Economics, News, Opinion

Economic Insecurity And Rising Unemployment –  Nigeria’s Ticking Time Bomb

Abdulrahman Oyedeni


June 17, 2023


Nigeria, a vibrant African country characterised by its youthful population, rich cultural heritage, and abundance of natural resources, is currently grappling with a challenging socioeconomic issue – the escalating rate of unemployment. As the country navigates the complexities of the 21st century global economy, it faces the critical task of promoting sustainable economic growth, fostering job creation, and ensuring the economic security of its teeming population.

Economic Landscape and Unemployment Trends

Nigeria’s economy, the largest in Africa, is characterised by its significant dependence on oil revenues. The oil sector contributes approximately 9% to the country’s GDP, but accounts for over 90% of its export earnings and about 60% of government revenues. This over-reliance on oil exposes the Nigerian economy to global oil price volatility, creating an economic environment prone to booms and busts, consequently affecting employment rates.

According to Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the country’s unemployment rate stood at 33.3% as of the end of 2022, translating to over 23 million unemployed Nigerians in a labor force of about 70 million. This is arguably one of the highest unemployment rates globally and an indication of the country’s profound economic challenges.

Impacts of Rising Unemployment

The alarming rate of unemployment in Nigeria, especially among the youth, is a major contributor to the country’s myriad social problems, including rising crime rates, drug abuse, depression, and suicide. It also fuels the growing incidences of violent extremism and banditry, particularly in the northeastern and northwestern regions of the country.

Furthermore, unemployment undermines social cohesion and threatens national security. It perpetuates poverty and inequality, thus widening the social class gap and exacerbating social tensions. The wave of anti-government protests in recent years, such as the EndSARS movement in 2020, can be traced in part to dissatisfaction and frustration stemming from economic hardship and joblessness.

Road to Resolution: Addressing Unemployment in Nigeria

Addressing Nigeria’s unemployment challenge requires a multi-faceted and concerted approach. Diversifying the economy away from oil is imperative. While the government has implemented various diversification strategies, efforts must be intensified. Sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and information and communication technology (ICT) have the potential to create a significant number of jobs and should be prioritised.

There is also a need to improve the quality of education and tailor it towards the needs of the modern job market. Emphasis should be placed on technical and vocational education and training (TVET), digital literacy, entrepreneurship, and other skills that enhance employability.

Moreover, addressing structural and institutional issues such as corruption and policy inconsistency is critical. For instance, the ease of doing business in Nigeria remains a concern for many investors. The government must therefore create an enabling business environment that encourages domestic and foreign investments, thereby facilitating job creation.

In conclusion, tackling the rising unemployment in Nigeria is a task that requires the commitment of all stakeholders – the government, private sector, civil society, and international partners. By addressing the root causes of unemployment and implementing sustainable solutions, Nigeria can turn this ticking time bomb into a demographic dividend, thereby securing a prosperous future for its populace.


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  • 5. “Nigeria 2023: Ease of Doing Business Report.” World Bank. Retrieved from:
  • 6. “Nigeria’s population and its economic growth: A positive relationship?” Brookings Institution. Retrieved from:

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