Professor Festus Iyayi of the University of Benin has warned that the stability of Nigeria will be threatened if the problem of youth unemployment is not tackled seriously.
He identified corruption as one of the causes of unemployment in the land, suggesting that stiffer punishments including death penalty should be recommended for those found guilty of corrupt practices, particularly those who had been trusted with public office.
Iyayi spoke at the International Conference on Emerging Democracies in Africa, Challenges and Opportunities on Tuesday in Abuja, which was organised by the National Institute of Legislative Studies.
He noted that a large segment of the population, which is dominated by young persons, was idle, accounting for the various youth restiveness and other social problems in the society.
He said, “The phenomenon of Boko Haram in Nigeria has also been linked to the massive poverty and high rates of youth unemployment in North Eastern Nigeria.
“Youth unemployment becomes even more dangerous when line, now, children of middle class families (the priests of society) also begin to experience high rates of unemployment.
“High levels of youth unemployment can become a significant factor in shaping orientations about the legitimacy of the state: it can this feature in evaluations of regime failure and decisions of regime change. In effect, high levels of youth unemployment pose dangers for the stability of the extant social order.”
Iyayi argued that youth unemployment could lead to frustration and under certain circumstances, feed into violence, noting that such violence might take the form of “insurgency, riots, armed robbery, murder, kidnapping, cultism, suicide, rape, destruction of property, etc.”
Relying on the UN 2013 World Population Prospects, Iyayi said that by 2050, Nigeria’s population is expected to surpass that of the United States and by the end of the century, Nigeria could be the world’s third most populous county with a population of 914million.
“If current labour trends continue and labour market growth continues to consistently outstrip employment growth, then the implications are obvious: the bomb will detonate!” he said.