Youth unemployment in Nigeria has been a worrisome trend in recent times. The government has initiated quite a several initiatives towards addressing this challenge.
However, there seems to be a current trend in addressing the unemployment challenge in the country, and it is coming from unlikely places.
The Nigerian Army in recent times has provided that platform where Nigerians from all walks of life have expressed considerable interest in being a part of the national development of the country.
The Nigerian Army of today has been transformed into a force to reckon with in addressing the various security challenges in the country. These feats have endeared it to most Nigerians that quake at the opportunity to be a part of the success story of the Nigerian Army during its various recruitment processes. This is despite the insinuations in certain quarters that officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army are disillusioned and leaving the force in droves.
Investigations indicate that the reverse is the case as the various recruitment process of the Nigerian Army has been oversubscribed to the extent that some scholars have attributed the interest in the Nigerian Army to a couple of factors which includes but not limited to improved welfare, professionalism and accountability and transparency.
According to insider sources, in the history of the Nigerian Army there hasn’t been a time where the Nigerian Army has witnessed massive recruitment rate as seen in the past five years. They attributed this happening to the leadership strides of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai who since assumption of office has led the Nigerian Army into reclaiming its place as the pride of the nation.
In a recent survey conducted, it was realized that interest in the enlistment into the Nigerian rose astronomically in the last three years. The various indices attributed to it indicated that the Nigerian Army had become a chosen occupation for most young people in Nigeria because of its numerous efforts in addressing the security challenges in the country.
Despite the number of casualty or cases of voluntary disengagement experienced in the Nigerian Army, many Nigerians still see the Nigerian Army as the choice destination. It has been estimated that the enrolment rate into the Nigerian Army rose by 45% for recruits, 40% for Direct Short Service Commission, 35% for Short Service Commission and 65% for direct regular. The stated figure implies that there have been considerable improvements in the condition of service in the Nigerian Army.
In one of the recent interviews conducted for intake into the Nigerian Army, one of the prospective candidates stated that joining the Nigerian Army would be a dream come true because as an army officer, he would give his all in service to fatherland. This indeed sums the sentiment of the bulk of those that that have indicated interest to join the Nigerian Army. It must be stated that the draw-in factor is the transformation witnessed in the Nigerian Army in recent years.
From available findings in the training and doctrine command of the Nigerian Army, it was identified that the Nigerian Army recently introduced training programmes that address some of the psychological challenges experienced by officers and soldiers engaged in its various operations.
A professor of human psychology from the University of Nigeria Nssuka, Dubem Okonkwo stated that what the Nigerian Army has introduced in some of its training programmes is capable of transforming it into one of the best forces in the world.
“There is a need to ensure that the various cadres of the Nigerian Army are geared up for the challenges ahead, especially with the issues associated with asymmetric warfare. We have had issues where some individuals get overwhelmed with their involvement in warfare, and they go berserk. These are normal occurrences, and so far, there hasn’t been any pronounced case in the Nigerian Army.”
The leadership of the Nigerian Army has indeed lived up to expectations through the leadership by example approach example introduced by the Chief of Army Staff, especially in the prosecution of the Boko Haram insurgency. According to Tunde Lawal, a top recruitment expert, he stated that the rush for enlistment into the Nigerian Army is a function of the fact the leadership of the Nigerian Army has made the operations of the Army fashionable and with a human face.
“In situations where you find officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army engaged in CSR initiatives such as conducting medical outreaches, assisting in the relocation of Internally Displaced Persons back to their communities and a host of other charitable ventures sends a very strong message. It says loud that aside tanks and guns, there is also a human face to the Nigerian Army and this on its own is a driver hence the rush for enlistment into the Nigerian Army.”
The Nigerian Army might also have been experiencing a facelift because the Chief of Army Staff has prioritized the welfare and capacity of officers and soldiers to do exploit. And this must also have endeared him to the hearts of young Nigerians that have in recent times indicated serious interest to join the Nigerian Army.
This fact was corroborated by Yemi Sanya, a military historian, who alluded to the fact that the numerous innovations he has introduced in the Nigerian Army since he assumed leadership has caused a turnaround in the fortunes of the Nigerian Army and made it indeed the pride of the nation in line with its slogan.
It is therefore not surprising that the Nigerian Army has become the preferred choice for young Nigerians wishing to contribute their quota to national development. The onus, therefore, rests on the Chief of Army Staff to create that enabling environment for those that have been deemed qualified to be enlisted into the prestigious force to maximize their full potentials. In this case, the issue of low morale and deserting the Nigerian Army does not arise; instead, the reverse is the case.
Charles Obi writes from Lagos.