as the job crisis worsens

Most days, Clement Akinnouye goes to a market near his home in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna to sell shoes or household products to local merchants, far from what he thought he would do when he graduated with five degrees in operations management. a few years ago.

The 24-year-old makes a thousand naira ($ 7 – $ 13) a day, but the work is irregular. “I have applied for more than 100 jobs since I graduated – in the federal public service, civil defense, the Nigerian customs service, the NNPC [the national oil company], federal road safety, as well as Nigerian prisons, “said Akinnouye, who has been living on his own from Kaduna University since he was 12.” It’s very, very difficult for normal people to get a job here if you don’t know someone. “

Akinnouye is one of millions of unemployed young Nigerians who are the victims of an economic crisis that is exacerbating poverty and insecurity, the most populous country in Africa, which has just emerged from a second recession in five years.

The unemployment rate has more than quadrupled since President Muhammadu Buhari took office in 2015, to 33.3 percent. More than 60 percent of workers under the age of 34 are even worse: half of people aged 15-24 (53.4%) and 37.2% of those aged 25-34 were unemployed in the fourth quarter, according to government data.

Nigeria produces hundreds of thousands of fresh graduates every year and millions more young people without a degree enter an economy that cannot afford enough jobs to absorb them. About 19 million Nigerians have joined in the last five years, which is 300,000 a month, according to World Bank estimates, but only 3.5 million jobs were created during that period, which meant 80% of new workers became unemployed.

“From now on, almost 30 million new jobs would be needed by 2030 to keep the current employment rate constant,” according to the bank’s economic update in Nigeria.

Clement Akinnouye: ‘You have to meet someone in Nigeria, someone who knows, someone who knows – and someone who has to pay, someone who pays, someone who pays, before you get that job’ © Neil Munshi / FT

When Buhari first took office, Nigeria was entering its first recession in decades. The country, which accounts for about half of government revenue, barely recovered from the 2015 oil price crash last year when the coronavirus sank its main product.

Critics have long argued that the Buhari administration’s policies – including maintaining multiple exchange rates, which are now taking unification measures – have prolonged the recession.

Zainab Usman, the African director of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, has gone far beyond any previous government in developing support programs for individuals, families and small businesses. He added: “After decades without doing much, I think it’s great to see Nigeria moving forward… But they [the policies] they are not enough yet. ”Government officials were not available for comment.

In addition to not having a job, Nigerians also have to deal with 20 per cent inflation, food inflation with a 12-year high and economic growth is far behind one of the highest population growth rates in the world.

Bisola Lateef: ‘Look at the rate at which people are being kidnapped now – don’t be surprised if a lot of these young people try to get a job © Neil Munshi / FT

“I think the government really needs to look at helping to create more industry to accommodate more of those professional courses we study in college. to get money.

Young people across the country have complained that the few jobs offered are usually reserved for friends and relatives of government officials or employers. The rest are often only available to those who are willing to pay for bribery extortion.

“You have to know someone in Nigeria, someone who knows them, someone who knows them, and you have to pay someone, someone who pays, someone who pays, before you get that job,” Akinnouy said.

“You have people who have been licensed for 10-15 years, who don’t have a job, who are currently in poor jobs or who are living by word of mouth. Some are driving smoke [local three-wheel rickshaws] because he tries and tries and nothing happens, ”said Aliyuk, a 31-year-old who has not had a full-time job since graduating in political science in 2014. You’re left with this little hope and it goes on day by day, it’s awesome, it’s awesome. ”

The economic crisis has helped fuel the epidemic of banditry across the country, where itinerant groups of young armed men have been killed and kidnapped to the rescue. “Look at the pace at which people are being kidnapped now. Don’t be surprised if a lot of these young people try to get a job, but if they don’t have a chance, and that’s how they start, people start cheating online,” said Bisola Lateef, a 2018 Kaduna accounting graduate, bag and shoe which sells them online. “There will be high crime rates everywhere, and it will get worse if that continues.”

Sumaaya Tofa, a graduate in international studies, was concerned that the disappointment of his generation could have dire consequences not only for the country’s security, but also for Nigeria’s higher education prospects.

“Most of us think you go to school and get certified to work and earn something. . .[but]if you can’t come into the world and get a job, people start thinking, oh, what good is it anyway? “I think most of us feel very hopeful with the situation right now.”

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