The socioeconomic and political environment in Nigeria poses a great challenge to the youth. Economic and social statistics present a somber picture that leaves much to be desired. Almost half a century after flag independence, the economy continues to be dominated by the primary sector – agriculture, oil, and minerals. This is partly because the country has not been able to create an environment for high value-added economic activities for youths. There is the low domestic capital formation and declining direct foreign investment, with the exemption of the oil and gas sectors, until recently very heavy indebtedness, high unemployment and the in the formalization of the economy where the majority of its people live in poverty. Nigeria performs very poorly in terms of global economic competitiveness. The country lacks basic social and physical infrastructure. As a result, most people in the country have no access to basic services such as potable water, electricity, good sanitation, roads and health care.
The problem of Nigeria youths development is traceable to a poor educational formation, unstable political environment, bad governance, a poor orientation of youths, insecurity etc which tend to hinder the economic development.
The national youth policy identified the problems confronting youth’s development in Nigeria to include: Inadequate parental care, non-availability of suitable sports and recreational facilities, moral decadence in the society, lack of appropriate role models, poverty, religious fanaticism, cult activities, political manipulation of youth organizations, unemployment and underemployment breakdown of family values and indiscipline etc all of these factors are responsible to underdevelopment of youths, thereby reducing the aggregate performance of the economy.
Youth unemployment in Nigeria has been increasing because most graduates seem to lack relevant marketable skills. The Federal government recently acknowledged that about 80 percent of Nigeria’s youth are unemployed while 10 percent are underemployed (Salami, 2013). Nigerian youths face daily series of problems, ranging from poverty, unemployment, conflicts, and diseases. Tackling them is not an easy task. These problems, therefore, demand that the youths be empowered with creative problem-solving skills. The training of educated individuals who can function effectively in the society for the betterment of self and the society will require special attention as the system will be deliberately set to concern itself with the development of sound human capital required for national development. But through well planned and executed entrepreneurship education, the Nigerian youths will learn to be happy and fulfilled, as they will be productive and committed as employees or employers of labour. They will allow their unique abilities to be used for the development of the national and global goals rather than abandon their country for greener pastures (Oviawe 2010).
Despite the compulsory entrepreneurship education in Nigerian universities, many graduates still remain unemployed for a long time after graduation. The entrepreneurship education delivered to undergraduates seems not to be meeting the aims and the objectives of the compulsory course. The content and management of the course seem to be porous. The purpose of establishing the entrepreneurship course seems to be defeated. (Ifedili & Ofoegbu, 2011). There is need to find out the problems with the programme and how it can be managed and delivered so as to meet its goals and objectives.
Young women and girls between 15 and 24 years of age face special challenges in many developing countries. As a whole, females receive less education than their male counterparts, marry and become parents earlier, have fewer economic opportunities, heavy household responsibilities, and are often constrained by traditions and customs that do not apply to their male counterparts. It is estimated that 33-66% of sexual assaults worldwide are perpetrated against girls age 15 or younger.
Youth restiveness may be caused by a number of factors. Chukwuemeka (2008) observed that composite unemployment in Nigeria increased from 3.8% in 2006 to 4.2% in the first half of 2011. He further stated that structural unemployment results in talents not being used where they are available, hence idle mind is definitely the devil’s workshop. Similarly, Coleman (1996) observed that psychological variables and deprivation is the basic product of conflict and restiveness of any kind. He further argued that the more widespread and intense deprivation is among members of a population, the greater is the magnitude of violence in one form or the other. In the foregoing, therefore, one can argue that the unequal socio-economic development of the various ethnic groups in Nigeria led to inter ethnic and intra-ethnic conflicts.
According to Echebiri (2005), the street youths who were, denied of legitimate means of livelihood would grow up in a culture that encourages criminal behaviors. This argument was supported by Chigunta, (2002). The unemployed youths survive by engaging in various activities such as petty trading, casual work, borrowing, stealing, pick pocketing, prostitution, touting and other illegal activities. Some have become drunkards others are on drugs such as cocaine and Indian-hemp. Bennel (2000) argued that urban society is becoming increasingly criminalized, especially with the proliferation of youth gangs.
Several studies have shown that majority of prison inmates are youth aged 30 years and below. Also, delinquency, crime, and drug abuse are on the increase among youths (Igbinovia, 1988).
For instance, Chukwuemeka, Anazodo and Nzewi (2011) found that dissatisfaction of the people of South-South especially the youths on the level of attention given to the development of their region and the damages to their ecology by oil spillage are the major causes of the alarming rate of youth restiveness.
Youth restiveness may occur as reprisal attack. For instance, the Tiv youths did a reprisal attack on the Jukuns in Makurdi following the Tiv massacre in Taraba State and in Zaki-Biam by Nigerian soldiers.
The importance of youths in the development of the Niger Delta region cannot be overemphasized. This is more so that their restive activities seem to be related to the nature of development accrued to the region. In essence, there seems to be a negative correlation between youth restiveness and development levels of the area. For instance, Adesope et al. (2000) observed that the spate of youth disturbances is particularly serious in the Niger Delta region. According to them the nature of exploitation of the region at the expense of other indigenes has been a major source of worry to the area and has resulted in restive activities. The youths have been at the forefront of agitation for compensation for the exploitation of the Niger Delta area. This is not very surprising given the fact that they form a great portion of the entire society.
Seiders (1996) opined that rural youth make up a large segment of the total rural population; however, they are often neglected and overlooked by government policy makers and international agency development strategists. This, it was noted, can be attributed in large part to the overwhelming concern for immediate solutions to problems of national development with an accompanying inaccurate perception that youth are not yet productive and contributing members of society. Millions of young people living in rural areas are a significant and untapped resource available to assist in the rural development process.
ANC Youth League (2008) in their 23rd National Congress adopted a seminal document on National Youth Development in South Africa summarized the youth problems as: high levels of youth unemployment, high levels of youth poverty, high levels of youth involvement in crime, levels of HIV/AIDS and other diseases, lack of access to education and inability to complete studies for those who do gain access, high rates of exclusion of mainly black youth from Higher Education institutions and drug and alcohol abuse by youth.
The government needs to invest massively in human capital in the area of health and education for the long sustenance of youth development, especially the children from families currently inflicted with unemployment and poverty.
Oviawe, J. I. (2010), “Repositioning Nigerian Youths for Economic Empowerment through Entrepreneurship Education”. European Journal of Educational Studies 2(2).
Salami, C.G.E. (2013), “Youth Unemployment in Nigeria: A Time for Creative Intervention”. International Journal of Business and Marketing Management. Vol.1 (2); pp. 18-26. Available on website at: http://www.resjournals.org/IJBMM
Ifedili, C. J. and Ofoegbu F. (2011), “Managing Entrepreneurship Education in Nigerian Universities”. European Journal of Educational Studies 3(1). Available at: http://www.ozelacademy.com/ejes_v3n1/EJES_v3n1_10.pdf
Echebiri, R. N. (2005). “Characteristics and Determinants of Urban Youth Unemployment in Umuahia, Nigeria: Implications for Rural Development and Alternative Labor Market Variables”. A Paper presented at the ISSER/Cornell/World Bank conference on “Shared Growth in Africa” held in Accra, Ghana, July 21-22.
Chukwuemeka, E. (2008). “Bourgeoisie against Peasants: A Political Diagnosis of the Evil Consequences of Multinational in Africa”. Journal of Interventional Studies 1, 2, 45 – 50.
Chukwuemeka, E. E. O., Anazodo, R. & Nzewi, H. (2011). “Social Conflict in the South-south Nigeria: Implications for Foreign Investment”. African Journal of Political Science and International relations 5, 335 – 340.
Coleman, J. S. (1996). “Nigeria: Background to Nationalism”. Benin City: Borburg and Winston
Adesope, O. M., Agumagu, A. C. and Chiefson, B. (2000). “Youth Restiveness in the Niger Delta Area and Implications for Rural Development: The Case of Odi Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Nigeria”. Journal of Technology and Education in Nigeria, 5(1): 16-19.
Seiders, R. W. (1996). “FAOs Role in Supporting Rural Youth: Programmes and Possibilities for the Future”. In: JF Cook (Ed.): Expert Consultation on Extension Rural Youth Programmes and Sustainable Development. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.