Nigeria has a population of 198 million people with about 23% of them unemployed. Several millions of people also remain under-employed with economists not giving them the necessary attention
A cross-section of the BBNaija crowd in Lagos The Big Brother Naija reality show which is known to promote all manners of sexual immorality and foulness is here again and Nigerians are rushing to join the family like it’s the gate of heaven. The auditions organized on the 1st and 2nd of February, 2019 across 8 states in Nigeria have been attended by thousands of Nigerian youths with an estimated average age of 21 seeking for better opportunities in the face of an economy which is in a dire situation. The fact that the first audition held on a working day and still recorded such a huge turn-out by young people exposes the rate of joblessness and hopelessness in the land.
The level of unemployment has been compounded by the ongoing ASUU and ASUP industrial strikes with the so-called leaders of tomorrow lazying around and disturbing social media spaces. Very soon, they will graduate from school and a company will tell them that the job vacancy has an age limit – mostly 24-26 for graduate trainee jobs. They will be forced to settle with the mushroom companies that guarantee nothing positive about personal and career development or respect for labour laws. Nigeria has a population of 198 million people with about 23% of them unemployed. Several millions of people also remain under-employed with economists not giving them the necessary attention. The under-employed are living on take-home-pays that can’t actually take them home with the cost of living in cities skyrocketing amid a surge in the number of dependants. Between the year 2016 and 2017, 7.9 million people lost their jobs under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. In the latest statistics on unemployment released by the National Bureau of Statistics, about 3.3 million people joined the labour market in search for non-existent jobs. In the face of a blatant failure of the government to create an enabling environment for human development, every Nigerian youth will be seeking desperate measures within and outside the law to escape poverty and this has been expressed through armed robberies, kidnappings, blackmails, online prostitution, illegal migration, peddling of drugs, internet scam, ritualism and others.
With a reality show promising the hungry, idle and struggling youths a whopping sum of N45 million in prizes coupled with quick fame and three months of free food, they will be desperate enough to walk on people to make it to the presence of the judges who might not be actually judging anything . We know how such things work in Nigeria. Corporate organizations learnt that deceit from the public institutions. You announce a job vacancy to the public and collect thousands of applications when the anointed and unqualified candidate is at a beer parlour unwinding simply because he knows the influential people at the helm of affairs, it’s called ‘man-know-man’ in local parlance. This is worse when we think of what the Big Brother Naija reality show which promotes South Africa above the host country stands for. The reality show is a huge distraction and it has produced more high profile prostitutes and other broke young men who can’t cope with the financial demands of stardom. They always enter stardom with no services or products to sell rather than social media controversies and dirty fights. As videos of the sea of heads at different audition venues were released on social media, my heart bled.
Some youths desperately slept at the venues of the audition so as to be attended to first by the panel of judges. Some arrived at the venues as early as 6am in the morning while others, shockingly ladies resorted to dangerously scaling over barriers to make it to the audition rooms. A lot of people collapsed due to overcrowding, stress, dehydration and poor crowd control measures. These challenges didn’t deter people as they saw the show as their own Canaan land as Nigeria has become their Egypt. Yesterday in Lagos, the Big Brother audition wasn’t only a problem to itself; it was also a menace to other uninterested people going for work. At the Allen area in Ikeja, there was a serious traffic gridlock that hampered the movement of other people innocently hustling for their daily bread. The auditions which looked like crusade grounds were organized with the employment of inadequate safety measures like First Aid facilities, crowd control, adequate security and other emergency facilities because whatever fate befalls the hopefuls isn’t the problem of organizers with capitalist orientations.
They are not alone, the government thinks like that too. I hope its isn’t true that President Muhammadu Buhari who is being paraded as the next best thing after Jesus Christ or Mohammed doesn’t read like the Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi said in a leaked conversation he has neither admitted or denied. I wish Buhari could see the youths he promised a better life in 2014/2015 seeking desperate measures to make their lives count. I make bold to say that most of the purported achievements of the Buhari administration can’t survive any credible fact-checks by independent bodies. We are sitting on a keg of gunpowder and very soon, no level of private investment in security will save a rich man from being eaten by the poor for survival. I hope the teeming youths could channel their energies into the right directions so that the right candidate can be put in power. One of the major challenges Nigeria has faced since inception is leadership. When the head of a fish is bad, it also affects the body. I wish all the youths attending the two-day auditions could stage a protest as large as what is obtainable in Venezuela presently as led by the opposition leader and ‘interim president’ Juan Gerardo Guaidó .
I also wish they could dedicate that same positivity into obtaining their PVCs, shunning votes trading, violence and coming out to vote for their leader with a realistic roadmap to take Nigeria out of the wilderness. Nigeria would certainly be a better place for us all if we discover and exploit the democratic powers in our hands. We have no business being the poverty capital of the world and there is a stinking projection that there will be 100 million extremely poor people in Nigeria in the year 2020. The IMF is only forecasting a 2% growth in the GDP of Nigeria which is just slightly better than its last 1.8% growth. This is not the progress we want. Nigeria is blessed with abundance of human and natural resources, we only need to get our politics right to fix the country. Dear Buhari, the large turn-out of youths at the audition venues of an ephemeral show that mostly benefits the winner and just another two out of 20 contestants paints the bold picture of how your administration has failed to create opportunities for the youths and giving you another chance will be a high risk only valiant warriors can take. Permit me to end this opinion editorial with the Facebook post of a Nigerian journalist named – Fredrick Nwabufo.
It has been playing over and over in my head since I read it. “These young people (Big Brother Naija hopefuls) are the bravest. They took a chance to save themselves from Nigeria.You understand Nigeria better after the national youth service. One year after, no job, no benefactor; nothing. And your girlfriend just dumped you. You long to go back to NYSC, so that at least you could get some cash at the end of the month.I am not sure of any statistics, but I think guys experience more heart-breaks immediately after university or NYSC than at any other time in their lives. That is between the age of 23 and 27. And this is the most trying time in the life of a young Nigerian male.But this is the time ladies experience a boom in the dating game. So, they would not like to stick around with a loser. It is natural. It is all about survival. BBN will give these young people a chance to be reckonable; and a chance to survive. Most of them are at a point in their lives where there is no direction.I only wish the programme can take all of them. Nigeria is already too hard to mock young people who are only trying to survive. It is not about priority. It is about survival.”