According to the National Bureau of Statistics about 7.5 million Nigerians were literally doing nothing between January 2016 and December 2017. Indeed, out of a total labour force of 85.08 million people, over sixteen million were unemployed in the third quarter of 2017. In other words, by the fourth quarter of 2017, the percentage of unemployed or under-employed individuals within the labour force was over 40%.
These are staggering statistics, by any accounts. Unfortunately, the doom and gloom don’t end there.Youth unemployment, presently well over 33% is at the highest level in Nigeria’s history.If, like me, you are not an economist, then it is important we drill down a little further to get a better grasp of the ramifications of the above statistics.
What are the consequences of high unemployment?
As summarised by Investopedia, “Studies have shown that times of elevated unemployment often correlate with higher crime. Elevated crime makes sense because absent wage-paying job people may turn to crime to meet their economic needs or simply alleviate boredom.
Apart from the social unrest and disgruntlement that unemployment can produce in the electorate, high unemployment can have a self-perpetuating negative impact on business and the economic health of the country.”
To analyse this administration’s performance without mentioning the reasonable success of its agricultural policies would be grossly unfair. According to a report by Vetiva Research, despite the recent deceleration in growth, the agriculture sector is expected to drive growth in the non-oil sectors. But as the director-general, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry inferred, whatever gains are achieved in the sector are seriously hampered by inadequate power supply.
When will our leaders recognise and accept the simple reality that the nation cannot achieve much without power supply?
Despite the growth of the agriculture sector, the average Nigerian is poorer today than he or she was in 2015. We don’t need statistical analysis to recognise this harsh reality. Simply check your bank balance, have your property valued, or calculate the worth of your shares. As a result, due to the peculiar nature of how money trickles down from one class of people to the next, the poor are poorer, and as such the nation is in far greater danger.
Furthermore, the World Bank’s grim projections of our clearly failing economy suggests we will continue to get poorer.
Four years ago, I utilised my articles to garner support for President Buhari and the APC, not because I wanted anything from him or the party but because I was convinced that another four years of Goodluck Jonathan’s government would have been the end of Nigeria. It was clear to me that the nation’s financial coffers and general economic well-being could not withstand another four years of what can only be described as frenzied corruption.
My convictions remain the same!
The heights and depths of which the economy was bled dry would have destroyed Nigeria, had it been allowed to continue unchecked for another four years.
But I would be foolish and shamefully dishonest were I to claim to be anything but dissatisfied with president Buhari’s administration. And before those of you who continue to sing that painstakingly tiresome tune of ‘the problem with Nigerians is that we are not willing to pay the necessary sacrifice it will take to heal Nigeria’ get on your somewhat drunken and deluded merry horses, let me say this: there is just as much corruption in Nigeria today as there was during Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure. The only difference is that the orchestras, choirs, and choir masters are no longer in the South South but in the North.
Let’s address a few facts.
There is absolutely no government or system on this planet that isn’t corrupt in some shape or form. None in which leaders do not use their position to steer matters their way – be they policies, contracts, or even wars for the sake of economic gain. All we need do is objectively analyse the outrageous overthrow of both the Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi regimes. Both leaders were far from perfect, but there was one reason alone for the actions of the powers that be – oil and economic influence in the respective regions; not to talk of the dubious contracts awarded to certain companies to ‘re-build Iraqi’!
Since the beginning of time, men and women have utilised positions of power and influence to benefit themselves and their inner circle. This is how things work.
In one way or another, corruption exists in most administrations across the globe, including Western Europe and North America.
Does this make it okay? Of-course not!
My point is we shouldn’t get too bogged down with it; certainly not for another four years!
Hence, this article is not about whether or not the Buhari administration has reduced corruption. Contrary to several outlandish claims, we all know the answer is a definitive ‘No’.
The matter at stake here is the 2019 presidential election. There is one simple question on my mind as I consider who to vote for in 2019: Which candidate is better able to kick-start Nigeria’s comatose economy? And thereby not only put the nation on the road to economic recovery but cement a structure that promotes dynamism, service, and sustained development.
And the subtext of this all-important question is very simple – ‘who is better able to forge a dynamic, forward-thinking and pragmatic cabinet – one that possesses the capacity to create jobs’.
There is no doubt Atiku Abubakar has many flaws, including several alleging implications of corruption. But corruption isn’t Nigeria’s biggest problem at present.
Don’t get me wrong – corruption is a stench on our nation and a major stumbling block to development and progress, but as of today what we all yearn for is a different form of medication.
What we need is a leader with business acumen. Someone who understands the fundamentals of finance and economics; an individual pragmatic enough to place the right individuals in key positions, regardless of age, creed, ethnic back-ground or god-fatherism.
As much as I like and respect our dear president and his loyal deputy, they have proved themselves incapable of finding a solution to the nation’s economic malaise.
Whilst doing some research on Atiku, I realised I had forgotten how much of an astute businessman he is. Yes, he was involved in some questionable transactions during his tenure as Vice President, but the fact remains he played a key role in resurrecting two major industries we all benefit from today – the banking and mobile phone sectors (consider how many jobs the mobile phone sector created!).
But what really brought tears of joy to my anxious and sullen eyes is his recent statement about his ability to forge dynamic teams. He said, “as VP, I assembled what is arguably the best Economic Team ever in Nigeria. It was made up of young, world class professionals, who came home to work.”
My dear readers, I’m not pro Atiku or PDP (hell no!!!). But I am pro ‘employment’, pro ‘financial security’ and pro a ‘healthy economy’.
So, once more I respectfully ask you to wake up from your slumber to do your due diligence; and when you conclude that Nigeria cannot survive another four years of overall stagnation and regression, make a commitment to vote for the candidate with the necessary nous to assemble a team capable of resurrecting our hopelessly decapitated economy.
To allow things to continue as they are is a risk we simply cannot afford to take.
Olusegun Akande is the Managing Director of Community Coding Club, UK. He is also a published author and prolific social commentator.