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Second Prize Winning Essay of the CIPMN Annual Essay Competition, 2012

Ever read a winning essay? Here is one that recently won a national prize. In yielding to the popular demand of venerated fans and respected readers of Naija Writers’ Coach, I have decided to publish my winning entry in the 2012 edition of the Annual National Essay Competition of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPMN). After all, who am I and what is NWC if you readers don’t visit?

The piece is long, but I do strongly hope it’d be well worth your time. You may choose to read it below or download the PDF file by clicking  on: Employment Generation and Expansion… A Panacea for Security Challenge in Nigeria by Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin

So please read, relish, leave comments and share the piece.

Employment Generation and Expansion: A Panacea for Security Challenge in Nigeria

Introduction

In Nigeria today, no other problem threatens the corporate existence of the nation as insecurity and internal crises. There is popular discontent of the masses with the ruling class and the society at large due to mass unemployment and endemic poverty amidst abundance of human and material resources. The agile, but dormant and underutilized or out rightly unemployed human resources become willing collaborators with criminals as a way of venting their grievances or an alternative way of earning a living.

This paper contends that a reversion of the precarious state of unemployment and dire poverty would greatly ameliorate, if not eradicate, the security challenge the Nigerian nation is facing.

The Condition of Security in Nigeria

A lot of measures are put in place to bolster state security with groups like the State Security Service (SSS), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the Joint Task Force (JTF); large numbers of people incarcerated like lager beers in a cooler; frequent declaration of curfews and sometimes, state of emergencies; periodic dismissals of National Security Advisers (NSA), Defence Ministers, Inspectors General of Police (IGP); and vast sums of money appropriated and expended to tame insecurity. In the 2012 budget alone, an incredible 25% of the planned expenditure of government is allocated to security. Yet, terrorism, insecurity, wanton wastage of lives and indiscriminate spillage of innocent blood are commonplace.

From the Maitatsine mayhem of the 80’s, the recurrent Oodua Peoples Congress’s (OPC) bedlam, the Niger Delta uprisings to the present Boko Haram’s raging carnage and God knows what next, Nigeria has always groaned under the stiff grip of insecurity and breakdown of law.

There are daily reports of brutal attacks, concerted kidnapping, heartless maiming of innocent citizens, killing of women, children and disabled, indiscriminate burning of houses and vehicles, destruction of business enterprises and disruption of peaceful social and community life by one group of disgruntled citizens or the other. (Muhammed: 2011).

A plethora of militia groups such as the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Boko Haram threaten the corporate existence of the nation. The last constitutes the most dreaded insecurity imbroglio anywhere on the African soil today. If unmistakable mathematical precision of routine bomb detonation, unprecedented sophistication at wrecking havoc and strategic target of important places and memorable dates were the three hallmarks of a successful mission, the Boko Haram onslaught would be a primus inter pares.

So succinctly has Ibekwe Blessing mocked the dilapidated security machinery in Nigeria in her Facebook post on 5th June, 2012, just two days after the Dana Plane crash: “How to cross a road in Nigeria: look left and right to avoid vehicles; look front and back to avoid kidnappers; look up to avoid planes; look down to avoid bombs.”

The Roots of Security Failure

The failure of all the security measures in ensuring safety of lives and property is inextricably linked to the breakdown of governance, the hallmark of which is mass unemployment and widespread poverty in a country which prides herself as the top exporter of crude oil in West Africa. Poverty is classified as a behavioural disease by the World Health Organization (2011: Z59.5) in its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. Financial servitude is a disease which often opens the doors to an ocean of atrocities. An impoverished fellow is a potential, if not an actual, thief, mendicant, armed robber, sex hawker, cultist, kidnapper, suicide bomber or even a murderer. The Niger Delta unrest for instance sprouted when concerted oil spillage hindered farming and fishing – the two traditional occupations in the region – and engendered unemployment and pervasive penury.

With over ten million almajiris (child beggars) wandering the streets of Northern Nigeria (Muhammed: 2011); 23.9% of employable Nigerians unemployed (Business Day Newspaper, 2011); and the findings of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in January, 2012 that 112 million Nigerians (61%) live on less than a dollar per day (BBC, 2012), the Fund For Peace (FFP) is justified in its recent ranking of Nigeria as the 14th most failed nation on earth! (FFP, Failed State Index, 2012).

Aside the failure of the government to provide reasonable and sufficient employment opportunities, a lot of avoidable and redundant artificial restrictions are further placed on self employment and job creation opportunities. Social services like roads, bridges, water systems, electricity networks and other facilities that enhance job creation are out rightly lacking or grossly inadequate. Currently, Nigeria is ranked 108 out of 175 countries in the IFC Ease of Doing Business Index, a position far lower to those of Morocco, Egypt, Cameroon, Senegal and the Gambia. (El-Rufai: 2012)

From a modest 5.3% in December, 2005, the unemployed population of Nigeria – the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labour force – quadrupled to 23.9% in December, 2011. (El-Rufai: 2012)

The wanton neglect faced by the masses make them susceptible to criminal tendencies in order to make ends meet. As Chief Emeka Anyaoku (2011: 15-16) puts it:

Many Nigerians feel hopeless because of the general situation. They feel uncared for by their country. This is probably why there seems to be no restraint or limit to the extent some of our citizens can go to help themselves. This culture of self help which encourages disregard of societal norms has seemingly spread and become widely accepted as a way of life.

It manifests itself in the anti‐social behaviour in which some Nigerians are frequently involved. The anti‐social behavior range from such seemingly minor acts as deliberately jumping traffic lights and driving against one‐way streets, to the notorious 419 scam and human trafficking.

When the government failed the impoverished people of the Niger Delta region and the frustrated members of the Boko Haram, they each found solace and a belonging in militancy and terrorism. They lost faith in themselves, the government and society, so they sought meaning elsewhere. Sam Omatseye (2012: 52) calls this the creation of an “alternative society”. He adds:

Since government failed the youth, he [Mohammed Yusuf] decided to be their government. When they were hungry, he gave them food. When they were naked, he clad them. When they were out in the chill, in near-desert heat and relentless downpour, he gave shelter. When they were of age with little money for expensive weddings, he secured cheap nuptials. He provided for them what the government failed to do. So they became faithful. Under that shelter and in that ambience, they ate, loved, grew, travelled, married, hated.

Effacing the menace

Many pundits have recommended that to combat insecurity, the security machinery including the number of police officers, the capacity of prison and the budget for each of them should be increased. A writer, Zainab Usman (2012) has also theorized that emphasizing our common national heritage such as the national flag and the national anthem is the remedy to Nigeria’s hydra-headed security challenge.

These arguments however appear misplaced. Promoting out national symbols and slogans which have become gibberish to many Nigerians would not guarantee a salary or put meals on the table; it would not abate insecurity. Neither would pumping more funds into the security sector give the desired output.

As noted earlier, a lot of measures and resources go into trying to remedy the security malady of Nigeria, with all of them rendered a disgrace to their name. The reason for this is not far-fetched. The fact is, the efforts have been reactive rather than proactive; they have been directed at curbing insecurity itself rather than its causes. If a tree litters the ground with its leaves, you don’t continuously expend money sweeping the rubbish; you cut the tree. So if the government is serious about curbing insecurity, it should not allocate 25% of the nation’s budget to security; it should create jobs and tackle unemployment.

According to Prof Ben Nwabueze (1989: 2),

The economic security of the individual is or should be of far greater concern to the government and society than the security of the state, for…whatever threat of danger that faces the Nigerian state today stems more from the absence of economic security, particularly economic insecurity arising from mass unemployment. ‘Full employment,’ the Minister of Employment, Labour and Productivity, Abubakar Umar, has said, ‘is…our guarantee of stability, security and balanced economic development.’ Our efforts should therefore be directed more at fighting the root causes of whatever threat there is to the security of the state.

If government adds value to people’s lives, caters to their welfare, abate their economic woes and frustrations, implements policies that give them ample reasons why they should live and enjoy their existence, no citizen would find it fanciful to find an alternative society or resort to criminal conducts which would not only make him lose those goodies, but also earn him severe punishments.

Granted that eradication of extreme poverty is the first item of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the fifth principle of sustainable development and an important component of the Vision 20:2020, the government is bound, under national and international policies, to generate employment for her teeming population. Section 14 (2)(b) of the Constitution, though unenforceable by virtue of section 6 (6)(c), directs that, “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”

Employment Generation and Expansion

The task of creating employment requires all hands to be on deck; it necessitates the collaboration of all stakeholders. Government must diversify the economy and resuscitate the neglected sectors of the economy, especially the agricultural sector. It must boost economic activities by raising capital expenditures substantially. When well-equipped schools, roads, bridges, water systems, housing, health care services, electricity networks and other projects that facilitate job creation are embarked upon, the ease of doing business would be greatly enhanced. This is what Sanni Abiola (2006: 103) called the conferral of social benefit technique of governance.

Concerted efforts should also be made to reform the various agencies involved in creating employment and alleviating poverty. The National Directorate of Employment (NDE), the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) and the Bank of Industry should step up their works and generate sustainable employment.

The ordinary citizen also has a role to play in this. Individuals should strive, and encourage others, to acquire the necessary business acumen needed to chart a pathway to economic buoyancy. The acquisition of entrepreneurial skills in carpentry, tailoring, painting, plumbing, etc., should be embraced. This is the approach which greatly alleviated the Niger Delta uprising under the amnesty scheme.

Each person has an innate, unique set of talents and super abilities which he can monetize with ease. Some are creative writers, others are orators, some enjoy bead making, others fancy stage decoration, private teaching, phone or computer repairs, printing, hand-made cards, web designing, radio presentation, etc. For one to discover his specific potentials, he must ask himself what it is that he is gifted in, he loves and enjoys doing at all times, whether or not he is paid for it.

One who takes pleasure in scribbling words on papers and assembling them into literary gems would make a proficient writer. He needs be encouraged and enlightened that he could work as a freelance writer for national and international media bodies, become a published author or organize writing workshops and make the participants pay a modest gate fee. One who always sees grammatical blunders everywhere he goes would make a great editor and he could get paid helping others edit their projects, seminar papers, CVs and other manuscripts.

In fact, many often-taken-for-granted skills like computer software development, website designing, radio presentation, tutoring, etc. are all extremely veritable sources of income.

Conclusion

As argued above, the roots of the insecurity challenges combating the Nigerian nation is widespread poverty and unemployment which engenders a feeling of resentment and disaffection in the citizenry. All stakeholders must therefore collaborate to create jobs and expand employment in order for serenity to return to the nation.

Bibliography

1. British Broadcasting Corporation, “Nigerians Living in Poverty Rise to Nearly 61%” (13 February 2012) Available online at <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17015873 > accessed on 2nd July, 2012.

2. Ben Nwabueze, “Social Security in Nigeria,” being a paper delivered at the 10th anniversary of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 1989.

3. El-Rufai Nasir, “Where Are The Jobs,” (September 9, 2011). Available online at <http://saharareporters.com/article/where-are-jobs-nasir-ahmad-el-rufai?page=1> accessed on 28 June, 2012.

4. Emeka Anyaoku, “Nigeria At 50: The Challenges Of Nationhood,” being a Distinguished Management Lecture organized by the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM) on the 7th of July, 2011.

5. Fund For Peace (FFP), Failed State Index, 2012. Available online at <http://www.fundforpeace.org/global/?q=fsi-grid2012> accessed on 04 July, 2012.

6.  Iheanyi Nwachukwu, “Survey Shows Nigeria’s Unemployment Rate at 23.9% in 2011,” Business day Newspaper (25 January 2012). Available online at <http://businessdayonline.com/NG/index.php/economic-watch/32204-survey-shows-nigerias-unemployment-rate-at-239-in-2011- > accessed on 1st July, 2012.

7. Muhammed, Abdullahi, “The Boko Haramic Menace: Religion or Politics?”, The Muslims Weekly Newspaper(22 July 2011), 4.

8. International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision, Canada (ICD-10-CA), Vol. 1, World Health Organization, 2011.

9. Muhammed Abdullahi, “Nigeria’s Child Beggars: The Almajiris,” African Outlook      Online. Available online at http://www.africanoutlookonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2942:the-almajiris-nigerias-child-beggars&catid=96:allcomers&Itemid=54> accessed on 3rd July, 2012.

10. Sam Omatseye, “Home Alone,” The Nation Newspaper (20 February, 2012). Available online at < http://www.thenationonlineng.net/2011/index.php/columnist/monday/sam-omatseye/37267-home-alone.html > accessed on 4th July, 2012.

11. Sanni Abiola, Introduction To Nigerian Legal Method; (2nd Ed.), 2006, Obafemi Awolowo University Press Limited, Ile Ife, Nigeria.

12. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

13. Zainab Usman, “The Failed States Index and Nation-Building in Nigeria,” Nigerians Talk. Available online at < http://nigerianstalk.org/2012/07/05/the-failed-states-index-and-nation-building-in-nigeria/> accessed on 6th July, 2012.

 

Download PDF version here: Employment Generation and Expansion… A Panacea for Security Challenge in Nigeria by Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin

 

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About Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin

Writer. Difference Maker. Entrepreneur. Author, Your Right To Write & Vertical Writing. Winner, 11 Writing Prizes.

Comments

  1. A great work. Pray Allah to increase you in knowledge and understanding.

  2. Awesome piece

  3. Subhanallah! Allah is indeed great, dis is a brilliant piece, may the bountiful lord increase u in knowledge and reward ur efforts. Keep it up.

  4. Coker Temitope says:

    wow, to tell you the truth, when I began reading, the piece, it was a little boring….but then, I really do not regret getting to the end. It is a wonderful write-up. I, especially, connect with the what one can do and monetize with ease. Indeed, this write up has opened my eyes to the gift of entrepreuneship…..all i can say is well done.

  5. A v.Good piece, I liked it ’twas realistic.
    I av a question, is d outlining of each topic really neccessary? Like writing “Introduction”,
    “the conditions for security in nigeria”,
    “the roots for security failure”
    or is it because it was mailed as a book so it served as a title for each page

  6. Offorbike says:

    Waow! This work is spectacular! Pls what is the word limit for this contest.

  7. Took me awhile to read this and I must say: “NICE WORK!”.
    But I have a question. Is a thing of compulsion for a writer to partition his essay by making use of sub-headings? Thanks.

  8. okoro yvonne says:

    pls i want to apply for dis yr’s cipm essay contest, but a letter fropm d regristrar of my university is needed(uniben). How do i go about it? Thanks

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