Youth Participation, Unemployment and Poverty in a Democratic Nigeria: Towards a Policy Response for Sustainable National Security and Economic Development.

Hussainatu Abdullahi, Y.Z. Abdullahi, Yelwa Mohammed


The neglect of human resources is no doubt the most pernicious of waste and social evil whose repercussions not only rebound on the individual, but also the entire society. That there is transcendently presence of entities known as “youth” is a widely accepted norm. Also universally acknowledged is the fact that youths form the bedrock on which the society is anchored, hence leaders of tomorrow. Consequently, any nation who toys with the welfare and development of its youthful population could be said to be jeopardizing its future and survival. Arguably, Africa’s most populous democratic nation, Nigeria is enormously endowed with abundant resources which when properly harnessed could empower the youth for positive contribution to national security and economic development that is sustainable. Paradoxically, majority of the youthful segment of the Nigerian population live below the poverty line due to unemployment, underemployment and even unemployable. It is no longer news that  there is a growing recognition amongst development experts that poverty and its alleviation is best actualized through participation and empowerment of the vulnerable groups by giving them the right and the opportunity for economic choices and self-actualization. Development outcomes to a great extent depend on effective political relations as well as an active and efficient citizenry which can facilitate robust and collective action. This no doubt can result into effective and better targeted public services, social justice, equity, accountability, transparency and good governance. However, the current scenario in Nigeria is such that the magnitude of youth unemployment and lack of participation in the labour market has created related socio-economic crisis, hence national insecurity, a disturbing feature no rational government can turn a blind eye.

Arising from the above, this paper using data elicited from documentary and archival sources discuss youth and its attendant socio-economic problems anchored on the opportunistic attitude of the new political elites, democratic legitimacy, offering insights about the nexus of youth, participation, unemployment, poverty and structures of pathologies of democracy and national security challenges in Nigeria. The paper elucidated on some fundamental questions such as why is Nigeria not serious about the welfare of its youths despite the existence of agencies like the National Directorate of Employment, Ministry of Women and Youth Development? The paper therefore contends that lack of youth participation, their unemployment and poverty are as a result of the character of the Nigerian State that has continued to swim in the ocean of institutionalized corruption, lack of Federal Character and over politicization of national development issues. The paper concludes, among other set of mutually reinforcing practical recommendations to bring about a robust synergy between youth participation, effective and efficient democracy and sustainable national security and economic development. That effort aimed at addressing these issues must first tackle these nascent problems as against usual lip-service mechanism that create avenues for primitive acquisition of public funds, while emphasizing the notion that economic development must not only be inclusive, job-creating and poverty-reducing, but it must also result to self-empowerment that will bring about sustainable national security and sustainable economic development that is broad-based.

Keywords: Youth, Participation, Unemployment, Poverty, Democracy, Sustainable Security And Economic Development.

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