Rentierism and the Affliction of Graduate Unemployment in Africa: Evidence from Nigeria, 1999 – 2012

Okoli, Rowland Chukwuma (2015) Rentierism and the Affliction of Graduate Unemployment in Africa: Evidence from Nigeria, 1999 – 2012. In: INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON “YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IN AFRICA, 26-27-2015, Harare, Zimbabwe.

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Unemployment is a state of joblessness resulting from the commoditization of labour and alienation of the wage labourer from the means of production. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defined unemployed as numbers of the economically active population who are without work but available for and seeking work, including people who have lost their jobs and those who have voluntarily left work (World Bank cited in Anyadike, Emeh & Ukah, 2012). Unemployment is a phenomenon engendered and sustained by the contradictions of capitalism. Thus it is a problem of every society in the contemporary global capitalist economy. Available evidence shows that the problem of unemployment is more pronounced in Africa with the youth being over-represented in the number of unemployed people having a percentage as much as 80 percent in some cases (Ake, 1989). The unemployment situation in Nigeria is alarming, with the rate rising from 13.9% in 2000 to 23.9% in 2012 and youth unemployment standing at 54 percent in 2012 (Sun Newspaper, 2014). Considering that Nigeria is the largest black nation in the world with a population of over 160 million people, it is not inappropriate to describe it as the country with the highest number of unemployed youths in the world. Meanwhile, Nigeria has the 6th largest gas reserves in the world, ranks as the 8th largest oil producer and one of the leading crude oil producers in Africa, accounting (in 2009) for over 3 percent of the entire global production (see Soludo, 2005; BP, 2012; Energy Information Administration (EIA), 2009). Regrettably, this abundant oil resources has neither been utilized to transform the economy nor generate gainful employment for the country’s teeming population, rather the oil wealth has instilled a rent-seeking character that engenders contradictions and lack of organic unity within the productive forces of the country. Under such condition, unemployment becomes uncontrollable. The neglect of infrastructural development and the pursuit of neo-liberal policies by successive regimes are all indications of the rent-seeking character of the state which stifles entrepreneurship and creates an enclave economy where only few Multinational Companies exist in the extractive sector of the economy carrying out exploratory activities which does not create the forward and backward linkages needed for the development of the real sector of the economy which has the potential of employing large number of graduates. In line with this, Nnoli (1993a), Nnoli, (1993b) noted that the path of capitalist development has led Nigeria to a deadend because of the superficiality in policy making which is not built around the local peculiarities of the country. Inthe fourth republic, the New Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) stands out as the major neoliberal economic reform which laid the foundation and provided the framework for most other policies and the reforms of in the country. Although, it has been touted as the end of history (Soludo, 2005), the NEEDS and other economic reforms associated with it have failed to address the fundamental problems of the economy and only reinforces the renteir character of the state. Studies have shown that the dearth of infrastructure in Nigeria and the pursuit of liberal policies creates harsh economic environment that thwarts the growth and survival of industries leading to the exit and collapse of existing industries especially in the real sector of the economy (see Effiom, Ubi and Okon, 2012;George and Oseni, 2012; Okwo and Ugwunta, 2012; Adawo, Essien and Ekpo, 2012; Nnoli, 1993a etc). For instance, the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN) reported that the number of toiletries and cosmetics companies in the country declined from about 155 in year 2000 to less than 25 as at 2012 (Vanguard Newspaper, 2013), similarly, in the brewery industry, the number of brewery firms was reported to have reduced from about thirtythree in the 1990s to only about four in 2012 all due to harsh business environment (Okwo & Ugwunta, 2012). In the light of the above, unemployment has assumed an alarming rate, more worrisome is the increasing percentage of graduates who are unable to find gainful employment after many years of graduation. This study interrogates the implication of rentierism for graduate unemployment between 1999 and 2012. The central thesis of the study is that the rent-seeking character of the Nigerian state stifles entrepreneurship and industrial growth and ipso facto aggravates graduates unemployment.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences
Depositing User: mrs chioma hannah
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2019 09:06
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2019 09:26

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