Our dear president, we write this letter to you with great passion, and in a state of curiosity and concern.
We understand your zeal as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to invest in the next generation of the country’s youths by presenting a budget that contains reasonable projects that are aimed at tackling the far-reaching malady of UNEMPLOYMENT in our beloved country, Nigeria.
But, it is so unfortunate that the unemployed graduates of Nigerian institutions of higher learning have no representatives at the ongoing National Conference. Having read the modalities of the National Conference and the components involved, we are convinced without prejudice or doubt, that our children would blame us if we fail to inform you, Mr. President, of the mockery of the committee as a result of misplaced priorities.
Mr. President Sir, the only common element which costs less, and can solve the myriad of problems faced by most Nigerians is EMPLOYMENT.
Unemployment is a big challenge in Nigeria, which over the years has represented a lost opportunity for national economic development. With the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) putting the current rate of unemployed Nigerians at 23.9 per cent, up from 21.1 per cent in 2010 and 19.7 per cent in 2009, the rising unemployment rate in Nigeria has in no small measure contributed to the continuous rise in social vices like terrorism, political thuggery, violence and even teenage pregnancies among youths in many parts of the country.
In view of these, the Association of Nigerian Graduates against Unemployment, an association of well cultured youths and intellectuals, was formed. We represent the frustrated and angry youths in the society, forced to act after going through the 492 political selections for the National Conference and noticing the deafening silence concerning unemployment and the unemployed.
We are happy you know, according to statements credited to you, that Nigerians are already talking about their national challenges through the print, electronic and social media and this is how we intend to make our voices heard.
The political selections will only give the same answers and report only what they feel you would be comfortable hearing. The truth, Mr. President, is far from comfortable. What affects us is UNEMPLOYMENT, and we want you to take a critical look at the following issues:
1. Contract Staffing – This is in fact one of the biggest problems hindering graduates from getting jobs. Most of those assumed to be workers in most industries, firms and companies are in fact, not permanent staff. They are all under-employed and are also competing with fresh graduates for any available vacancy.
2. Age limit as a prerequisite for employment opportunities.
3. The issue of years of experience by several government ministries and parastatals.
4. Employment not being on merit.
5. Provision of social welfare for all unemployed graduates and more for the physically challenged graduates. (Return to the quota for each firm to employ, as a percentage of their total workforce, a specific percentage of physically challenged graduates)
Mr. President, from the various statistics we have from the National Bureau of Statistics, and other sources, the number of unemployed citizens ranges from 30 to 45 million, and that is about the population of five major cities in Nigeria. An average of 4.5 million graduates enter into the job market annually with no access to soft loans or any type of enabling environment coupled with epileptic power supply, even after the privatization of PHCN.
The “YouWin” programme is more like and very similar to the visa lottery game, where only lucky winners are empowered and only the families of public office holders and those in government get the little available jobs. We are citizens and should also be given access to enjoy social facilities like those in government e.g. NHIS scheme. We are products of our society and we want to be treated equally like those in government.
We passed through various challenges and delays in school such as ASUU strikes, late school enrolment due to poverty and/or ignorance, bureaucratic arrangement in government, unfortunate policies and administrative problems.
Mr. President, we live in a country where people now sell jobs. Everyone had hitherto been quiet about this completely unacceptable and despicable act and it must be looked into. We are human capital, and this is by far, the greatest asset any country can have. We are worth more than the oil in the South-South or the pepper from the North. We cannot afford to sit down and watch ourselves waste away anymore.
Our dear president, we commend you for what has been done so far in addressing the issue of unemployment such as NDE, YouWin and others, but we are asking that you help us to help this nation and youth restiveness caused by unemployment by empowering us.
We are tired of running out of our fatherland to foreign countries and yet treated and addressed as third class citizens through Visa bonding and the rest, when our country is blessed.
The stakes are high now and we are using this opportunity to address the polity that this association is not a political movement or a violent sect. We are a pressure group crying out in splinters but with one voice for our needs in our country ,Nigeria. We denounce and disassociate ourselves from the methodologies of some home based terror groups/sects in the Northern part of Nigeria that have adopted violence and are unleashing carnage on the society in fighting their cause. However, it should not be forgotten that the problems of these Home Terror groups in the North started when their needs were not met, and with lots of anomalies in their society. Now it’s spiraling and all nations are called to join in securing the region. All we are saying is listen to our cries now and not when things go bad. We are accessible and open for discussions on how to forge ahead in addressing the problems of unemployment with your support.
Mr. President Sir, ignoring the points raised here can have unpleasant consequences. We implore you to urgently address these points to halt the steadily growing number of angry and frustrated unemployed graduates who may be tempted to channel their knowledge and energy into negativities. God bless you, sir, as we await your speedy response and God bless Nigeria
By Ehis Abuya (National Coordinator, Association of Unemployed Graduates).