The Niger Delta is faced with a crushing economic depression consequent upon the implementation of policies that have no direct positive effect on the populace. Hence the rate of unemployment has risen sharply and the various unemployed individual has resorted in adverse ugly means of making ends meet, thus causing different problems such as criminal activities, armed robbery, oil bunkering, kidnapping of oil workers, drug addiction, cultism, prostitution, fraud, youth militancy and arms proliferation just to mention but a few.
PROBLEMS OF UNEMPLOYMENT IN NIGERIA (A CASE STUDY OF THE NIGER DELTA) BY DENNIS OSSAI (B.Eng Chemical Engineering) (C) DECEMBER 2010 Dennis Ossai Page 1 CERTIFICATION Dennis Ossai Page 2 DEDICATION This research is dedicated to all unemployed youth in the Niger-Delta of Nigeria. Dennis Ossai Page 3 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT How does a person say thank you when there are so many people to thank. First and foremost, I give my thanks to God Almighty and his beloved son Jesus Christ for his guidance, protection and favour all through my career. I deeply appreciate my supervisor who not only supervised this work but gave every support all through the period of this onerous task and for making it a success. Need I mention the encouragement of my lecturers friends; to you all I say many thanks. I am deeply indebted to my wonderful family, my siblings and my wonderful wife and our lovely kids. Many thanks also go to my friends and colleagues. Thanks for all your supportive roles. I would like to thank all those who contributed in one way or another to the success of my project. Space will not permit me to mention their names, but I will not fail to mention Engr. Owen. Thanks for picking up the pieces of this work in my computer and putting them together. I also like TO THANK Papa and Mama Ayo Oritsejafor and all brethren of Word of Life Bible Church and RCCG World Wide. Thanks for your prayers and encouragement. Dennis Ossai Dennis Ossai Page 4 ABSTRACT Unemployment is a term used for the unemployed citizens of a nation or state who are without employment. These unemployed individuals are people among the active population who are without work but available for and seeking work. This also includes people who have lost their jobs and those who have voluntarily left work. The research was based on the Niger Delta region whereby analysis was worked upon to see how the problems of unemployment can be controlled. The Niger Delta is faced with a crushing economic depression consequent upon the implementation of policies that have no direct positive effect on the populace. Hence the rate of unemployment has risen sharply and the various unemployed individual has resorted in adverse ugly means of making ends meet, thus causing different problems such as criminal activities, armed robbery, oil bunkering, kidnapping of oil workers, drug addiction, cultism, prostitution, fraud, youth militancy and arms proliferation just to mention but a few. In other to find a lasting solution to these problems of unemployment, there must be a change. Change in the attitude and policies of the government in creating the right environment by putting its industries in good shape so as to absorb some of these unemployed youth. Another aspect to look into is the disbursement of loans to serious minded individual who have a desire of becoming self employed. Although the biggest obstacle to a scheme like this is the rampant fraud in the region, since some people will want to take loan never to return again. Thus there should be a policy to see to that effect and there should also be a change in the attitude of the citizen to be honest with one another in other to achieve success. But without such a framework, as wealth continues to concentrate in few peoples hand, persistent sharp inequality would have dire consequences on human development, economic growth and social stability. Dennis Ossai Page 5 CHAPTER ONE 1.0 INTRODUCTION Nigeria, officially known as Federal Republic of Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. Nigeria has an area of about 923,768 sqkm (356,669 sqmile) and it’s name is derived from its major river, the Niger. Abuja is the capital and Lagos is the largest city. It became an independent state and member of the Commonwealth of Nations on 1st October, 1960. Much of Nigeria consists of a low Plateau cut by rivers, especially the Niger and Benue. Most of the country is suitable for agriculture and its major non-agricultural economic resources are its massive offshore petroleum and natural gas deposits. The Niger Delta is the largest in Africa covering an area of about 36,300 sqkm (14,000 sqmile) and most of these petroleum and natural gas are found in the Niger Delta. It will be noted that despite the huge human and natural resources, many Nigerians are still unemployed and underemployed. It is within this context that this research work was carried out, and my main focus will be on the Niger Delta region. The Niger Delta comprises nine (9) states namely Delta, Rivers, Edo, Bayelsa, Imo, Abia, Ondo, Cross River and Akwa Ibom. The Niger Delta contributes to about 70% of Nigeria’s economy. The land is blessed with oil and this oil has brought mixed blessings to Nigeria. For the majority ethnic groups, especially those living in the urban areas, oil have brought about unparallel and increased welfare. Paradoxically, for the entire Niger Delta region where the oil is found it has been sorrow, tears and blood. Following this scenario therefore, it is not surprising that the potential wealth of the Niger Delta has turned into an apparent poverty. Majority of the Dennis Ossai Page 6 Niger Delta people are living a subhuman life. This is because they happen to be minorities and powerless and there are no jobs to make ends meet. It is therefore not surprising that from Odi to Choba, Warri to Yenagoa, Ilaje to Ogoni land, Okrika to Afam, and from Andoni to Eleme, what we have is monumental cases of economic desolation, environmental degradation, social disarticulation, excruciating poverty and unparallel youth unemployment. In the Niger Delta, about 40% of the regions young adults are unemployed. This figure is twice Nigeria’s national average and this has led to problems and unrest in the country, ranging from illegal bunkering, violence, arms proliferation, kidnapping, youth militancy and robbery just to mention a few. 1.1 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY The objective of this project study is to ascertain the problems of unemployment in Nigeria, and my main focus is on the Niger Delta as a case study. 1.2 SCOPE OF THE STUDY Statistics shows that in the Niger Delta region about 40% of the regions young adults between 15 and 35 years old are unemployed. Thus this has led to many youths loosing proper sense of direction and there has been many unrest in the Niger Delta region and in Nigeria at large. Dennis Ossai Page 7 1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY Nigeria today depend mainly on oil and these oil are obtained from the oil rich Niger Delta. Because of the increase in unemployment, most of these unemployed youth are now rebels who inflict economic hardship on the Nigerian government and its trading partners. They now kidnap oil workers to gain revenue from ransom payments. As a result of this, some companies have temporarily shutdown operations and now question future investment due to lack of security. Thus it is high time we address these problems unemployment has caused. Dennis Ossai Page 8 CHAPTER TWO 2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW There seems to be a consensus on the definition of unemployment. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines the unemployed as “numbers of the economically active population who are without work but available for and seeking work, including people who have lost their jobs and those who have voluntarily left work” (World Bank Report, 1998). Although there seems to be a convergence on this definition, its application has been followed with series of problems across countries. First, most published unemployment rates are recorded as open unemployment. People’s attitude on this varies from country to country. While this may be high in developed countries and where government is committed to resolving unemployment problems, it is likely to be very low in countries with the opposite attributes. In most countries, particularly Nigeria, people below the ages of 15 years and those above the age of 55, who are actively engage in economic activities, is usually excluded from Labour Statistical Surveys. 2.1 THE NATIONAL DIRECTORATE OF EMPLOYMENT In Nigeria, the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) recently released a frightening figure of graduate unemployment in the country. According to the Director- General of the organization, Mr. Samuel Adedokun, over 200,000 graduates with NYSC discharge certificates issued in the last five years are unemployed. This crop of educated manpower is roaming about the streets apparently doing nothing to contribute to national development. They have become burdens to their families instead of helping to mentor Dennis Ossai Page 9 others to grow. The NDE’s figure was obtained through a national registration of the unemployed. According to the Director-General, the NDE has concluded the registration of unemployed Nigerians in 8,812,000 wards nationwide. Whereas the total figure of the unemployed is not yet released, and there is reason to believe that it would be very alarming. Some people may wonder why the NDE is fiddling with unemployment figures rather than announcing the number of people it has employed. There is a misconception about what the NDE stands for. Many people think that the NDE was established to give employment, which is not actually the case. Giving the adverse economic situation in the Niger Delta, it is foolhardy to expect miracle to happen in the employment market that would absorb the teeming unemployed youths. This is because the industrial sector is comatose. There is no productivity and the real sector is not working. 2.2 PRODUCTIVITY AND UNEMPLOYMENT Productivity and unemployment are issues that are central to the social and economic life of every country. The extant literature refers to productivity and unemployment as constituting a vicious circle that explains the endemic nature of poverty in developing countries and in the Niger Delta of Nigeria in particular. Thus, it has been argued that continuous improvement in productivity is the surest way to breaking this vicious circle. Growth in productivity provides a significant basis for adequate supply of goods and services thereby improving the welfare of the people and enhancing social progress. It will be noted that without productivity there would be no growth in per capital income, and inflation control would be more difficult. During my research, it was Dennis Ossai Page 10 observed that continuous enhancement of productivity has been very central to the brilliant performance of the Asian Tigers and Japan in recent years. Recent developments in the world economy have also shown that countries with high productivity are not only central to the determination of global balance of powers (e.g Japan and Germany), but also serve as centres of stimulus, where world resources (including labour) are redirected to, as opposed to countries with low or declining productivity. Recent studies, for example shows that high productivity increases competitiveness in terms of penetration the world market. Thus a country with high productivity is often characterized by a very high capacity utilization (i.e. optimal use of resources), high standard of living, low rate of unemployment and social progress. Unemployment, on the other hand, has been categorized as one of the serious impediments to social progress. Apart from representing a colossal waste of a country’s manpower resources, it generates welfare loss in terms of lower output thereby leading to lower income and well-being. Unemployment is a very serious issue in Africa and particularly in Nigeria. 2.3 THE NIGER DELTA AT CROSSROADS It is now clear that the gate of unemployment crisis in the Niger Delta has assumed frightening dimension. According to the National President, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Mr. Promise Kanayo Adewusi said that the biggest problem as regards unemployment remained the fact that governments at different levels were the biggest employers of labour. But this ought not to be so, Dennis Ossai Page 11 because in any emerging virile economy, the private sector which in such economies are the largest employers, drive in the economy. In the Niger Delta, this is a different example, because the productive sector otherwise known as the real sector are all in a state of coma arising from inconsistencies which at times was as a result of outright incompetence of government policies bordering on lack of focus, collapse of basic developmental infrastructures like electricity and transportation. These lacks of infrastructures have been a big blow on the private sector, thereby making the sector to work in an ineffective capacity. Thus the textiles, iron and steel and railway industries which used to absorb a larger percentage of the labour force are all virtually in a state of comatose. 2.4 STRUCTURAL TRANSFORMATION The high rate of unemployment in the Niger Delta can be attributed to structural transformation of the economy in the last two decades. During this period, the Niger Delta was left to the forces of free global economy with the hope that this will increase growth and reduce unemployment and poverty. Although the problems of unemployment remained a global trend which is not limited to the Niger Delta alone, it was observed that in the Niger Delta the genesis of the problems started with the death of the various trade centres spread across the Niger Delta region. Before now, it was a trend to see people learning one form of trade or the other at these centres which was under the supervision of the Ministry of Labour and Productivity. But gradually this process has turned into extinction. Dennis Ossai Page 12 2.5 GOVERNMENTAL POLICIES Most of government policies implemented during this period addressed macro economic issues that have little impact on the people. The micro economic issues that should address real problems at the grassroots were ignored. It is now obvious that the macro economic policies alone cannot solve the fundamental issues of unemployment and poverty. What this requires is a re-thinking in the way things have been done so far. There is need for a fundamental change which will stimulate a drastic policy re- orientation focusing on the people and their basic needs. Thus there can be no real development in the Niger Delta when the masses of the people are wallowing in object poverty and deprivation. Another policy is the over dependence on certificates which has remained a problem that had added to increasing rate of unemployment. Most employers of labour including the government are not helping matters due to over dependence on certificates. For instance, the policy that seeks to place university graduates above those of the polytechnics is a worrisome trend. Though the government has come out to say that both certificates are now at par, that is just a policy statement, but in practice the discrimination is still there. It was clear to note that both forms of education were set out to achieve different purposes. While the former is meant to produce high level manpower, the latter is meant to produce middle level manpower through technical education for various industries. Dennis Ossai Page 13 2.6 THE UNEMPLOYMENT CRISIS The unemployment crisis in the Niger Delta remains the most potent factor that is fuelling crisis across the Niger Delta and the federation at large. There is no doubt that youth unemployment and poverty pose a great challenge to security and stability in the Niger Delta. The trend sharply contrast the targeted Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that require governments “to develop and implement strategies that give young people everywhere a real chance to find decent and productive work”. But available evidences show that the strategies being adopted by the government have not been effective. In fact, they have pushed the number of the unemployed to higher levels. This is further worsened by the lack of definite youth engagement programmes. The youths are apparently socially excluded. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), “the link between youth unemployment and social exclusion has been clearly established; an inability to find job creates a sense of vulnerability, uselessness and idleness among young people and can heighten the attraction of engaging in illegal activities”. Thus as earlier indicated, most of the crimes witnessed today in the Niger Delta owe much to youth unemployment. 2.7 PRESIDENCY AND THE NIGER DELTA Since the discovering of oil in Nigeria, the government has refused to de- emphasis her dependence on oil as a major growth of the economy, thus the country’s over dependence on oil has deprived other sectors of the economy of improving. Consequently, the oil industry in the Niger Delta has inflicted unprecedented agony on Dennis Ossai Page 14 the indigens by completely disrupting the water ways destroying soil, water, air, animal and plant life through oil spillage and gas flaring and indeed cutting off all the means of livelihood of the communities. According to the Ogoni Bill of Rights, it equally lamented the paradox of poverty in the oasis of wealth in Nigeria. The bill declared that “oil and gas have only brought misery to Ogoni people. It has deprived them of farmlands and polluted their streams”. The Niger Delta people should be rich, and not to be faced with poverty, poor education, health and other amenities all in a parlous state. The Niger Delta people are hungry, malnourished and powerless in the dynamic power calculus between the imperialist forces represented by the multinational oil corporations and the ruling oligarchy in Nigeria, represented by the major ethnic groups (i.e. Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo). The agitation, resistance and protest of the people of the Niger Delta have been met with continuous state violence and brutalization. This started with the suppression and repression of Isaac Jaspa Adaka Boro insurrection in the Niger Delta in 1966. The trial and death sentence passed on Boro, Dick Nottingham and Samuel Owonaru for committing treason against the Nigerian state was the beginning of the massive bloodletting by the Nigerian political class against the Niger Delta people. This pattern has become institutionalized. The massive oil wealth was not only instrumental to the attraction of the military to power in Nigeria; military rule also served the purpose of the ruling policies in their grand exclusion, suppression and exploitation of the Niger Delta people. The military, especially during the Babangida and Abacha regimes acted like soldiers of occupation in the Niger Delta. The people were seriously violated and suffered serious degrading Dennis Ossai Page 15 abuses. It was because of all these that people of the Niger Delta through various organizations and platforms call for justice and the control over their God-given resources. The failure of constitutional mechanism to redress these apparent injustices was at the root of the escalating conflicts and violence in the Niger Delta area. This struggle for equity, justice and development was internationalized by the late Ken Saro Wiwa and his Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) after the judicial murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his Ogoni eight, co-workers who died by hanging. During the Obasanjo civilian administration, the Delta State Governor Chief James Onanefe Ibori called all Niger Delta state governors to continue the resource control struggle which was spearheaded by the Delta State governor. They reach an agreement with the Federal Government with the passage into law the payment of 13% derivation fund from the oil wealth to the various Niger Delta States, with this the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was established. Without any equivocation, oil in the Nigeria political economy evidence shows internal colonialism and domestic oppression. No wonder international best-practices are not given consideration in the operations of the multinational oil companies working in the Niger Delta. 2.8 ATTITUDE OF MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES In the oil industry, the major oil companies in the Niger Delta are Shell, Chevron, Agip, Texaco, Elf and Mobil. In the region, there has been different accusation of human rights violations and environmental disregard against these companies. Shell, which controls more than 50 percent of the Niger Delta’s oil operations, was the firm most Dennis Ossai Page 16 commonly accused. In 1993, it was a fact that Shell oil was barred from Ogoni land in Rivers State when the popular Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) was at its peak on demonstrations against the multinationals. At least three major oil spills were recorded in the Niger Delta each month on the average. Forty-year-old pipes, rusty and in disrepair, criss-cross the land in cumbersome clusters. Oil companies often are slow to repair leaking pipes. These unprepared buried pipelines sometimes spill more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil monthly. In the spillage area, you see a thick brownish film of crude oil staining the entire area. They also clump along the shoreline and covering the surface of the still water. With the people in the village lacking any other alternative, they are forced to drink polluted water for years and many people had become ill while some have died. Also in Akwa Ibom State, Iko was a community which once made its living by fishing and farming. The community was economically stable and self supporting until Shell oil arrived in 1974. The company makes living from the nature’s bounty impossible. Repeated oil leaks killed parts of the forest and gas flares poisoned the air and drinking water. In 1987, the community leaders asked Shell for compensation for their lost resources and for a solution to their environmental problems. Shell alerted the Mobile Police, who invaded the village at night, burning down many houses and killing a schoolteacher. Shell then built the villagers a fish-drying station and fish-processing plant. But fishing was now nearly impossible and, to add insult to injury, Shell provided no generator or electric power to run the new plant. In the Niger Delta there are several hospitals supported by these oil companies that are nearly in ruins. They are understaffed, and the remaining staffs are unpaid for months. Windows were broken in Dennis Ossai Page 17 some hospitals, medicines and equipment were lacking, and the conditions were unsanitary; thus there are also no clean water. Dennis Ossai Page 18 CHAPTER THREE 3.0 CONCEPTUAL AND THEORETICAL ISSUES The literature is composed with varied categorizations of problems, unemployment has caused in the Niger Delta. It is therefore important to make some clarifications on these issues. 3.1 SOME PROBLEMS OF UNEMPLOYMENT In this project work, attempt was made in giving clear observation on major problems facing the Niger Delta. However, from my study, about 80% of the problems in the Niger Delta is centered on oil. The Niger Delta people believe that there is massive wealth in oil which is gotten from their land, thus since there are no employment in these oil industries and government are not paying attention to the people, they engage in various social vices to earn a living. Below is a list of problems of unemployment faced in the Niger Delta. (i) OIL BUNKERING It is thought that millions of dollars worth of oil are being stolen everyday. Oil companies claimed that between 160,000 to 200,000 barrels per day, worth about US $8 million, are being stolen due to illegal oil bunkering. According to Shell Nigeria one of the oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region, illegal theft of oil increased by 5 times leading up to the 2003 elections. The company believed that some corrupt government officials also engage most youth in this act and the money made from the oil sales was used in purchasing weapons used during elections. Dennis Ossai Page 19 (ii) ROBBERY AND INSECURITY The unemployment crisis is responsible for the insecurity in the Niger Delta (an idle man is the devil’s workshop). The millions of unemployed youths are easily lured into all kinds of crime. The entire Niger Delta is under the siege of robbers, and some of the robbery cases are been committed by young unemployed youth who sometimes are graduates. It is hard to believe, but when you listen to their confessional statements on television only then can one know that some of them are truly graduates. (iii) ARMS PROLIFERATION AND VIOLENCE It is thought that millions of dollars worth of oil are being stolen everyday through bunkering and other illegal means, and the money made from the sale is used in the purchase of weapons. According to Dokubo Asari and I quote “we take the oil on our land, we take it and use it the way we want to, and there is nothing the Nigerian state can do about it. The oil belongs to our people, and we have every right to take it and we sell it”. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has estimated that 8 million illicit weapons are in the Niger Delta region. These include AK-47s, Beretta pistols and rocket-propelled grenades. In its bid to quench violence in the Niger Delta region, the Shell oil corporation stated that it had in the past imported side arms on behalf of the Nigerian police force, for use by the “Supernumerary Police” who guard the company’s facilities against general crime. Court papers filed in Lagos in July 1995 and reported in the British Press in February 1996 revealed that Shell had, as late as February 1995, been negotiating for the Dennis Ossai Page 20 purchase of weapons for the Nigerian police. The weapons on order were Beretta, semi- automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns. According to a 2003 International Consultancy Study financed by Royal Ducth Shell, violence in the Niger Delta claimed on average of 1,000 lives each year. (iv) YOUTH RESTIVENESS AND MILITANCY Due to the unrest in the Niger Delta by youth who are also known as rebels in the region, there has been a new contributor to the influx in oil prices. These rebels in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta have proven repeatedly that they can affect oil prices globally. The US-Nigeria relations are based on common economic, security and political interest. Nigeria is the fifth largest supplier of oil to the United States, providing about 11% of annual imports. By importing from Nigeria, the US diversifies and reduces dependency on the Middle East as an energy source. With its oil production expected to increase significantly by 2015, Nigeria is a partner of growing importance. Thus the US and Nigeria government have been making effort to protect oil infrastructure in the Niger Delta. Yet there have been various threats to this relationship. It will be stated that these militant youth who have had presence since oil drilling first began in Nigeria in 1952 has increased their attack on oil wells, pipelines and tankers in the Niger Delta. This has reduced Nigerian production by 25%. The loss in revenue to Nigeria amounts to almost $1 billion dollars a month. While the Nigerian government has nominally employed a number of tactics in effort to quell the violence in the region, its military efforts have been ineffective and perhaps counterproductive. Overzealous military responses have emboldened militias and have punished innocent civilians. Dennis Ossai Page 21 (v) KIDNAPPING OF OIL WORKERS In time past, there have been various kidnap of oil workers in the Niger Delta. These militants move about in the creeks where they make series of abduction on oil workers. At times these kidnaps are followed by sporadic gun shot into the air. They demand for huge amount as ransom for the release of these workers who are mostly expatriates. Thus, hostage-taking is now big business in the Niger Delta. (vi) MILITANT SIZE Leader of the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF) Alhaji Mujaheed Asari-Dokubo claimed to have more than 10,000 militants ready to fight at the time of his arrest. Asari Dokubo who was arrested in September 2005 and arraigned before an Abuja High Court in October 2005 on a five-count charge of conspiracy, treasonable felony, forming, managing and assisting to manage an unlawful society, publishing false statement and being a member of an unlawful society, all these, he pleaded not guilty to. The leader of the NDPVF who was granted bail on Thursday June 14, 2007 after 21 months of incarceration spoke during a special interview with National Mirror Newspaper on Wednesday, June 20, 2007, stated and I quote “I am not a militant, I am an Ijaw nationalist in the Ijaw nationalist struggle”. Other groups that increase this militant size apart from the NDPVF include the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), the Ijaw National Council (INC) and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). Dennis Ossai Page 22 (vii) DRUG ADDICTION Drug addiction is the habit of constant in-take of drugs without doctor’s prescription. Some of the drugs abused are Tranquilizers like drugs that send one to sleep. Some abuse intoxicants, those are drugs that stimulate the nerves like Narcotic, Hallucinogen like heroine and marijuana, alcohol, amphetamine and cocaine. Unemployment has forced many youths both male and female into drug abuse and addiction. In the Niger Delta, many youths and even adults indulge in drug addiction to overcome the problems they face by their parents and others who show lack of appreciation to them since they are jobless. Also some drug dealers involve these unemployed youth in their illicit act and wares. These youth are influenced by the drug barons because of the way they exhibit wealth, and so they go into drug abuse and addiction. A close observation of wake-keep, parties and other gatherings in the region shows that most youth in such gathering smoke marijuana/Indian hemp. The immediate result is usually abnormal behaviours, sexual abuse, rebellion, violence and assaults on all and sundry. Thus, they end up joining bad gangs, secret societies and robbers. (viii) PROSTITUTION AND CHILD TRAFFICKING Unemployment has forced many young girls into prostitution. Most hit by this trend are girls between 17 and 28 years of age. Because of poverty, many can’t make ends meet, thus they engage in this illicit incidence of sex trade to make a living. It will be noted that the dreaded human killer disease AIDS cannot deter these daughters of eve. Many young girls are trafficked out of the country with their consent and understanding of the purpose of trade in sex. Dennis Ossai Page 23 Children below the ages of 15 are also engaged in child trafficking for money. Some of these children are used as house helps and sales representatives, and many have been sexually abused in the process. (ix) CULTISM Secret cult could be traced down to the Egyptians. However, it started existing in Nigeria before the coming of colonial masters. The first secret society in Nigeria higher institution was called the seadogs (pirate). It was founded by Prof. Wole Soyinka, Olumuijiwa Are, Ralph Opara, D Aig-Imokhuede, Tunji Tubi and Olu Agunloye. The sole objective of forming the cult group was to fight colonialism. Its members never operated in secret. They were engaged in humanitarian activities such as donation of blood to hospitals to save lives, presentation of gifts to orphanages. It was from the Pirate that other groups emerged, Buccaneers break off in 1972. Later, Vikings came into being, later the Black-axe, Eiye, Mafia, Maphites, Klansman, Confraternity, Black Beret, Black Cat, Black Cross, Jurist, Mgba-mgba, Thomas Sankara Boys, Black Brassier ladies, Daughters of Jezebel, Bulky Sisters, Black Cobra and so on. The proliferation of secret societies gave birth to diversified ills, which is synonymous with cultism today in our higher institution and now filtering into the secondary and primary schools and the larger society at large. Cultism deviated from the original intention of national development to murder, armed robbery, rapes, illicit killings of fellow human being and others. Many innocent youths in the Niger Delta who don’t have anything doing have been lured into joining different cult group. Many of them join these cult groups for the Dennis Ossai Page 24 purpose of getting quick wealth, while in some other cult groups; a new member is seen as a moneybag. Levies and taxes are imposed on members. Since they are under oath, they are compelled to pay their dues without question. This is why many youth steal to meet up with the obligation. In some streets in Port Harcourt, cult members attack strangers and visitors they are seen putting on a red shirt or any red top. Also in the Niger Delta, there have been various clashes between rival cult group trying to outdo each other and win supremacy at the expense of national peace. (x) FRAUD, CORRUPTION AND INDISCIPLINE Many people in the Niger Delta are now involved in 419 (Fraud Stars) because of unemployment and the poverty situation. Some have entered into business importing expired goods, substandard goods, fake drugs, chemicals, food, electrical appliances, cement, paints, consumable and inconsumable items. Most people in the area especially the youths are engaged in various internet frauds where they dupe different individual huge some of money. These youths who are fondly called “Yahoo Yahoo boys” engaged themselves in other corrupt practices and they do all sort of things to make money through internet scam. Nowadays in the Niger Delta, there is proliferation, of churches that have diverted from spiritual upliftment to miracles and prosperity, thus causing confusion in families because of false prophesy and extorting money from unsuspecting miracle seekers. Many private schools sprout up in coarse environment with untrained teachers thereby destroying the future of young generations and lowering the standard of education. Dennis Ossai Page 25 Indiscipline on the other hand is lack of discipline which has given birth to various forms of social vices. Although the government is the architect of indiscipline, they make laws that are never implemented. They encourage bribery and corruption and scarcely provide infrastructure and amenities to the people. They are corrupt and exhibit the highest level of indiscipline through the judiciary, disobeying orders, swallowing and diverting public fund, driving recklessly, jumping queue at pump station and when driving and telling lies to the public. They also rig elections by using youths as thug, giving them guns and dangerous weapons and intoxicant to drink and kill at random without regards for human dignity. They neglect industries and other government investments and sometimes convert them to personal properties and hence creating and perpetuating unemployment. Many people in the region are involved in various forms of indiscipline ranging from bribery, lawlessness, disobedience of the law and vandalization of community projects like electricity, oil pipeline and road just to mention a few of them. As Nigeria commits itself to the goals of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) the task of eradicating poverty cannot be realized in a region riddled with mass unemployment, rising crime wave and various social vices. Taking into cognizance the unrest enveloping the Niger Delta, it is important to state out some useful solutions which can help in tackling these Herculean problems of unemployment in the Niger Delta region. Dennis Ossai Page 26 CHAPTER FOUR 4.0 SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM The need to avert the negative effects unemployment has caused in the Niger Delta has featured prominently in the development objectives of many issues and policies in the region, yet no adequate solution has been achieved. Incidentally, most of these solutions proposed are also characterized by lack of seriousness from the people involved to follow up what they have started. In view of the unfolding reality coupled with the protracted debates on solution to this problem, this chapter specifically examines the different dimensions of solution to the problems of unemployment in the Niger Delta as well as the direction of casualty made. 4.1 THE NATIONAL DIRECTORATE OF EMPLOYMENT Twenty-four years down the road since its establishment, there has been various achievement and constraints facing the organization. Thus there is need to focus on these problems and proffer solutions to the employment generator if the Niger Delta ever hope to come out of the dungeon of unemployment. In pursuance of its objectives, it was observed that the Federal Government established the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) to empower the unskilled youths and other members of the public to acquire marketable skills that would help them set up their own business, thus combating the unemployment problem. It is a clear fact that the organization pursues its goal by organizing training sessions in collaboration with different organization. The thrust of NDE’s work is to promote entrepreneurship among the unemployed by taking full Dennis Ossai Page 27 responsibility of designing and implementing programmes that will assist in combating the evils of unemployment. Its work also involves making articulating policies aimed at developing programmes that could widen the employment potential of the Niger Delta and obtaining and maintaining data bank that would assist government create the much needed bridge between seekers of jobs and providers of jobs. In this sense, the NDE is expected to have the necessary information that could assist with adequate information about vacancies in both private and government ministries and agencies. Although the agency has over the years been engaged in pursuing programmes that could impart positive skills to the youth of the Niger Delta and thus reduce the level of dependence on government jobs, but in a period characterized by shrinking job opportunities in the public sector, the only option is to direct attention to skills required to push for the development of the informal sector that has suffered neglect over the years. As a matter of fact nearly two and half decades of its existence, nothing is wrong in creating an organization like the NDE to help the unemployed youths get skill. But looking at the harsh economic situation we face in the Niger Delta, one would appreciate if the gap between acquiring skill and employing that skill in income generating economic activity is eliminated. For example, imagine the NDE training a batch of youths to acquire basic computer skills. That should not be the end of the exercise. The NDE should be in a position to enhance the chances of those that have gone through its training and acquired skills to engage in appropriate work. There are two ways by which the trainees can be engaged. Dennis Ossai Page 28 One is to get formal employment in the job market. This is the major problem some of these youth face after their training. It is clear that the job market is saturated and can only employ a handful of job seekers, but if the NDE can assist these trainees, then the chances of getting the job is increased. The second option is for the trainee to set up his or her own small-scale business. There are unlimited opportunities in this direction. It is also the goal of the NDE that those it trained should set up their own business. But experience has shown that it is at this stage that the trainees get stuck. They would need some loan to start off any business they so desire, but how to overcome this hurdle is a problem. Thus the NDE can provide loans to these youth who needs to be motivated. They need to be financed because a lot of youth in the Niger Delta have ideas but there is no capital base to start up. Most youth wants to be employer of labour rather than looking for employment. They need to be mobilized financially. 4.2 ISSUES OF LOAN It would be recalled that the defunct peoples Bank of Nigeria (PBN) was set up alongside the NDE to provide funding for enterprises being set up by graduates of NDE training programmes. But sadly enough, the PBN wobbled and failed to live up to its expectation. As a result government scrapped it. The scrapping of the PBN, which was meant to empower people in the rural areas and tackle unemployment, was also seen as one of the factors that truncated the efforts of the NDE. Consequently those trainees who would have benefited from the micro-finance of the bank could no longer access such loan. Dennis Ossai Page 29 Since then, there has been no other policy to address the entrepreneur development programme of the NDE. It is also not clear if the micro-finance banks which are currently being pushed forward by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are meant to serve that purpose. The truth is that there are many youths out there in the Niger Delta who are willing to set up their own enterprises but who cannot get the needed financial support to do that. Based on the foregoing, I challenged the government at all levels to provide the enabling environment and policies which can allow easy process of obtaining loans. Moreover, it is clear that the problems of accessing loans remained that of integrity on the part of the benefactor, because one of the problem most banks face when it comes to the disbursement of loans is that, a lot of people take loans never to return again. Thus it is good that the benefactors should try and work on their integrity. Hence I call on the government to liberalize the conditions for bank loans a little, since the condition has remained cumbersome and stringent. In the case of serious minded graduates, the government should also create a situation whereby degree certificates can be deposited to the banks as a form of collaterals. 4.3 PRODUCTIVITY AND THE INDUSTRIAL SECTOR For a country like ours that consume so much, the development of the industrial sector is also a major answer to the problems of unemployment because it remains the highest employer of labour. But the industrial sector in the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large is moribund and extinct due to mismanagement, lack of constant power supply, lack of maintenance culture etc. In our schools people are taught how to start up small scale Dennis Ossai Page 30 industrial list of business, but they could not survive in it since the basic infrastructure are not on ground thus making the entrepreneurial skills an effort in futility. During my research I found out those countries with high rate of productivity. An example is China, with the help of their industries they produce and export most of their products and make good money from their products. Thus China has been invited to join the world super powers also known as the G8. Here in the Niger Delta and in Nigeria at large, we depend on imported products since there are no industries to produce our needs. The Delta Steel Company (DSC) and the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company (WRPC) are all capable of absorbing at least seven thousand (7,000) workers, thus reducing the number of unemployment. The same goes for other refineries and industries in the region, but it is a clear fact that all these industries are all in an epileptic state. In other to find a solution to this scourge called unemployment, the government needs to renovate the steel and oil industries and every other industry in the region since they remain the highest employer of labour. Thus many youth can be absorbed into these companies instead of roaming about in the street doing nothing. Moreover, since Nigeria is among the consuming nation, individuals, cooperate bodies and politicians can invest in funding the creation of different industries that produce important products, instead of putting their monies in foreign accounts and investing in foreign countries. The industries created here in Nigeria will help to employ various individuals thus reducing the rate of unemployment, importation and hence elevate our economy. Dennis Ossai Page 31 4.4 THE PRIVATE SECTOR This includes different outfits which are not funded by the government. We have them scattered everywhere like in the agricultural/agro-Allied sector, banking sector, airline services, automobile tyre, breweries, construction and building materials, chemical and paints industries, commercial services, conglomerates, food/beverages, footwear, healthcare, hotel and tourism, IT and telecommunication, insurance, petroleum marketers, road transporters, textiles, estate agent, packaging companies, maritime, leasing, mortgage companies, private schools, etc. These different private organizations have helped in one way or the other in employing different individuals, but more is still expected from them. Anyway, kudos should be given to the private sector operators especially those operating in the telecommunications sector, e.g. MTN, Celtel and Globacom. With at least few years that they came into existence in Nigeria they had succeeded in pulling out some youth from the joblessness category irrespective of the inadequacies prevalent in this sector like epileptic power supply. In this regard, this sector is still striving and employing people not withstanding the additional cost of production they have to contend with through the use of generators. Many youths in the Niger Delta are now engage in business either by making public pay phone centers or by selling and distribution of recharge cards. 4.5 GRADUATE UNEMPLOYMENT The issue of graduate unemployment can be addressed through a conscious programme that would enhance the capacity of graduates to start up businesses without many hurdles. It is a clear fact that the NDE was not set up to address the unemployment Dennis Ossai Page 32 crisis plaguing university graduates and graduates of other tertiary institutions. Since the organization (NDE) focuses on organizing training programmes mainly for the unskilled, there is apparently no room for university graduates in its scheme. Without being expanded, the NDE is not equipped to cater for the needs of tertiary institution graduates. Now, you see a graduate of medicine entering into politics, graduates of engineering now works in a bank and graduate of agriculture looking for a white collar job. This should not be so, government at federal, state and local level should go into mechanized farming so that it would provide opportunities for the Niger Delta youth and Nigerians to be employed. Having acquired skills, what the graduates need is a policy framework that would give them financial support to start up their own business. To achieve this, the NDE should be expanded to facilitate graduate enterprise development. Under the programme, prospective graduates who wish to set up their own businesses would be required to develop the proposals of what they intend to do. The micro-finance banks must play a major role in this framework. The NDE would act as the clearing house and intermediary between the prospective graduate entrepreneur and the finance banks for purpose of securing loan for the start up of the business. 4.6 THE GOVERNMENT As I carried out my research, I noticed that the government does not have the right database and statistics of graduates that are unemployed. And again there should be random sampling of our needs in the society. Based on this, graduates can be turned and trained on those areas that manpower is needed. As it is now, the government has got it wrong as a station, and they need to go back to the basics. With the high figure of Dennis Ossai Page 33 unemployed graduates, it is clear that the various agencies concerned with employment had failed in the discharge of their responsibilities. Hence these agencies has a role to play by telling and educating the populace on what they were doing and how far they had gone in addressing the unbated scourge of unemployment especially among the youths. It is clear fact that an average youth in the Niger Delta is instilled with creativity and as such did not need any form of formal training to discover the best in him or her. Specifically one does not need to be thought entrepreneur skill in the university before such a person could make use of such skilled instilled in him. This does not mean that courses on entrepreneurship skill should be discouraged in the university. Thus the government should be responsible for creating employment likewise creating the enabling environment for business to thrive. Despite the fact that government claimed there had been embargo on employment, it was observed that children of the big shots in the society with connection still found their way into the system ditto for loans from government agencies for unemployed graduates to start small business. With this, it is clear that the government is not sincere on its approach towards jobs creation. As the Yar’Adua government tries to mark its way to success on its seven (7) point agenda, it is imperative for both the federal and state governments to give room for fundamental changes in policies to more humane micro-economic social development framework that is directed to job led economic growth. An employment plan should be drawn at all the tires of government. Dennis Ossai Page 34 CHAPTER FIVE 5.0 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION 5.1 CONCLUSION It is now obvious that the unemployment situation in the Niger Delta is unacceptable and it is the reason behind the constant social upheavals in the region. The devil they say, finds work for idle hands. The need to find a lasting solution to the problems of unemployment should be in everyone interest and not to leave it for the government alone. During my research, I had numerous discussions with a lot of people about these problems and one of the things people like myself are trying to do is to look at ways in which the governments and other non governmental organization (NGOs) can provide low cost loans and financial incentives to skilled youths and unemployed graduates to make them to be self employed. In the main time, I believe there are so many opportunities in the Niger Delta, once you get out of the mindset of “just opening a shop and selling things”. People need to be innovative, like the Americans will say “if life hands you lemon make lemonade”. 5.2 RECOMMENDATION The under listed recommendation can be made on this project work in finding an appropriate solution to the problems of unemployment. Since we all know the problems and the causes, here are some projects which one can embark on so as to be self employed. (i) Building a solar powered water pump for use in rural areas or when there is a power failure. Dennis Ossai Page 35 (ii) Solar powered street lights, this was used at the Sydney Olympic village in Australia, and you will be surprised how easy it is to build with instructions from the internet. (iii) Hybrid powered generators using solar and battery power. (iv) Starting up things like sport schools or evening clubs that teach kids to play football, swim, etc. (v) Using ones knowledge in opening extra moral classes, computer training schools that specializes in teaching software (e.g. Java, Oracle, ASP, Cold Fusion, JSP), Digital photography or video editing, etc. (vi) Teaching of foreign languages like French and Chinese, if one have the knowledge because very soon China will be among the next superpower so we better equip ourselves. (vii) Starting a refuse collection company, or a drainage clearing company that would help clearing blocked drainage. (viii) Starting up a fish farm or poultry business. (ix) For people that have knowledge on civil construction, they can go into production of interlocking tiles. (x) Starting up temporary work agencies that provide temporary or contract staff to small and large companies. Based on limitations which include time, money and other resources, all these ideas will be difficult to operate if there are no sources of financial assistance. Thus the government and other non governmental organization have a role to play for easy access Dennis Ossai Page 36 to loans so as to support serious minded individual to become employer of labour rather than one looking for employment. Dennis Ossai Page 37 REFERENCES 1. Productivity and Unemployment in Nigeria by Mike I. Obadan & Ayodele F. Odusola National Centre for Economic Management and Administration (NCEMA). 2. Family Life Education for Greater Tomorrow by Chima Oken, Pg 22, 63, 69, 74, 81. 3. The Guardian Newspaper: Tuesday, September 4, 2007, Pg 79. 4. National Mirror: Wednesday, June 20, 2007, Pg 7. 5. Daily Champion: Thursday, June 21, 2007, Pg 14. 6. The Guardian Newspaper: Tuesday, September 18, 2007, Pg 37, 41, 43. 7. www.crisisgroup.org 8. www.nigerdeltacampaign.com 9. www.dailytrustnewspaper.com 10. www.nairaland.com 11. www.cenbank.org Dennis Ossai Page 38
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