By Dr. Aliyu D. Muhammad
This is a little bit challenging topic as it affects millions of Nigerians but understanding its dimensions will go a long way in solving the menace of unemployment and its attending consequences. When a periodic census data is gathered on unemployment and you have not reported yourself being unemployed, the assumption is that you have secured a job. In other words, unemployment refers to a situation whereby individuals who are employable and actively seeking for jobs could not find one. The employment could be in formal sectors (both public and private) or in informal sector like self-employed entrepreneurs, merchants and artisans. The country`s statistics of unemployment stands at 33.3 per cent as at fourth quarter of 2020 with less than half of almost 70 million labour force fully employed and a third of the figure either did nothing or work less than 20 hours a week, thus declaring them as unemployed. ‘According to the Bloomberg, “Nigeria’s jobless rate has more than quadrupled over the last five years as the economy went through two recessions, casting a shadow over the efforts to implement policies to drive growth and create jobs by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.” With slow pace of recovery rate of 1.5 per cent, according to the IMF, output will only recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
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Now, the question is what would be the solution to this growing doom prediction? Actually, the solution must be pragmatic. There are contradicting policies carried out by the government e.g inflation control, exchange rate policy; unemployment and trade policies though some predictions are guided by the policies of those who make them. I divide them further into macro and micro solutions and Islamic perspective.
From the Macro perspective, the government must sustain its efforts in providing job opportunities to the youths and unemployed at various levels. The government must also ensure the stability of electricity as millions of Nigerians are industrious and once such energy supply increases it will boost the local economy and provide opportunities directly and indirectly. Some trade policies need to be revisited to allow for more export and reduce imports. Currency exchange policy is critical when it comes to securing value of labour in the economy. Otherwise, all your efforts in producing goods and services would be translated into few cents and dollars (pity).
Micro, economically speaking, is the individual’s responsibility to show case what one can offer to the market. Thus, one has to prepare oneself or one’s family to face the challenge of competition in the labour market. Education increases earning as confirmed by several microeconomic studies. The higher the level of education of an individual, the higher the level of his/her earnings, all other things being equal even though, that does not mean an educated person must earn higher than the less educated one.
Skills and training: these are very prompt responses to the need of time. The worker may not have time to go back to school to learn new things, but through training and skills acquisition, one can, within short period acquire what would otherwise take longer time. Constant search and endurance also plays a great role in this situation.
From the Islamic perspective, all the above can be considered as part of knowledge, which is general in all religions. But in addition to that, if you are looking for a job, what quality you need to have so as to sail through: In Surat Qasas, Allah has mentioned the two qualities an employable person should have before he is considered for a job. Allah says :‘One of the two women said, ‘O my father, hire him; for the best man that thou can hire is the one who is strong and trustworthy.’ (Surah Al-Qasas :Verse 26). This is the case when Prophet Musa A.S exhibited strength and trust when he assisted the two ladies in fetching water from the well. In another verse, when Prophet Solomon A.S did survey his entourage and did not see Hudahuda he inquired about him. When he came back he said “I have encompassed [in knowledge] that which you have not encompassed and I have come to you from Sheba with certain news” Prophet Solomon verified the news and confirmed it was true. Then he said, “[Solomon] said, “O assembly [of jinn], which of you will bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?” A powerful one from among the jinn said, “I will bring it to you before you rise from your place, and indeed, I am for this [task] strong and trustworthy.” Said one, who had knowledge from the Scripture, “I will bring it to you before your glance returns to you.” And when [Solomon] saw it placed before him, he said, “This is from the favour of my Lord to test me whether I will be grateful or ungrateful. And whoever is grateful – his gratitude is only for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever is ungrateful – then indeed, my Lord is free of need and generous. Similarly, the Prophet S.A.W was called Al-Amin by the people of Makkah because of his trustworthiness. From this series of verses and lessons we can deduce the followings:
Knowledge and skills are very important in securing jobs and maintaining it. For every knowledgeable person, there is another person who is more knowledgeable as in the case of the powerful Jinn who promised to bring the throne before Solomon rises from his place and one who had knowledge from the scripture and promised to bring it before Solomon`s glance returns to him. Trust and trustworthy person has no substitute. Thus, if an employer does not find a trustworthy person, he will never succeed. And for that reason, he may not make his capital available to anybody due to fear of mistrust. Whoever wants to employ a person must check these qualities. An individual must be able to demonstrate reasonable level of trust wherever he finds himself. That may lead to many goodies in the near future.
We are duty bound to raise our competency level always so that we can deliver beyond expectation. If you are a graduate, don’t think you have reached the limit of learning, which does not exist. If you are an employer, assist your staff to raise their competency level by participating in an on the job training. Absence of trust is the beginning of all evils. Be it in family, in business, in leadership or governance. We pray to Allah to salvage Nigeria and its people from distrust, lack of competencies in business, leadership and in all we do.
Muhammad lectures at Bayero University Kano