Globalization is one of the few phenomena for which there is no accurate timestamp. The human race can hardly point to the start of globalization as a social process. Where Nigeria is concerned, however, the nation’s active participation in the globalization framework can be traced to the period of the industrial revolution in the 1980s, with the introduction of SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme). As Adejumobi (2004: p. 32) captures it, the establishment of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) was the most decisive factor in the reconstitution and decline of state spending in the social sector. He further alluded to the crucial link between SAP and globalization, wherein he agrees with Mihevc (1995) in describing SAP as the “fundamentalist economic doctrine emerging under the spell of globalization”.
Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) was introduced by international financial institutions (forces of globalization) to Nigeria and many other developing African countries in response to the uncompromising pressures of creditor agencies. This adjustment programme came with some policies that were not favourable to the Nigerian state and its people, and Nigeria delayed for five years before adopting it. The strategies included evaluation of the currency, liberalisation of trade-payment systems, sales and promotion of public companies, reduction of government financial deficit, and the creation of a stable monetary and fiscal policy (FRN, 1990: pp. 3-4). While the implementation of SAP in Nigeria opens the doors for official rescheduling of Nigerian foreign debts (Ikem, 1996 in Herbst & Soludo, 2001: p. 667), it was a false instrument for addressing Nigeria’s development problem, which contributed to unemployment and widespread poverty in the nation. The unemployment rate in Nigeria has increased immensely from the time of adoption of SAP to date. Volkova (1986: p. 226) depicts unemployment as being without any means of sustenance, without an opportunity to eat food and have decent housing. The International Labour Organisation defines unemployment as a situation in which people have actively looked for a job within four weeks and are yet, without jobs. Broadly defined, unemployment includes everyone who can work but is without an occupation.
2. Conceptual Analysis
Globalization, like many other concepts, does not have a single definition. There have been several definitions of globalization based on the views of various scholars. Some scholars view globalization as a positive impact on the world while some see it as having eroded borders and national sovereignty, thus defining it from a negative perspective. For the positivists, they define globalization in terms of improving the standard of living of the people, advancing and encouraging free trade and commerce, efficient communication, greater democracy and increasing levels of mutual understanding. The Anti-globalists on the other hand, view globalization as an instrument of imperialism, threatening and destructive, which further expands the inequality between the Global North and South countries while eroding the national sovereignty of states as well as creating homogeneity, violence, dislocation and inequality. Sklair (2002) defines globalization as a way of organising social life across national borders. Giddens (1990) denotes it as the intensification of worldwide social relations which links distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring miles away and vice versa. Peter (2000) defines globalization as a process of integrating economic decision making such as consumption, investment and saving across the world. It is the expansion and intensification of international political and commercial intercourse. Globalization can be defined as the process whereby many social relations become relatively delinked from regional geography so that human lives are increasingly being played out in the world as a single place.
Globalization involves economic integration; the transfer of policies across borders; the transmission of knowledge; cultural stability; the reproduction, relations, and discourses of power. As well, it is a global process, a concept, a revolution, and an establishment of the global market free from socio-political control. Wallerstein (1974) defines globalization as the triumph of a capitalist world economy together with a global division of labour. Khor (1995) defines it as what the third world countries, for several centuries, referred to as colonisation. Walck and Bilimoria (1995) defines it as an input in the form of rhetorical and discursive constructs, practices and ideologies which some groups are imposing on others for political and economic gains. Having given several definitions of globalization, Waters’ (1995) definition of globalization as “a social process in which the constraints of geography on economic, political, social and cultural arrangements recede, in which people become increasingly aware that they are receding and act accordingly” will be adopted in this study.
Todaro (1981: p. 56) defines development as a multi-dimensional process involving the reorganisation and reorientation of the entire economic and social systems. To him, development is a physical reality and a state of mind in which the society has through some combinations of social, economic and political process secured the way of obtaining a better life. Rogers (1990: p. 30) defines development as a long participatory process of social change in the society whose objective is the material and social progress for most ofthe population through a better understanding of their environment. Perroux (1978: p. 65) sees development as the combination of mental and social changes among the people which decide to increase its real and global products, cumulatively and suitably. Also, Tayebwa (1992: p. 261) sees development is a broad term not limited to economic growth, welfare or material well-being but the inclusion of economic, social and political aspects of the entire society like security, culture, social activities and political institutions.
3. Theoretical Framework
The theoretical framework to be used in explaining this work is Modernisation theory which refers to a model of a progressive transition from a pre-modern or traditional society to modern society. It is used to describe the process of advancement within communities. It assumes a uni-lineal continuous development of societies and, thus, classifies all nations into Western and non-Western cultures. It also looks at internal dynamics while referring to social and cultural structures and the adaptation of new technologies. Modernisation theory explains that the domestic characteristics of a state are the reason for their underdevelopment, and their economic development is essential for meaningful progress to exist in society. A simplified view of growth in the Global North’s liberal democracies is that wealth is created through efficient production, free enterprise, and free trade and that countries’ relative wealth depends on technological innovation and education more than natural endowments such as climate and resources.
The economic condition in Nigeria arises from globalization via colonialism by the Europeans. Despite this, Nigeria should still fight the global disease and target its economic growth to balance the globalization cycle and raise its people’s quality of living. The theory of modernisation argues that some conditions (technical advances, education of quality and production efficiency) for this progression are missing in developing countries. Thus, they need to acquire adequate capital to sustain economic growth that benefits a wide variety and not to a fortunate few in society. This theory is best used to understand the relationship between globalization, unemployment and democratic development in Nigeria because modernisation assumes that most traditional societies are shedding off their traditionality and moving into the modern and Western ethos which is an element of globalization. Modernisation and globalization are closely linked as they in terms of advanced technology, individualism, egalitarianism, and so on. The driving force of globalization is Information Technology which is also found in modernisation.
4. Globalization and Unemployment in Nigeria
Nexus between Globalization and Unemployment in Nigeria
Globalization is a standardised mechanism that arbitrarily distributes advantages and losses to all nations, which leads to discrepancies and discord between industrialised, globalised countries and developing countries as Nigeria which acquiesce in the losses (Obadan, 2001). Globalization has had a positive impact on unemployment as a result of its unfair favouritism in many developed countries and the distortion of economies like Nigeria. International Labour Organisation defines unemployment as the situation in which people who have actively looked for work within the past four weeks are without jobs Many studies have detailed unemployment as one of the leading causes of poverty and underdevelopment among third world countries. The ILO approach to defining unemployment rests on what can be termed the “labour force framework”, which at any point in time classifies the working age population into three mutually exclusive and exhaustive categories according to a specific set of rules: employed, unemployed, and out of the labour force.
The Director-General of the National Directorate of Employment, Lagos State chapter, Mallam Abubakar Mohammed (2012) attributes rising unemployment, poverty and the dislocation of economies in developing countries, including Nigeria, to the adverse effects of globalization. Unemployment in Nigeria grew from 10.4% in January 2016 to 12.1% in May 2016 to 23.1% in July 2018, with the unemployment rate increasing at a pace that was historically inconceivable because the 1962/85 figure was 2.3% (National Bureau of Statistics). ILO observed and stated that about 73.4 million Nigerian youths were unemployed in 2013. This increment in the unemployment rate is as a result of the consequences of globalization which includes lack of infrastructure in every sector of the economy, inadequate funding of the educational sector, corruption, and poverty among others (Ikechukwu, 2012).
In Nigeria, globalization ecstasy has made an administration to assert that it is not the responsibility of the government to create jobs whereas, ideally, job creation is one of the crucial roles of the government. In other words, individuals with specific skills may become jobless when there are insufficient opportunities within a given society as the government do not make it a part of their priority to provide jobs for its people. These textile companies, numbering about 145, created jobs for millions of people in the1980s. However, capitalist globalization, otherwise denoted as “financialisation” (Went, 2000; Dorasamy, 2010), has made the financial sectors more booming than the productive sector in Nigeria. Also, the financial sector has over the years, been able to create only about 300,000 jobs out of which more than 50% are casual employments. This situation is quite meagre compared to the jobs previously created through the productive sectors. Therefore, in an economy, where the financial industry is more buoyant than the productive segment, there is bound to be problems owing to the vacuum emanating from the economic mismatch. It is evident that globalization undeniably creates wealth. Still, it also intensifies inequality and poverty, particularly in Nigeria and other African states, thus, causing unemployment, which is ever-increasing among the youths.
Samson (2009) explains it thus: “… the everyday sight of the growing armies of the unemployed youths roaming the streets with despair written all over their faces attests to the gravity of the job market situation in Nigeria”. Many graduates are unemployed; they are being denied work and are being asked for years of experience to qualify for jobs. Even some previously employed graduates have to face the wind of competition, which global capitalist forces have unleashed, and it seems that the only way out for corporations to respond to these forces is mainly through further retrenchment which translates into unemployment (Bloch, 1998; Scholte, 2000). Rising unemployment increases the number of idle people and, hence, the number of criminals (Chinonso, 2008). The subsequent increase in criminal activities leads to the investor’s lack of confidence, thereby affecting the economic growth of the country adversely.
Analysis has shown that globalization of the Nigerian economy through various economic reforms, deregulation and privatisation has led to the downsizing in the civil service (as shown in Figure 1), thereby compounding the widespread joblessness across the country. Due to global capitalism and the bid for economic growth, many public enterprises were privatised, but just a few are on sound footing (Anyanwu, 2006). A large proportion of change and increase in unemployment was witnessed from the SAP period where several policies and reforms were implemented, such as economic reforms, privatisation, devaluation of currency, etc. Although the motive behind privatisation of firms and the introduction of SAPwas to help Nigeria recover from her deteriorating economic
Figure 1. Nigeria suffers loss over pipeline damaged and oil sabotaged. Source: Nigerian News direct.
situation (through maximising profit, ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency among workers), more economic difficulties evolved. The civil service witnessed depreciation in the number of job opportunities, privatised firms retained less than half the population of existing workers before the ownership changed. An example is the privatisation of the electricity firm in Nigeria, which laid off many of the previous workers before it got privatized.
Table 1 shows the data of employment in the Nigeria Federal Civil Service between 1970-1977. The pre-globalization period in Nigeria witnessed a steady increase in employment up, especially amongst permanent workers in the civil service until 1985. From the period of SAP till 1997 as illustrated, employment rate in the civil service witnessed a steady decrease, even far below the employment rate in the pre-globalization period.
Table 1. Employment in the federal civil service in Nigeria 1970-1997.
Source: Computed from Nigeria National Bureau of Statistics as cited in Obayelu (2007).
Additionally, the improvement and enhancement of technology in Nigeria has further increased unemployment in Nigeria. Workers are now being substituted with machines in various organisations to fast-track production and achieve better results. Notably, this is ongoing because technology is being increasingly adopted in different sectors of the economy. Indeed, while information technology has facilitated advancement in some countries, another category of countries, Nigeria inclusive, has been left behind in the globalization web. Information can be obtained through the internet nowadays, but it has robbed some people of their means of livelihood. Instead of a post office box, many people now prefer e-mails, social media, and similar other means to transmit information. Recent information and historical documents can be Nigeria inclusive, sourced from the internet swiftly; hence, many in the information business, especially librarians, have lost their jobs or are on the verge of losing it.
Another effect of globalization in Nigeria is the fear of uncertainty and volatility on capital formation and productivity growth with its negative consequence on economic growth. CBN (2000) views this instability on the economy as a tax on growth and prosperity. Nigeria as a country, has not evolved a mechanism that can absorb consequences and shocks arising from globalization. Accompanying policies instituted by the government have also increased the negative effect of these shocks on the people and alongside, increased unemployment. Notably, through stiff competition posed by liberalisation, many firms in the private sector collapsed leading to the retrenchment of workers and thereby increasing rural and urban unemployment in Nigeria (Obayelu, 2007). Many Nigerians did not have the skill nor financial manpower to compete with foreign and imported goods. Liberalisation also led to the influx of many multinational companies who found a steady market in Nigeria and offered jobs to their own people rather than Nigerians, largely due to the skills needed for operational activities. With this, small firms had to close up and more Nigerians out of the labour force.
Also, the increased presence of foreign and multinational companies allows for easy movement of people into and from Nigeria. This promotes unemployment in that the owners of these companies bring in preferred workers from outside Nigeria who act as managers and constitute more than half of those who run the firms, thereby leaving limited positions for Nigerians. In other words, some of the jobs meant for Nigerians have been taken over by foreign workers and investors. Due to this difference, there is a wide gap between skilled and unskilled workers. The skilled workers get better pay and position than the unskilled workers. Equally important, many less skilled and experienced workers have lost their jobs to globalization. As earlier stated, globalization entails the use of advanced technology and equipment, which requires skilled workers to operate effectively. By this, many less-skilled workers are laid off and even where skilled workers are retained or engaged; they are prone to exploitation that makes them receive less than their entitlement.
With globalization, the country’s security has been threatened, and this repels investors and thus, accentuates unemployment in the country. Several multinational companies (MNCs) which came to Nigeria sequel to her bid to promote investments and increase her economic development have had a considerable influence on the economy. According to Iheriohanma (1998), their activities are prominent in oil drilling, manufacturing and business sectors which they dominate while Nigerian companies are unable to compete maximally. For instance, forty-eight years after the start of oil exploration and exploitation in Nigeria, the local content is still less than 20% (Nigeria Tribune, 2003). The fact that Nigeria depends majorly on the oil sector, which is controlled by multinational companies causes stiff competition in the sector which threatens security in Nigeria. In many cases, these multinational companies import their staff at the expense of Nigerians. Accordingly, very few Nigerians are employed in these multinational companies, and this does not only reduce employment prospects for Nigerians but also create unemployment as jobs meant for Nigerians are given to foreigners. With the privatisation and commercialisation of government-owned companies, there has been a massive cutback of workers. As a result, many MNCs have taken advantage of the situation with labour being bargained at the lowest price. Also, the assault of globalization on labour empowers multinational companies to cheapen the worth of labour which is further encouraged by the government as a result of their attempt to curb labour unions and enter into joint venture arrangement with foreign capital.
Another impact of globalization on unemployment in Nigeria is the spread of deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS through migration. These diseases have presented an unprecedented crisis in the history of Africa. Stone (2002) notes that every day in Africa, millions of Africans in every stratum of the society is infected with the HIV/AIDS virus and millions die every day. HIV/AIDS is perceived as a product of globalization (Adesina, 2012) and is considered not only as of the greatest global health pandemic but also as the biggest challenge to development in the 21st century. It affects the most economically productive illiterates’ sector of the population and threatens development achievements in many countries. Nigeria is one of the worst-hit by HIV/AIDS on the African continent, and it is estimated that about 3.1 million Nigerians are infected with the disease. That is, Nigeria has the second-largest number of people living with this virus in sub-Saharan Africa and the highest in West Africa (NACA, 2017). With this large percentage of Nigerians living with this disease, many organisations will not likely employ affected people to avoid stigmatisation and costly health bill. Most organisations these days conduct medical examination making a job offer to new staff and do drop those who test positive to deadly/terminal diseases.
5. Economic Reforms in Nigeria
Economic reform is not new to Nigeria’s political lexicon (Oludoyi, 2006). Various economic changes via globalization have been adopted in post-independence Nigeria, and these reforms have affected the economic development in Nigeria as well as caused an increase in the unemployment rate in Nigeria. Babawale (1987) traces the history of economic reform programmes in Nigeria to the period of her contact with British colonialism, a force of globalization. Some of these reforms led to the high rate of unemployment, high poverty level and the harsh implementation of IMF and World Bank programmes like SAP in the post-independence era. These reforms also affected the economic development of Nigeria as well as reduced her workforce.
Adesina (1994) reported that between 1965-1980, industrial and manufacturing sectors in Nigeria developed at 13.1% and 14.6% respectively, with annual production falling to 4.4% and 2.1% respectively in the industrial and manufacturing industries between 1980 and 1987 (during and after SAP implementation). Structural Adjustment Programme (1986-93) was a policy adopted by General Ibrahim Babangida during his military rule (1985-1988) due to the depressed oil and economic crisis in Nigeria. Structural Adjustment Programme consists of loans provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to developing countries under financial crises. Its objectives include reduction of fiscal deficits, reduction of inflation and unemployment, the liberation of foreign exchange and interest rate, promotion of non-inflationary economic growth but SAP is inflationary by nature. This is because it increases the amount of the domestic currency required in exchange for a unit quantity of local goods and imports. It is also based on the fallacy that capital is the primary basis of economic growth, which implies that the mere establishment of banks in an artisanal economy automatically transforms it into a monetised and advanced economy (Ogbimi, 2003).
Equally notable, the inflationary effect of the mandatory devaluation of a country’s currency through the Foreign Exchange Market (FEM) is difficult to manage. In September 1986, the government introduced a second-tier foreign exchange market (SFEM). Under this policy, the naira depreciated and declined further in value through July 1987. It was accompanied by falling real wages, redistribution of income from urban to rural areas, reduced health, education and social spending. The decrease in spending on social programmes contributed to violent domestic unrests such as Muslim-Christian riots in Kaduna State in March 1987, urban rioting in April 1988 in response to reduced gasoline subsidies and student-led violence in opposition to government economic policies in May and June 1989. Therefore, the SAP introduced to tackle Nigeria’s current economic situation generated more negative effects like unemployment, energy reduction, dissuasion in the manufacturing sector, wage-earning conditionalities, and an inflated economy that continuously threatened real wages.
Other reforms adopted include:
• Indigenisation and Nigerianisation reforms in the 1960s, 1972, and 1977 and beyond: The central objective of this reform was to create an indigenous capitalist class (Asobie, 1988: p. 48). The reform started with the Nigerian Enterprise Promotion Decrees (1972, 1977) which have been amended over the years. This reform began in the colonial era when the small Nigerian bourgeois nationalist leaders were exempted from the sphere of influence by the colonialists. Europe’s business menpatent activities adversely affected the growth of the Nigerian bourgeois class as they could not go as far as their stated objectives had been, despite improved local governance and indigenization reforms in Nigeria. Their objectives included: Increased participation of Nigerians in the economic life of the country; increased capital accumulation by Nigerian businesspeople and retention of such capital in the country and, finally, acquisition by Nigerians of private entrepreneurial skills and orientation and capitalist philosophy. The emerging Nigerian petty bourgeoisie had a weak and limited financial base which made them borrow loans from banks. The three banks created during this period were National Bank Limited (Western Region), African Continental Bank Limited (Eastern Region) and Bank of the North Limited (Northern Region). Most of the enterprises were dominated by foreign capitalists over the years in almost all sectors of the country; thus, their reason for the loans but, unfortunately, all these banks collapsed with the introduction of Structural Adjustment Programme, which further affected Nigeria’s economic development and increased its unemployment rate. The greatest problem of this indigenisation and Nigerianisation reform was not that it did not meaningfully address the problems of the Nigerian masses but that it was greatly undermined by the forces of globalization.
• Land Use Reforms, 1978: It later became the Land Use Act of 1979. The Act vested all state’s territorial land solely in the governor of the state except the land vested in the Federal Government or its agencies. The governor is to hold these lands in trust for the people and be responsible for the allocation of land in all urban areas to individual’s resident in the state and for residential, agricultural commercial and other purposes. In contrast, similar powers concerning non-urban areas are conferred on Local Government Areas.
• Privatisation and Commercialisation Reforms, the 1980s, 1990s and Beyond: This was introduced as part of the Structural Adjustment Programme. Some of the public companies privatised to promote efficiency and optimise profit did not achieve its goal; instead, more workers were sacked, which resulted to an increase in unemployment and further negative effects to other sectors of the economy. Several privatised companies were either wound up or in debt. Just a very few were successful.
• Austerity Measures, 1982-84: It is also known as Economic Stability Measure and was introduced by President Shehu Shagari. It was introduced to solve the increasing systemic imbalances and liquidity pressure in Nigeria during which many facets had been affected, including poverty level and the rate of unemployment in the Nigerian region. These measures involved foreign exchange control; reduction of fiscal deficit and freezing of recruitment into the public sector. Despite all these, the programmes failed to meet their desired objective of improving the state’s economy but rather created more problems than existed before their implementation. Furthermore, the government of the era embarked on mass retrenchment of public sector workers and banning of importation of some commodities which further increased unemployment rate and poverty level in Nigeria. It was introduced to absorb the effects of oil price decline in the international market, but this measure was short-lived as a result of the rise in the oil price in 1979 (Ariyo, 2006).
• Reforms for Poverty Alleviation since 2000: This is one of the reforms adopted towards economic reforms, unemployment and poverty in Nigeria. The interest of the Nigerian state in poverty alleviation started with the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) hurriedly contrived in 2000. In 2001, this programme was repackaged presumably for more sustainable operations and became the National Poverty Alleviation Programme (NAPEP) with an enabling law and operational structure. National Poverty Eradication Programme is a 2001 programme established by the government to address poverty and related issues such as unemployment in Nigeria. One of the effects of unemployment is that it causes a high level of poverty among the people. Therefore, it is wise to solve the problem of unemployment to reduce the poverty level in Nigeria. NAPEP was adopted to replace the Poverty Alleviation Programme. The goals of NAPEP include training youths in vocational trades to support internship, to support micro-credit, and create employment in the automobile industry. The programme was considered an improvement over the previous Nigerian government poverty-reduction programmes and, according to the 2008 analysis, it has been able to train 130,000 youths and engaged 216,000 other people. Still, most of the beneficiaries are poor and the rate of unemployment on the increase. This programme failed because it was too big for its little budgetary allocation over the years. Much of the available funds for the programme went to overhead and administrative costs in offices spread over the country, thus limiting its impact. Indeed, mismanagement and corruption were the basic reasons for the failure of this reform.
• Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), 2004-2007: NEEDS is a comprehensive medium-term growth and development programme based on the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy as found in the certain provisions of the 1999 constitution. It was adopted to implement government and institutional reforms, enhance efficiency, instil higher productivity and correct laxity in the country’s economic management. This development strategy had a three-fold agenda; namely, to reduce poverty, generate employment and create wealth. The PRSP, on the other hand, was an initiative of multilateral institutions aimed at evolving realistic approach towards addressing the problem of poverty in the developing countries of the world, including Nigeria (Ariyo, 2006). Notably, these strategies failed in achieving the goals.
It is not to say that the economic reform programmes completely failed. The proponents of those reforms have shown certain accomplishments including re-establishing macroeconomic stability with stricter monetary policy to reduce inflation, restoration of key sectors of the economy, power and telecom, fiscal and public expenditure reforms, improvement of the economy of the country (BPE, 2003). Still, the weaknesses outweigh the accomplishments. The 2006 report from Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER) states that “precisely, the reforms may be regarded as failed projects, going on by the observation of World Bank that Nigerians are deemed worse off presently than they were in the past” (NISER, 2006). Despite these various reforms that had been ongoing since independence, Nigeria became a paradox of discrepancy between the poverty status of the country and its citizens. Accordingly, it is germane to probe whether the various reforms were designed in isolation, without considering the practical social aspects of public life in Nigeria (NISER, 2006: p. 2). Globalization and technological improvements make humanity better off, but the disadvantage is that they do so unevenly. Thus, it is suggested by Annan (2000) that, for globalization to succeed, it must improve the life of every inhabitant of the global neighbourhood without excluding Nigerians or people in the developing countries. Also, if globalization is to succeed, it must deliver riches, social justice and equality no less than economic prosperity and enhanced communication. Therefore Yakubu (1999) argues that, despite our enthusiasm about the technical and economic marvel of globalization, Nigerians must not forget the areas being excluded and the ever-increasing poverty in Africa since the1970s, even with the government spending 70% of its GNP to service debts.
6. Unemployment and Democratic Development in Nigeria
Globalization has led to the spread of democracy across countries, including Nigeria. Nigeria is a democratic state and, as part of the dividends of democracy, it is expected that there would be a better way of life among the populace. It could be in terms of being gainfully employed by either private or public sector as well as the creation of enabling environment for self-employment to do away with the menace of unemployment because it has the capacity of devaluing persons or communities. Despite being a democratic state, Nigeria has a high rate of unemployment which affects the democracy and democratic development of the country. According to Oyebade (2003), Nigeria’s unemployment can be grouped into two categories: the older unemployed who lost their jobs through retrenchment, redundancy or bankruptcy and, secondly, the younger unemployed, most of whom have never been employed. The unemployment rate in Nigeria is ever increasing and, according to Federal Bureau Statistics and Manpower Board (Awogbenle & Iwuamadi: 2010), 64 million of the 80 million youth population in Nigeria are unemployed while 1.6 million are underemployed.
Also, the National Bureau of Statistics (2009: p. 238; 2010: p. 2) shows that the unemployment rates in Nigeria in 2001-2009 increased from 13.6% in 2001 to 19.7% in 2009. Presently, the unemployment rate in Nigeria is 13.3%. Unemployment creates room for hoodlums to manipulate the people, introducing hunger to the young generations who have little or no understanding of what is going on and maybe easily derailed into crime to find a solution to the existing problem of unemployment. It means that unemployment in Nigeria is a critical issue with immense implications for economic virility, good governance and stability of democracy.
One of the greatest threats to democratic development in Nigeria is unemployment which affects more than 60% of the workforce. This army of unemployed people can be used for several atrocities to hinder the democratic stability and development of the Nigerian state. The massive social and economic dislocations occasioned by the pursuit of neo-liberal policies by the government over the years and the unrestrained and conspicuous amassing and display of wealth by politicians and public office holders amid widespread abject poverty in the present dispensation have not helped matters (Nwonwu, 2010). All these have serious implications for the stability and development of democracy in Nigeria in many ways. It is noteworthy that instability in the political and democratic system is also a hindrance to democratic development in Nigeria as democracy can only develop when it is stable. The unemployed and youths have been manipulated as local militants to attack, vandalise, bomb and destroy oil pipelines, lives and properties in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria (Gilbert, 2010; Ojakorotu, 2010).
Presently, we have a group of people called the Niger Delta Avengers which destroys several pipelines, causing environmental pollution and destruction to lives and properties through fire combat between the Avengers and the Nigerian soldiers and similar cases (see Figure 1). Epelle (2010) opines that, for more than a decade, unemployed youths have constituted the larger population of the militants in the areas, terrorising and kidnapping both the expatriate and local oil workers for hefty ransoms. These atrocities have caused insecurity and civil unrest in Nigeria, thereby affecting the democratisation of the Nigerian state. Some of these harmful activities are ordered by political opponents to cause a potential crisis in the country so that people would lose confidence in the government, thereby facilitating their ascent to power. Some political gladiators have also used the Niger Delta issue as an opportunity to sponsor the killing and kidnapping of their political enemies/oppositions which have caused insecurity and political instability in the country, affecting its democratisation. It is equally notable that this insecurity scares new investors from the state while old investors are relocating to other countries due to lack of security for their investments. All these further aggravate youth unemployment and further reduce the economic fortunes of Nigeria which her democracy needs to survive, stabilise and develop.
Also, unemployed youths have been used as political thugs by politicians. Although there was political violence in the 1999 Presidential election, it cannot be compared to the 2003 general elections in which almost, if not all states of the federation, were touched by one form of political violence or the other. Unemployed youths have been turned to what some scholars’ term foot soldiers of political violence. This has led to the consolidation of political thugs known as Yan Daba in Kano, ECOMOG boys in Borno, Yan Kalare in Gombe, Area Boys in Lagos, and Sara Sukain Bauchi among others. Since then, violence at local, state and federal constituencies became the order of the day, such that hardly could any election hold without any form of violence.
In the quest for survival, these unemployed people do whatever it takes for them to get money at their disposal and cater for themselves even if it means hurting other people and being used by politicians to disrupt the electoral process. Such unemployed people are found in almost every electoral district and sometimes rob votes, intimidate the voters, engage in political violence, and carry out other anti-social and covert political practises that impede Nigeria’s democratic progress. Since democracy was stabilised in 1999, Nigeria has not recorded many free and fair elections excluded from electoral violence or corruption. When the people are idle, it breeds for various kinds of negative activities which explains the extent to which unemployment influences democratisation in Nigeria. Abdul Hameed Ojo captions the 2011 election as the mother of all electoral violence. He maintains that the announcement of the 2011 Presidential Election result in Nigeria saw unparalleled violence in the history of violence in Nigeria. This political upheaval led to the death of so many people and destruction of properties worth millions. In addition to this, unemployment has contributed to the increase in ethnic and religious crisis. Many of the unemployed are found causing trouble and disharmony using ethnicity and religion as an excuse. Some blame their unemployment status on these factors and are seen with dangerous weapons at the forefront when violence arises. Unemployment can also be viewed from an ethnic or religious lens in that Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and religious state of over 500 ethnic groups, making some ethnic groups and religion, a majority in some parts of the country.
This scenario has spurred companies to employ a preferred ethnic and religious group over the other in different states, thus causing dissatisfaction amongst the people and affecting the unemployed people to engage in ethnic and religious crisis in the country. For example, there is a high level of illiteracy in the north, whereas, in the west, many are literates. Companies would rather employ literates with technical skill than someone who does not have the required skills to thrive in an organization. The result of this has led to the rise of an armed group (Boko Haram) to fight against western education in Nigeria. In another way, Muslim-owned companies prefer to employ more Muslims than Christians because of their principles, thereby affecting the employment of Christians and vice versa in such scenarios. Babalobi (2011) posits that mass unemployment and poverty is the cause of religious crises and intolerance. Ethnic and religious intolerance caused by unemployment hurts Nigeria’s democracy as it goes against one’s freedom to work. Chapter II of the Constitution, under Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, S.17. 3(a.) which says: “The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that all citizens, without discrimination on any group whatsoever, have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunity to secure suitable employment”. The exploitation of unemployed youths to disseminate ethno religious clashes in democratic dispensations are well-written (Ibrahim, 2006; Okafor, 2007b). Democracy cannot thrive in the atmosphere of lawlessness, political thuggery, intimidation, killings, maiming and unabated destruction of lives and properties. Electoral violence amounts to infringing on the rights of other citizens to make their choice of preferred candidate freely; and this can lead to neither stability nor development of democracy (Abati, 2011c; Obeakemhe, 2011).
In addition to the above, Akwen and Gever (2012) state that a disordered environment is undoubtedly a threat to democracy and development, and, at this point, people live in constant fear. They have no thought of a genuinely democratic way of life as they subscribe to the phrase “everyone for himself and God for all”. This character greatly impedes development. Agaba (2012) contends that as violence and chaos rock the Nigerian state, the consequential effect of this is the continuous snowballing rate of youth unemployment and intensifying crime rate in the country. So also, Benedict Michael states that violence disrupts the harmony of Jos, Kano, and Kaduna states in the north and some states in southern Nigeria, thereby causing underdevelopment and this includes all aspects of the country, including political and democratic development.
Furthermore, for a country to grow and develop, it requires a strong political economy; that is, what affects the economy affects political development and vice versa. Therefore, for Nigerian democracy to survive and develop, there must be a stable economy to meet the aspirations of the masses, but the reverse is the case in Nigeria. Unemployment and its consequences in Nigeria have considerably affected the political economy of the country.
Agriculture, the largest employer of labour before globalization, has been surpassed and neglected for manufacturing industries, construction, and commonly, oil sectors. However, these organisations could not employ many people which led to massive unemployment in urban Nigeria. Also, the youths and people of working age in the rural areas were fewer than the workforce required for agriculture in the rural area; thus, there was massive unemployment in Nigeria. The Nigerian government also relegated agriculture to the background and concentrated on oil as the main source of income. Nigeria is the sixth-largest producer and exporter of crude oil, and this has been the main source of Nigeria’s economy. Still, the activities of the Niger Delta militants have affected the country’s economy in a way that there has been lost on the estimated amount of cash meant to be gotten from crude oil. Disrupting oil exploration and production by the unemployed youths who felt aggrieved by the pollution and destruction of their environments and general underdevelopment in their area will reduce foreign exchange earnings which Nigeria depends on to finance development projects, stabilise and develop her democracy (Akinbobola, 2010). Therefore, Nigeria’s democracy can only be realised in the atmosphere of a stable economy. Aside from these unemployed youths being used as militants, they have also been used by several people especially the elite to commit criminal activities such as kidnapping, money ritual, murder, assault, stealing and robbery. Many of these youths have been arrested and imprisoned (National Bureau of Statistics, 2009: p. 248). Indeed, 31,700 youths between age 16 and 20 years were jailed in 2004, and 73,071 persons were imprisoned in 2008.
Unemployment in Nigeria makes people lose hope in their government since the government has failed its responsibility to provide job opportunities for them and make the standard of living affordable. By losing hope in the government, they tend to show less concern for the way the government is being run, and this affects democratic development because democracy involves both the government and the governed and it is government by the people. Therefore, when the people are exempted from the process of governing and governance, there will be no transparency and accountability on the part of the government which hinders democratic development in Nigeria. Also, the high level of unemployment in Nigeria and many developing countries further strengthens the point of view of opponents of democracy who blame democracy for high-level unemployment which in turn affects democratic development in Nigeria and democracy at large. For example, Stiglitz expresses that globalization is to blame for unemployment in many democratic states, and that is why democratic countries like Nigeria have a high rate of unemployment. At the same time, China and Asia, which are not democratic and refuse IMF policies are economically strong and thriving. Unemployment has led to dangerous attacks on the sitting administration of the Nigerian state as it is a way for some to vent their anger and displeasure. Unemployment causes idleness, and, according to a popular adage, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Many unemployed people, for means of survival, use whatever means possible in whichever way to get employed or make people unsatisfied, thereby infringing on the freedom and rights of other people, hindering democratic development in Nigeria. As a result of the unemployment situation in the country, political leaders and elites are tendentiously targeted. The perpetrators claim to have done it with good intentions such as “robbing the wealthy to fend for themselves” or “receiving their share of the national cake.” These further increase criminal activities and rates in the country and, wherever there is violence, democracy is threatened. In Nigeria, most of the criminals arrested daily and interrogated tend to cite unemployment as the reason for engaging in crime. Unemployment goes a long way in hindering democratic development in Nigeria in several ways as people devise many means to feed and clothe themselves as the government is shirking in its responsibility to provide for the welfare of citizens.
The poor economic condition in Nigeria is a result of the instruments of globalization which further widened the gap between the rich and the poor as well as core and periphery countries. Through colonialism and some economic instruments of globalization, developing countries have struggled for a long period with development in their respective countries. For Nigeria, the economic capability keeps deteriorating due to high rate of unemployment, unfavourable economic reforms which failed in the long run, and lack of stability among others. Globalization is largely to blame for this, but modernisation theory postulates a way by which developing countries, particularly Nigeria, which is the focus, can crawl out of her underdevelopment. Nigeria needs to develop every sector of her economy, particularly, the technological and educational sector to produce quality citizens that are well versed in the use of technological equipment to effectively and efficiently ensure mass and quality goods and product.
The economy, according to Karl Marx, is the base on which the superstructure stands. The Nigerian economy needs to focus first on his educational sector, both for formal and informal education. With adequate and quality education, the citizens too will be of good quality to be able to make continuous growth and development in every other sector they find themselves. The educational system needs to be of great and international standard such that even information and computer technology is well taught.
Also, there is a need for advanced technology in the country. Technology makes work done in an efficient and fast manner. Still, these equipments cannot function on their own, thus the need for educated and quality citizens to control and supervise the use of these technological tools. Even in the agricultural sector, the use of sophisticated tools cannot be overemphasized, particularly in rural areas. With the use of sophisticated tools, there will be more production which will, in the long run, reduce the rate of poverty and increase the standard of living of the people.
Furthermore, Nigeria needs to develop every sector of her economy to have various streams of income that will improve the per capita income and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. Every sector of the economy should be given equal priority such that there would be numerous job opportunities for the people. At the same time, infrastructural facilities will be improved. With good infrastructural facilities and non-reliance on one sector of the economy, unemployment in the country and there will be a positive progression in the living standard of the people.
Lastly, political corruption needs to be exterminated. With the rise of corruption, there can be no positive change in the Nigerian economy as all will be lost with corrupt activities in various sectors. Thus, if successful growth and development are to take place in Nigeria, working institutions must be able to track the smooth operation of each sector and ensure full income and growth which in turn provides the citizens and the developed community with lots of employment opportunities.
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