Unemployment in Nigeria is a complex and pressing issue that has far-reaching economic and social implications. While the country possesses vast potential and a young, dynamic workforce, several underlying causes contribute to the persistent problem of unemployment. Unemployment can be defined as the state of an economy when people are willing and able to do some product work or a job, but the jobs are unavailable. When the numbers of job seekers exceed the number of available jobs, then the economy is said to suffer from the problem of unemployment.
The definitions suggest that for a person to be regarded as unemployed in the strict sense, such a person must be employable. Employable in the sense that the person is able and willing to be employed in a sector, but due to unavailability of jobs, the person has none.
Unemployment is essentially caused by lack of paid work that people are willing to and capable of taking. Nigeria is one of the countries with a very high unemployment rate. This is as a result of several factors which this article is set to highlight.
Top 14 Main Causes of Unemployment in Nigeria 2023
The following are causes of unemployment in Nigeria:
1. Ghost working or Ghost Employment: Ghost working also known as ghost employment, is an illegal practice where people who are not part of the employees in an organization are included in the payroll system. This is usually done by recording a fictitious person on the payroll, or even a real person with or without the person’s knowledge.
The end purpose of this practice is usually to receive the salary due to the person so ghosted, even when the person does not work for the organization. People in high offices in an organization may even place their children with their identity to secure a ghost work and receive their salaries. For instance, an organization may have about 50 people recorded on their payroll system while only about 30 people are the physically known employees in the organization.
Sometimes, this can also be seen where some people are sacked in an organization yet they still receive salaries, but now to the ghosted account of the head officer who perpetuates ghost employment. The effect of this illegal practice is that it gives more work to the employees who are physically known to the organization, and yet occupy for nothing, employment vacancies which ought to be available to more persons.
Ghost working is a serious and often neglected cause of unemployment in Nigeria. The payroll system of organizations should be scrutinized in order to scrap out ghost workers and by so doing, make available opportunities for actual people to fill up the vacancies.
2. Lack of Skills: School system in Nigeria is designed to incorporate a lot of theories and less of practical. Students who desire to develop themselves in the practical aspect of their course of study may have to go extra mile in search of such opportunities. Students may achieve so by engaging in part time practical learning and internships. And of course, such exercise does not give all that is required in the practical field.
Upon graduation from school, most job opportunities have no such time, resources and interest to offer a trainee program. Therefore, they most times demand for experienced personnel with maybe at about three years practical experience, of which the job is only available to persons of not more than 26 years of age.
This is not so in other countries that incorporates more of practical than theories in their academic system. This poses a challenge and as such, contributes to reasons why the rate of unemployment is high in Nigeria. People who do not possess the requisite skill may find it impossible to get employed.
3. Lack of Opportunity and Industrialization in Rural Areas: Infrastructural development in Nigeria is usually targeted at already developed areas of the country. This is because industrialists and business men believe that over there at the city would quickly be open to business than the rural areas. In fact, government intervention may be needed in order to massively develop certain rural areas.
As a result of this, people may resort to developing and managing their little portion in the urban area and may have to squeeze their massive industrial idea into a smaller scale. The rural areas are usually neglected because they are considered not to be the main part of the state. So many rural areas in Nigeria have bare lands which can be duly acquired and utilized for the purpose of industrialization. This neglect poses as another cause of unemployment in Nigeria.
4. Disabilities: Although the issue of discrimination has been taken care of by Nigerian laws as pertaining employment of disabled people, it seems that this cannot be entirely extinguished. Disabled people may physically be unable to engage in certain kind of job. Some of them may resort to street begging while other becomes solely dependent on the people around them in order to feed daily. This renders them unemployed.
5. Laziness: Now, a lot of people wants to do nothing and yet get paid. The act of laziness fans the ember of all sorts of crimes such as fraud, robbery, kidnapping, etc because they seem to be an easier way of getting money with a little touch of risk. Apart from being employed, people can as well be self employed.
People may have the down resources and ability to be self employed and still choose to remain idle in order to increase the number of unemployed people in the country. if people can be self employed but choose not to do that which is necessary to become self employed, they are simply being lazy and this amounts to another cause of unemployment in Nigeria.
6. Demand and Pay: Demand here is simply the unavailability of vacancies. If the work demand is filled, there would be no need to hire more employees. Limited availability of slots is another cause of unemployment in Nigeria.
On the other hand, pay is the amount of reward due to workers in consideration for their work. If the pay is low or not commensurate to the workload, people may rather choose to stay unemployed than to settles for a less income job.
7. Overpopulation: Overpopulation has become a source of menace to Nigeria as a country and to its economy. Overpopulation certainly contributes to the rate of unemployment in Nigeria. The value of the economy has become disproportionate to the population rate. The available jobs cannot possibly satisfy a ratio out of the population.
8. Corruption in Government: Corruption has permeated all sectors of governance in Nigeria. Accumulation of resource by sprinkling number of individuals defeats the purposes of public funds, and fans the ember of unemployment in Nigeria.
9. Redundancy: Robotization and computerization – redundancy occurs when the amount of manpower available for execution of works and services becomes superfluous and thereby exceeding what is necessary.
Where machineries take over works which are ordinarily done by manpower, this leads to redundancy and may cause the workers to be dismissed. This may cause an increase in the rate of unemployment.
10. Inflation and Reduction in Economic Value: Inflation is the increase in the general level of prices or in the cost of living. It is a decline in the value of money. Generally, money does not constitute value. Money is merely a means for measurement of value. Where therefore, the productivity and economic value of the country drops down due to poor management of the economy and other factors, it reduces the value of the currency.
The implication is that every person in a salaried employment will be affected. This is because, since their salary is usually fixed, such amount would be devalued and becomes incommensurate to the level of the economy. This renders their pay worthless, and if not remedied, people may opt out from the job instead of running round the clock.
11. Tribalism and Nepotism: Tribalism/nepotism are cankerworms that have wreaked havoc on Nigerian society. Colloquially known as having a “connection” or “long leg“, they refer to the practice of hiring somebody based on where they are from or who they are. In the end, the more qualified individuals remain unemployed.
In Nigeria, tribalism and nepotism have become widespread and deeply entrenched in many aspects of society, including the job market. As a result, job opportunities in Nigeria are often not based on merit, but rather on the applicant’s tribal or family background, leading to a situation where many qualified and competent job seekers are denied employment opportunities in favour of less qualified candidates from the same tribal or family group as the employer.
The impact of tribalism on the Nigerian job market is particularly severe since there are over 250 different ethnic groups. The practice of tribalism often leads to a situation where job vacancies are reserved for members of specific ethnic groups, thereby limiting the opportunities available to others. This creates a situation where individuals from non-favoured ethnic groups may face difficulty in securing employment opportunities, despite their qualifications and competencies.
Similarly, nepotism also plays a significant role in the job market, particularly in the public sector. Family members of influential politicians or public officials are often given preferential treatment in employment opportunities, which deprives other qualified applicants of opportunities. This leads to a situation where many Nigerians feel that job opportunities are only available to a select few, who have connections with people in power.
12. Poor Educational System: The poor quality of education in Nigeria is also a major cause of unemployment. The country’s educational system is not capable of preparing students for the modern workforce, and many graduates are not equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to secure well-paying jobs.
This results in a mismatch between the skills of the labour force and the needs of employers, making it difficult for many graduates to find work. Gone are the days where Nigerian graduates could effectively compete with their counterparts from other parts of the world. Every year half-baked graduates are released into the labour market. Due to the poor standard of education, many end up unemployed.
13. Lack of Entrepreneurship: In Nigeria, a lack of entrepreneurship is a significant contributor to unemployment. Many young people in the nation lack the expertise, abilities, and money necessary to launch their businesses, which prevents them from creating jobs for both themselves and other people.
To boost job creation and lower the nation’s unemployment rate, the government needs to offer more assistance to business owners.
14. Political Instability: Political instability is also a major cause of unemployment in Nigeria. The frequent changes in government policies and regulations make it difficult for businesses to plan for the future, and many companies are reluctant to invest in the country due to the uncertain political climate.
This lack of investment results in fewer jobs being created, which contributes to the high levels of unemployment in the country.
Currently, Nigeria is faced with a massive inflation. So many sectors have demonstrated their interest through strike action. The reason for the strike action is simply summed up to the fact that the economy is no longer at the same pace with their pay. And when this happens, people may choose to remain idle or explore other illegal means of making money rather than dance round the clock. When the economy is devalued, it becomes incapable paying the employed, talk more of employing more people.
The cause of unemployment in Nigeria is not limited to the factors discussed above. The discovery of these factors is a bold step to finding a remedy. Now that the problem has been discovered, it behoves on persons whom it is due to do that which is right in order to ameliorate the hardship of unemployment in Nigeria. Since individual responsibility has been redefined, this seems to demand an individual responsibility, starting from birth control to the last.