Children learn to keep the wolf from the door

The unemployment rate in Nigeria has risen to 33.3%, up from 27.1% in the second quarter of 2020, according to a report published by the National Bureau of Statistics.

A survey conducted by the organisation showed that the 69.7-million labour force either did not work or worked for less than 20 hours a week, making them unemployed, and 15.9-million worked less than 40 hours a week, making them underemployed.

Now desperate and indigent parents have started sending their children out to learn entrepreneurial skills – teaching them to become tailors, barbers, painters and even mechanics − so that they can feed their families.

Malam Isa, a father of two who lives in Maiduguri, told RNI reporter Hadiza Dawood that, because of the high unemployment rate, mothers and fathers were willingly sending their children to learn entrepreneurial skills.

“They send them to learn how to become tailors, barbers and painters, even mechanics. The little money the children earn is used to feed the family because the parents are unemployed and cannot provide essentials,” he said.

Adamu Muhamed, a tailor in Hausari, who sews clothes for women and girls, said the number of apprentices had increased substantially.

But, he said, many of the apprentices did not concentrate sufficiently on learning the skills and they were more interested in what they would be paid.

“Many parents are old and they do not have the means to provide for their families. That is why they send their children out to learn skills. Because of the lack of employment in the country they hope their children will become entrepreneurs and self-employed,” Muhamed said.

Even a university degree or diploma did not guarantee a job in Nigeria, he said, claiming that the rich “buy jobs for their children”. If a poor person did the same, there was a chance that during the verification procedure, he would be caught and fired.

He said he had six apprentices under him and he was contented with the money he made from being a tailor. “I am getting married soon and I will be able to look after my wife.”

He urged the youth to become self-employed.

Khalid Mohammed, a student of Mafoni Secondary School and an apprentice, said he wanted to become a tailor so that he could help his parents because they were poor. “I am learning how to sew clothes for women and girls. I don’t want to finish school and become jobless,” he said.

Meanwhile, Khalifa Dikwa, Dean of the Borno Elders’ Forum, told RNI reporter Amina Abbagana that was was difficult for the majority of young people to find work.

He said the idiom, “the devil finds work for idle hands”, was true and that employment opportunities and mechanisms to train young people to be self-reliant had to introduced as a matter of urgency.

Unemployment, hunger, inequality, corruption and illiteracy all added to the vicious poverty cycle, Dikwa said.

Unemployed youths could be easily persuaded to join unsavoury groups or turn to illegal activities because they had nothing better to do. This would add to the insecurity already prevalent in the country, he said.

Dikwa said more than 80% of Nigeria’s population lived below the poverty line. Projections showed that it was likely that by 2030 more than 80-million young people would be unemployed.


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