10PERCENT4YOUTHS Addressing High Youth Unemployment

Nigeria is currently confronted with a massive unemployment crisis. Hundreds of thousands of university graduates are roaming the streets without jobs. The rate of youth unemployment in the country is alarming. According to the “2012 National Baseline Youth Survey Report” 54 per cent of Nigerian youths were unemployed in 2012. Statistics from the Federal Bureau of Statistics shows that Nigeria has a youth population of 80 million, representing 60% of the total population of the country. There are more young people in Nigeria today than any other segment of the population, and this comes with its peculiar social and economic implications.
The high unemployment rate of youths threatens economic growth because the resulting effect of unemployment such as perpetuation of violence and general insecurity threatens economic growth and development. On a social level, prolonged unemployment usually results in increased crime rate and violent agitations. It breeds discontent against the state, and at any slight provocation or incident may trigger violent demonstrations and social unrest, which may result in loss of life and damage to property as was witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt etc.

In the Niger delta youth unemployment is even more severe. In 2013, Bayelsa state had the highest unemployment rate of 38 percent of its employable population, while Akwa Ibom state had an unemployment rate of 36 percent, and Rivers state, 32 percent. These states receive high oil revenue allocations. In 2013, the top 4 allocations went to the following states: Akwa Ibom (N260 billion or $1.7 billion), Rivers (N230 billion or $1.5 billion), Delta (N209 billion or $1.3 billion), Bayelsa (N173 billion or $1.1 billion). Yet the state governments in the Niger Delta region are not impacting the economic situation of its youth in spite of the huge statutory revenue allocations to them. The presence of a large army of unemployed youths in the region is a clear case of failure of leadership to utilize abundant resources to create jobs that will engage the youths in productive and meaningful economic activities.

Given this scenario, it has become imperative for the governments of the Niger Delta States to make youth employment its priority. They certainly have the resources to do so as there is potential within the region to address the crisis of high youth unemployment.

The first step towards addressing this issue is the formulation of effective policies that will provide the financial resources to address unemployment and youth poverty through adequate resource allocation earmarked for this purpose. The second level is investing in initiatives that foster job creation and preservation, human capital development, skills/technology transfer and training assistance to the unemployed, and funding the development of cottage & SME industries
by young entrepreneurs. Another is encouraging public-private partnership in job creation, education, training and resource provision and support for young entrepreneurs.

To achieve these objectives, adequate resources needs to be channelled to the development of policies and programs that address youth unemployment. The Second National Youth Policy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2009 opens with the following significant statements, “Youth are one of the greatest assets that any nation can have. Not only are they legitimately regarded as the future leaders, they are potentially the greatest investment for a country’s development…Without them, there can be no future.”

To this end, Youth Alive Foundation and its partners seek to enact a law in Akwa Ibom state that 10% from the oil derivation fund accruing to the state be used to set up a Youth Development Fund that targets youth civic engagement, entrepreneurship development, technical and vocational skills development and public/private partnership. The purpose of the 13% derivation fund is to financially empower the oil-producing states of the Niger Delta to tackle the monumental neglect and underdevelopment of the region.

This advocacy campaign is tagged #10Percent4Youths and Akwa Ibom state will be the launching pad for the campaign with plans to scale up to other Niger Delta states.A key component of the project is to mobilize the public to support and drive the campaign and utilise mass media and electronic media to pressure legislators and policy makers to pass this law.

What this policy would achieve:
1. Increased employability skills for the youths.
2. Funding to support youth entrepreneurs.
3. Increased funding to new business start-ups by youth with high potential for job creation.
4. Increased job opportunities for youths

The #10Percent4Youths Advocacy Campaign is implemented with support from USAID Nigeria and Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND).

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