YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT AND IMPLICATION FOR POLITICAL STABILITY IN NIGERIA (1999-2011)
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
In Nigeria, civil rule has been restored for over a decades ago, which has given people so much hopes and expectations for political stability to enjoy the value of democratic rule. For instance, it is assumed that with democracy, people would be free to choose their leaders and representatives and hold them accountable for the overall objective of fast tracking development and improving the general living conditions of the masses. This expectation is not misplaced considering that Nigeria has abundant human and natural resources. However, the reality on ground has shown that this expectation is yet to be realized. Hence, the growing sense of hopelessness among the masses. In other countries in North African like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya where dictators have held sway for over three decades, people have revolted against the system. Though these countries can say to be less democratic than Nigeria, yet the living condition of the people in real economic terms is better (Abati, 2011a; Abati, 2011b; Adejumobi, 2011). Furthermore, the unemployment rates in these countries are more or less like that of Nigeria (Ojenagbo, 2011). The major concern here therefore is, given the kind of violent agitations that pervaded the above mentioned countries with relatively better living conditions than Nigeria, what is the guaranteed that large army of unemployed youths will not engage in activities that would undermine the political stability in Nigeria? Afterall, the current situation in the Niger Delta and the northern Nigeria are not far away from what led to the uprising in those North African countries. The problem of persistent youth unemployment is very evident in Nigeria. Every year thousands of graduates are turn out for whom there are no jobs. Nigerian streets are littered with youth hawkers who ordinarily would have found gainful employment in some enterprise. The self employed are in difficult situation as scant infrastructure makes it impossible for them to practise their trade. The large number of youths who are unemployed is capable of undermining the nation’s political stability as they constitute a serious threat if engaged by the political class for clandestine activities as we presently witnessing in the northern part of the country – the menace of “Boko Haram” (Adepegba, 2011; Ibrahim, 2011; Lartey, 2011; Olatunji & Abioye, 2011). There is no doubt, with this social problem of youth unemployment on our hands, it will not be out of place to submit that the Nigerian political environment will be unsafe, hostile, insecure, unstable, and rancorous, the benefits and diffident of democracy that should have been enjoyed by the citizenry will be eroded if drastic solution not provided. Thus, the researcher, being a student of public administration, is interested in examining the implications of youth unemployment on political stability in Nigeria where workers live and where industries operate.
1.2. Statement of Problems
The fundamental factor that accounts for the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria is the poor economic growth that has characterized the system over the years. Although, there are many determinants of unemployment, but the most critical of them all is the weak economic growth. The overall situation in the country in the part of eighties, nineties and even in this decade has been very hostile to economic growth and development. The high level of corruption, mismanagement of public funds, harsh economic policies and the insecurity of the Nigerian environment coupled with long – term despotic rule of the military among other factors have dampened the spirit of economic growth for a long time. The poor state of economic growth in the face of the growing...