Dangers of Unemployment in Nigeria

Dangers of Unemployment in Nigeria

In the past decade, the incidence of unemployment in Nigeria has been alarming and the rates keep on rising. In this article, we examine the dangers of unemployment in Nigeria. In other words, we take a look at some of the social, economic and political consequences of unemployment in the country. Our findings show that some of the problems associated with unemployment in Nigeria include widespread poverty, youth restiveness, high rate of social vices and increased crime wave. Furthermore, if the unemployment problem is not addressed, apathy, hopelessness, and revolution might be imminent. From the foregoing, there is the need for urgent intervention in the sensitive sectors of the economy such as power, industry, and agriculture in order to create employment opportunities.


Unemployment is a situation in which persons capable and willing to work are unable to find suitable paid employment. As defined by International Labour Organisation (2007), unemployed workers are those who are currently not working but are willing and able to work for pay, currently available to work and have actively search for work.

Hence, unemployment occurs when people who are able and willing to work are without jobs, or cannot find work that is effective and productive to do. It also occurs when people undertake jobs that are contrary or lower than their academic qualifications or areas of specialization (under-employment).

Underemployment, which is unemployment in disguise, describes a situation where people are employed only on part time or at work that is ineffective or unproductive, with a correspondingly low income that is insufficient to meet their needs. This is because underemployed persons who are working outside their areas of specialization due to lack of jobs and so, could not be paid commensurately to their qualifications or expertise.

Though unemployment in Nigeria had remained high since the 1980s, available reports and the glaring joblessness in present time indicate that there was no time in Nigeria’s history where unemployment is as serious as now.

Unemployment is a fundamental developmental challenge facing Nigeria. Notwithstanding the fact that the Federal Government over the years has been claiming strong real GDP growth rate of 6% or 6.5% since 2005 till date, unemployment rate continue to rise annually from 11.9% in 2005 to 19.7% in 2009, and over 37% in 2013%. The apparent economic growth has not resulted in job creation and economic development.

Unemployment threatens social stability in many countries including Nigeria. As at 2010, Nigeria’s unemployment rate was 37%, whereas unemployment rate stood at 25.2% and in Ghana was about 14%. Recent statistics by the World Bank has put the unemployment rate in Nigeria at 22 percent, while the youth unemployment rate is 38 percent. This is a sad commentary for a country so blessed with abundant human and natural resources capable of providing employment for the teeming youths in Nigeria.

What are some of the dangers (implications) of high rate of unemployment in Nigeria?

Factors Responsible for the Rising Unemployment in Nigeria

Some of the factors responsible for the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria include the following:

Corruption: Corruption is an abuse of public office for private gain which usually involves embezzlement of public funds, nepotism and falsification of facts and figures, etc. Corruption has prevented Nigeria from making political, social and economic progress and ultimately brought about skyrocketing levels of unemployment in the country. In the labor market today, ‘whom you know’ and ‘how much you can pay determines one’s chances of securing employment, rather than merit. These have denied qualified Nigerians employment.

Neglect of Agricultural Sector: Until early 1970s, agriculture was the major income earning for Nigeria and the largest employer of labour as over 90 percent of the populace worked and earned their daily income from this sector. However, following the rise in the oil boom of 1970s, and the attendance huge foreign income, the agricultural sector became neglected. There seem to be a strong relationship between the neglect of agricultural sector and skyrocketing level of unemployment in Nigeria. Agriculture remains a panacea for reducing the high rate of unemployment and poverty in Nigeria.

Infrastructural Decay: Poor state of infrastructure such as electricity has done an incalculable harm to all facets of the Nigerian economy. According to reports from the United Nation Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), over 170 textile companies have closed shop and 120,000 employees are rendered jobless on account of poor power and water supply, high cost of fuel and massive smuggling of counterfeit products into the country from Asia.

Systemic Problems in Schooling: Most people blamed the falling standard of education in the country for the rising unemployment in Nigeria. The curriculum has not been planned to meet the needs of the present society and in most cases there are poor facilities with which to train the students. Thus, the nation’s schooling system lays much emphasis on certificate acquisition while neglecting the application of the knowledge and skills acquired to meet the challenges of the contemporary Nigeria.

Dangers of Unemployment in Nigeria

The adverse effects of high unemployment rate in Nigeria are enormous and far-reaching. These include social, economic and political dangers.

1. The Social Dangers Associated with Unemployment:

The social dangers (implications) of unemployment are first felt by the individual and household before extending to the entire society. Unemployed individuals are usually unable to earn money to meet financial responsibilities and the basic needs of life.

The effects of unemployment on the individual and household include; wide-spread poverty and inequality with its attendance consequences which manifests as follows; high susceptibility to malnutrition, illness and mental stress; subsequent loss of self-esteem leading to depression; self destructive behaviour used as coping mechanism e.g. excessive alcoholism, drug abuse, etc; dysfunctional social and emotional relationships; loss of self-confidence; loss of social and economic security; limited educational opportunity for the children; limited access to good housing; tension and conflict e.g. domestic violence.

At the society level, unemployment brings about widespread criminality, societal ills and social vices such as hooliganism, armed robbery and prostitution. In most cases, young graduates who are caught in criminal acts such as armed robbery, kidnapping and prostitution attribute their involvement in those crimes to the unemployment situation in Nigeria.

In recent times, the high rate of communal crisis, youth restiveness, hire killings and assassinations, kidnapping, vandalism,419 and other forms of criminality and even the Niger Delta uprising and the recent ‘Boko Haram’ insurgents in the northern part of the country were attributed to the high rate of unemployment, especially among the youths in the country.

2. Economic Dangers Associated with Unemployment:

Any economy with high unemployment rate is not utilizing all of the resources, specifically its labour. Since it is operating below its production possibility, it could have higher output if the entire workforce were utilized.

Furthermore, during a long period of unemployment, workers can also lose their skills, causing a loss of human capital. It could also lead to low level of income and high rate of income inequality which further worsens the high rate of poverty and unemployment with is attendance consequences.

3. Political Implications of Unemployment:

Some of the major consequences of high unemployment in a country like Nigeria with wide spread corruption and bad governance, is increase apathy, cynicism and despondency. Many people become increasingly individualistic and exclusively preoccupied with the problem of survival and subsistence. They show little or no concern for government issues, activities and policies and programs.

High unemployment has been blamed for civil unrest in Nigeria. A classic example is the Niger Delta crisis as well as the Boko Haram crisis in the Northern part of the country.

Indeed, the high rate of kidnapping, civil unrest and political thuggery can be traced to the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Conclusion: Our analysis showed that corruption, lack of good governance, inadequate infrastructural facilities, lack of human capacity development, ineffective schooling system, neglect of agriculture, etc. were responsible for the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria. We also examined the social, economic and political dangers involved when unemployment rate is high.

We recommend the followings:

1. There is the need for stakeholders to ensure provision of adequate power supply as this is one of the most sensitive and essential sectors of the nation’s economy. This is because adequate power supply ensures a productive economy that is capable of creating significant employment to local artisans, cottage and manufacturing industries. This would create an enabling environment for Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) to survive and grow.

2. There is the need to give proper attention to agricultural sector.

3. There is the need to provide functional education to our children. Students should have acquired the basic skills needed for self-reliance before leaving from secondary schools.


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