In Nigeria, democracy has been restored for over decades ago, with so much hopes and expectations by the people. 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 condition of the masses. This expectation is not misplaced considering that Nigeria has abundant human and natural resources in different parts of the large land mass of Nigeria that ranks as the largest black nation in the World with estimated population running to 150 million. However, the reality on ground has shown that this expectation is yet to be realized and just as the globally respected writer and novelist Professor Chinua Achebe wrote in his scholarly booklet titled ?The Trouble with Nigeria?, Nigeria?s fundamental crisis of development lies squarely with non-visionary political leadership because there is absolutely nothing wrong with our geography or climate as a country created by God. Hence, the growing sense of despondency among the masses and especially the younger population who ought to be groomed, economically empowered to become very productive and contribute significantly to Nigeria?s economic advancement. In other countries in North Africa like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya where dictators have held sway for over three decades, people made up largely of restive youths have revolted against the system and in some cases have successfully removed such dictatorship to make way for the new found democracy even though in places like Tunisia and Egypt, the expectations of the revolutionary youthful populations have not been sufficiently met because some forces are attempting to hijack the outcome of the popular revolutions to install their reactionary elements to control the political process. In Eypt for instance, the pro-Islamic brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi who emerged as the elected and inaugurated President of post Arab-spring Egypt has started imposition anti-media laws against perceived opponents.

Though these countries can be rightly said to be less democratic than Nigeria, yet the living condition of the people in real economic terms is better (Abati 2011, a; 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 guarantee that large army of unemployed youths will not engage in activities that would undermine the stability of democracy in Nigeria?

The problem of chronic youth unemployment is very evident in Nigeria. Every year thousands of graduates are churned out for whom there are no jobs and the relevant Government agencies like the Federal Ministry of Labour/productivity and that of youth development have spectacularly failed to formulate and implement pro-job creation policies to sufficiently galvanize the innate talents and overwhelming energy levels of these young Nigerian graduates of Universities and other tertiary institutions.

Nigerian streets are unfortunately littered literary with youth hawkers who ordinarily would have found gainful employment in some enterprises and the female younger street traders are consistently sexually molested by depraved adults and the Nigerian Government is very weak to take proactive measures to prevent the frequent cases of violent sexual offences and bring indicted suspects to justice. The anti-rape legislations are so weak and antiquated even as the operatives of the Nigeria Police lack integrity and the necessary capacity and skills to bring sexual offenders to effective prosecution and sanction in accordance with the provisions of the law. The large number of youths who are unemployed are capable of undermining democratic practice, as they constitute a serious threat if engaged by the political class for clandestine activities (Adepegba, 2011; Ibrahim, 2011; Lartey, 2011; Olatunji & Abioye,2011). We need to recall the ignominious role played by restive youth in the oil rich Niger Delta region prior to the Federal Government?s declaration of general amnesty and we need to also know that majority of the foot soldiers of the armed Islamic insurgents in the North waging war of attrition against the Nigerian State and other non-state actors like Christians and moderate Muslims, are youthful persons who claimed to be unhappy with the status quo. Although in this instance of mass killings by armed Islamic fundamentalists, there is absolutely no justification for the ongoing madness.

Although youth unemployment is often considered as a social problem, but it is also an industrial sociology issue especially as it relates to the supply of, and the demand for labour. For instance, no matter the relative economic benefits or gains workers may be enjoying or are reportedly making in their places of work, if the labour market is saturated thus giving rise to youth unemployment, this will make socio-economic and political environment ?hostile?, ?unstable?, ?insecure? ?unsafe? and  ?rancorous?, and such benefits or gains enjoyed by the workers will be eroded. These are the views of tested and trusted Scholars and knowledgeable experts.

Youth unemployment, therefore, could be described as the conglomerate of youths with diverse background, willing and able to work, but cannot find any when the supply of labour outstrips the demand for labour, it causes ?joblessness? and unemployment?. Given the lack of sufficient employment in the formal sector, young people may be compelled to engage in causal work and other unorthodox livelihood sources, thus leading to under-employment. (Echebiri, 2005; Gibb & George, 1990; Onah, 2001)

For Awogbenle and Iwuamadi (2010), the statistics from the Manpower Board and the Federal Bureau of Statistics showed that Nigeria has a youth population of 80 million, representing 60% of the total population of the country. Also, 64 million of them are unemployed, while 1.6 million are under-employed.

Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina noted that Nigeria?s unemployment rate is spiraling upwards, growing at 11 percent yearly, According to him ?Youth employment rate is over 50 percent. ?Our unemployment rate is spiraling, driven by the wave of four million young people entering the workforce every year with only a small fraction able to find formal employment.

The rising tide of unemployment and the fear of a bleak future among the youth in Nigeria, have made them vulnerable to the manipulations of agents ?provocateurs? as can be seen from the increasing cases of violent crimes such as armed kidnappings for ransom payments, targeted/hired assassinations and other manifestation of organized crimes like drug/human trafficking that have become unprecedented in our clime. Have we ever wondered why armed kidnappings seem to have become larger than life in our modern day Nigeria? The shock however is that Governments at every level in Nigeria pay lip service to actually providing workable panacea to these disturbing cases of youths? involvement in violent crimes.

The other day as some of us participated in the first ever Presidential retreat for civil society leaders hosted by President Jonathan in the State House in Abuja on September 6th 2012, what came out from the meeting is that most Government officials are not really interested in doing the right thing for posterity but are concerned deeply about entrenching themselves and their interest in the body politics. I came to this conclusion because as we entered the Banquet hall where the event is to take place, the organizers carefully ensured that the sitting arrangement is done in such a way that the actual leaders of the organized civil society are kept far away from the high table even as members of the Federal Government ministerial cabinet dominated the front chairs thereby preventing free flow of discussion. Most of us could not get the opportunity to tell President Jonathan a piece of our mind regarding the cases of violent crimes and weakening situation of law enforcement all across Nigeria because of this skewed sitting arrangement.

Government must therefore wake up from slumber and implement measures to create jobs or at least opportunities so that younger persons can be economically empowered to become self employed and not allowed to be deceived by reactionary forces or use them as agents of societal destruction. Those persons who can use these restive youths to achieve their selfish agenda include aggrieved politicians, religious demagogues, and greedy multinationals that employ these youths to achieve their selfish ambitions.

It is clearly evident that the absence of job opportunities in developing countries is responsible for YOUTH RESTIVENESS with disastrous consequences and the case of Nigeria is not an exception as traces of youth involvement in highly organized violent crimes become ever more disturbing and are indeed on the rise without any feasible solution in place by Government to confront these dangerous trends frontally.

This leaves in its trails the following consequences that have been identified by sociologists and these factors are; low productivity; intra-ethnic hostilities; unemployment; poverty-prostitution and environmental degradation. This conclusion again has scientific basis because it was also the same conclusion reached by internationally reputable scholars on sociology and development.

The words ?youth? and ?restiveness? have become so community used together in the last couple of years that it seems to have taken on a life of its own. In the last decade and more there has been a proliferation of cases all over the country and indeed the world, of youth agitations which have left thousands of people dead and valuable infrastructure as well as personal properties lost and destroyed in the ensuing conflagration and revolts.

Studies from the masters have shown that a sustained protestation embarked upon to enforce a desired outcome from a constituted authority by an organized body of youths, fits the label of ?Youth Restiveness? just as it is also defined in terms of being a combination of any action of conduct that constitutes unwholesome, socially unacceptable activities engaged in by the youths in any community.

For instance, the Niger Delta region which is unarguably the bedrock of the oil industry in Nigeria permeated the news for a lengthy period of time as the youths of that region tried various means of getting government and oil companies to pay attention to their dire conditions of living and alleviate their sufferings since, according to them, the resources which is building the nation is flowing from their land so by virtue of that they should also be partakers of its benefits.

This strife led to rise in kidnapping and vandalization of oil pipelines as well as other vices that were being perpetrated. After a period of years, the Nigerian government intervened and the Amnesty program was created to help deliver some of the promises which government had made to the youths in those areas. But other restive youth especially in the South East are left to their own design in the face of increasing poverty and collapse of vital socio-economic infrastructure and rapidly declining opportunities for growth and self advancement. Armed kidnappings and other crimes have therefore assumed dangerous dimension in the South East and the Federal Government is helplessly going about as if these issues do not border the officials. Even in the Niger Delta region some youths have protested vigorously to have been left out by Government in the implementation of the Federal Government amnesty program which is seen in some radical segment of the society as simply bribing some troublesome youths of the Niger Delta without Government implementing sustainable projects to develop the Niger Delta in reality. Recently, controversy arose when the foreign media disclosed huge multi-million USD security contracts awarded to selected former ex-militants in the Niger Delta to provide security for oil pipelines by the NNPC. The youth in the far North are complaining bitterly that Government?s action was ill-conceived and unfortunate. Some of the benefitting former armed militants like Asari Dokubo defended the huge contracts awarded to some of them because the resources are found in their backyards even as he chalenged Northern politial elite to come clean in the use of public fund to bring about development in the North rather than steal these resources to invest abroad like the case of a certain serving Northern Governor who built the largest farms in Northern Cyprus. Dokubo did not name the Northern Governor who built this massive commercial mechanized farm in Europe amid mass poverty and insecurity in Northern Nigeria. Shehu Sani, one of the few vocal and trusted civil society leaders in the North has also criticized the Northern Political elite for progressively impoverishing the North though criminal acts of corruption and economic crimes. He also accused these political elite in the North of stoking the fire and embers of insecurity and terrorism enveloping the entire Northern region just as he charged highly placed Government officials of Northern extraction like the Vice President to show good leadership in leading the process of healing and restoring peace, tranquility and progress in the heavily violence-torn Northern region.

Today the Northern part of Nigeria has literally erupted with unrivalled violence, Bomb blasts, kidnaps and killings of innocent Nigerians and other have become the prevailing trend. Despite beefing up of security in those areas, the problems still looms because the Nigerian security architecture is weak and the security community lack good enough intelligence gathering mechanism to be able to nip these attacks in their buds and to enforce proactive security measures to stop these wanton killings of innocent Nigerians by armed Islamic rebels. This situation begs the questions, ?What is the government of the day willing to do to put a permanent end to these problems??


From all indication, youth unemployment is a menace in Nigeria and constitutes a real danger and a threat to Nigeria?s democracy. Funny enough, the ruling party at the federal level in Nigeria, the Peoples Democratic Party still live in denial of the fact that they have misled Nigeria into the current situation of near-anarcy and lawlessness characterized by mass poverty, nad collapsing infrastructure. The Political party recently celebrated the fourteen years of its creation but was unable to justify the way the huge financial resources amassed by Nigeria from export of crude oil were expended. There is total non-existence of accountability and transparency on the part of very important Government agencies such as the NNPC regarding how huge sums of public fund grew wings and disappeared into private pockets of highly placed Government officials. The youth perceive the two anti-graft agencies in Nigeria as sleeping on duty while politicians steal Nigeria blind. Even other political parties that control other layers of Government in the South West, South East and South West have failed to account for huge resources that ought to be spent to procure vital infrastructure to service the basic needs of the poor and impoverished masses made up largely of the youth. Suc tendencies can give rise to violent youth restiveness if not comprehensively tackled.

Therefore to massively plan method for curbing youth restiveness officials should among other prgamatic and practical steps:-     Increase allocations and realistically/transparently utilize these financial resources for youth development and youth-related programme such as capacity building workshops and the delivery of skills on enterpreneural leadership for the youth of Nigeria;  Ensure accessibility of information for skill acquisition, self employment, job opportunities, and self-reliance among youth through seminars, workshops, and lectures whereby youth are selected on merit to attend and benefit from the outcome and inputs into such empowerment programs.

Importantly,   Government must not relent in the crusade against all forms of corruption in public and private lives in Nigeria;     Government must play its constitutional role by creating enabling socio-economic and political environment including the provision of infrastructure to make industrial climate investment friendly and the current scramble by former Government officials to acquire public assets through the tainted privaitization agenda must be discouraged because if such impunity is allowed it will become a bad signal that those who go into Government offices and steal the public blind would be rewarded with ownership of Government funded public assets such as the facilities of the Power Holden Company of Nigeria for which the media recently reported that two former military Heads of State Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar and the former Governor of Lagos state are in the race of their lives to buy into.

These recommendations good as they are will not make any meaning if Government officials known to have stolen public fund are left without bringing them to face the consequences of their dastardly criminal act of corruption and economic crime. This anti-graft posture if vigourously and transparently pursued will encourage investors to invest and thereby create jobs in order to absorb the unemployment youths. Those genuine investors who want to invest must not be discouraged through bureacracy and bribe-induced delays because this is one factor that has continued to discourage foreign direct investments since even the World Bank study recently confirmed that most businesses are compelled to pay bribe by Government officials in Nigeria. The ease of doing business must be made transparent and open so that the enabling environment for jobs to be created for the youth could be encouraged in Nigeria.

Finally, we believe just like other scholars have severally affirmed, that unless, a reasonable standard of living is guaranteed and equitably provided in Nigeria for the youth, they will continue to tend towards violence and crime. Social order can only be promoted in Nigeria when ?children, young persons and the aged are protected against any exploitation whatsoever and against moral and materialistic neglect.? Only by squarely providing the necessary economic, social and political support for the youth and by gainfully engaging them in nation building can we begin to break the link between youth and violence in Nigeria (Youth restiveness).

+Emmanuel Onwubiko and Nneka Okonkwo, esq wrote in from Human Rights Writers? Association of Nigeria; Lagos Nigeria.


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