The widespread unemployment in Nigeria and northern Nigeria in particular is the grease that smoothens the spread of abject poverty and insecurity in Nigeria. Though, there are other ‘peculiar’ socio-political factors including security lapses that are contributing to the recurring banditry in Zamfara state.
The hallmark of poverty and crimes in Nigeria is the high level of unemployment among her active-age citizens. If Nigeria can tackle the high rate of unemployment in the country by creation of productive employment for its millions of unemployed citizens and those engaged in unproductive-manual jobs, the doors to prosperity in the land will open, thus local banditry will defeat itself.
However, let’s not also forget that even in developed countries, unemployment rates may be high and availability of jobs also tends to fluctuate, creating periods of high joblessness. However, most stable and promising countries have systems in placed to cushion and tackle such situations. Nigeria being a country with high population, an unemployment level of only a few percentage means that millions of working-age people will be unemployed and unable to earn adequate income for a decent living. This should be an issue of great concern to northern Nigeria political leaders and managers of the some of the poorest states in Nigeria, which are mostly in the north. Zamfara is one of them.
The basic ingredient in the reduction of crimes and attainment of sustainable general social order in any society, is the availability of jobs for majority of the working population- especially the youth. Northern Nigerian leaders should make a bold move to save Zamfara and the north at large. But, Nigeria as a country has also failed in its attempt to fight abject poverty and create productive jobs. For instance, the Nigerian governments from 1960 to date have organised many summits; established quite a number of employment creation programmes, projects and policies, including the setting-up of employment agencies and programmes . However, the unemployment rate in Nigeria is growing astronomically. The big question is- what went wrong? Two issues of course: The old notion among policy formulators and managers of Nigeria’s economy that unemployment is wage unemployment and that it is an urban phenomenon. Second to this is, the near failure of most of the employment and poverty eradication programmes to encourage the youth, rural dwellers and the poor to participate in and benefit from the process. in adequate fund is also a factor.
Northern Nigerian states should study many of the jobs and wealth creation programmes and projects, but redesign them for better results. This will go a long way in increasing local output that will speed up and sustain economic growth within states, as well as, encourage the youth, private sector and the rural poor to be strong participants in the economy. Furthermore, there is need for the elimination of what experts call ‘disguised unemployment’- which prevails especially in the Nigerian agricultural sector.
Northern states should support small and growing business, entrepreneurship, vocational education and job centres; graduate employment and business process outsourcing, public work and local content development and innovations. However, there is need for these to be implemented in such a way that they encourage the youth, rural dwellers and the poor to participate in and benefit from the process, while also complementing them with lower taxes, reduction of interest rates as well as incentives to businesses.
One of the most important strategies to tackle unemployment is an agricultural entrepreneurship programme for youth. Northern states should go into partnership with private sector to establish productive merchandised farms, poultry, fisheries, dairy, snellnaries, plantations etc.
Employment and productive jobs creation are some of the best ways to fight crimes; Zamfara needs it, including restoration of social order, leadership political will and massive security intervention. Leadership political will and new security architecture should come first.
Zayyad I. Muhammad