1.1 Background of the Study
The Nigerian economy since the attainment of political independence in 1960 has undergone fundamental structural changes resulting to structural shifts which have however not resulted in any significant sustainable economic growth and development to ensure adequate employment opportunities for her youth. The development of the Nigerian nation from pre-colonial to independent and post-independent era to a large extent seems to also depend on the contributions of the youths. Despite their positive roles in National Development, they constitute the most vulnerable and volatile segment of the society.
The worsening economic situation in Nigeria from the austere periods to the SAP and Post-SAP era has threatened the collective psyche of the youth. General unemployment, lack of consistent policy framework for youth development, general economic hardship among others have thrown the youth into joblessness, agents of social vices and joblessness. As their conditions worsen, they have been used as agents of political thuggery and general social malady.
Moreover, they have become the major agents in social conflicts with diverse and devastating consequences in the nation. The Nigeria Economic Report released by the World Bank in 2011 stated that unemployment rate in Akwa Ibom worsened from “12% of the working population in 2006 to 24% in 2011”. Being among the top richest state in terms of crude oil production and federal allocation in the South-south region of Nigeria, unemployment rate in Akwa Ibom State is also increasing at an alarming rate. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) as at 2010, the unemployment rate of Akwa Ibom State was the second highest in the south-south zone with 36.1%.
However, the origin of unemployment in Nigeria can be traced back to the oil boom era of 1970s. During this period, Nigerian government and individuals abandoned skills acquisition and utilization through diversified entrepreneurship practices that have the capability to boost both individual and the country’s economic ego. Emphasis shifted from entrepreneurial skills and practices to paper qualification which has resulted in increased unemployment in the country.
However, it became apparent that the day of automatic- white-collar jobs immediately after university education has disappeared unceremoniously. Nigerian citizens before the oil boom believed in what one can do in order to ensure self-sustenance. For instance, an increase in the economic status of the country was as a result of diversified activities bordering on agricultural products such as cocoa, groundnut, palm kernel, palm oil, cassava, in addition to other craft practices. The educational system in Nigeria then encouraged craft practices even at the primary school level. During the period, Nigeria had so many skilled technicians such as carpenters, painters, auto-mechanics, fashion designers, hair dressers, among others.
Faced with the foregoing, Nigeria established the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) in March 1986 with its programmes formally launched in January 1987. The main objective of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) was the responsibility of Job Creation to the teeming populace of the unemployed in Nigeria. The programme was aimed at designing and articulating policies to tackle general unemployment problem in the country. This includes obtaining and maintaining a data bank on declared vacancies and employment in the economy with a view to reducing job search cost. The activities of NDE also cover all sectors of the economy.
Since its establishment, NDE has been grappling with the nagging issue of employment creation through its various programmes such as employment counseling services and job linkages, vocational skills acquisition training, entrepreneurial training and enterprise creation, training for rural employment promotion, training for labour-based transient works, collaboration with other relevant agencies and organization, among others. In other to achieve its mandate, NDE immediately spread its tentacle to all the 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory, Abuja. In Akwa Ibom State, NDE has its state head office in Uyo, the state capital, and four training centers spread across the three senatorial districts of the state.
The evidences in the country cum states’ unemployment position and most recently, the complementing evidence of employment test for recruitment into the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) conducted across the country on Saturday, March 15, 2014, which consisted of over 56, 000 applicants’, shows that a reappraisal of the country’s agencies on employment creation is important. Report shows that the exercise claimed the lives of about 16 applicants due to the stampede ensuing at the different test centers while many were left injured. This poses a serious worry to the researcher and results in the consideration of the study. The problem of unemployment has posed a great challenge to many countries, both developed and developing and regions of the country in which Akwa Ibom State is not an exception. The study, therefore, seeks to examine the efficiency/efficacy of youth employment scheme and National Development in Akwa Ibom State with particular reference to the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Uyo as a study area.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The study set out to solve youth unemployment in Nigeria through NDE scheme which was established to deal with the issues of mass unemployment in Nigeria. Despite the enormous impact of this Agency, NDE is still faced with challenges which have affected its operational and service delivery. The Nigerian economy since the attainment of political independence in 1960 has undergone fundamental changes. As a nation, Nigeria has been working tirelessly since the collapse of oil boom to achieve youth independence and improved economic status through several reforms and programme initiatives such as: The Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP),The National Directorate of Employment (NDE),Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agencies (SMEDAN) National Agency for Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP),Better Life Programme, National Open Apprenticeship Scheme, The Graduate Job Creation/Loan Guarantee Scheme, Agricultural Sector Employment Programme, Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YOUWIN), etc.
Despite these policies and programmes, youth unemployment remains a major challenge to the developmental process of the Nigerian economy. Youth unemployment appears to be shooting higher and higher as many Nigerian youths lack appropriate skills that will empower them after graduation from school. The “Nigerian Unemployment Report 2011” prepared by the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the rate of unemployment is higher in the rural areas with 25.6% than in the urban areas with 17.1%. The result of the survey by the National Bureau of Statistics shows that persons aged 0-14 years constituted 39.6%, those aged between 15-64% (the economically active population), constituted 56.3%, while those aged 65 years and above constituted 4.2%.