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This thesis investigates the relationship between youth unemployment and insecurities in Port Harcourt, in Rivers State of Nigeria. The youth of Nigeria live in a precarious state characterized by limited access to education, abject poverty and inadequate economic opportunities; they constitute over 70% of the country’s population. Unfortunately, the country’s independence in 2011 did not change the situation as many young lives are spent in violence and illegal activities that create a security challenge. Hence, in such a historically volatile environment where causes of violence are always changing, it is important to explore and understand the different elements that cause violence and insecurities in the country.

The research used the survey method of data collection. Out of 100 respondents selected for the interview, only 97 completed the questionnaires. The study also relied on secondary data sources that included the University library, academic journals, previously published theses and internet. For data analysis, the research study used tables, pie-charts and bar charts. The research findings revealed that there is a significant relationship between youth unemployment and insecurities in Port Harcourt, thus there should be sustained effort by the Government of Nigeria to address the issue of youth unemployment as a growing challenge in Rivers and nationwide. The study recommends further research on the role of youth in post-conflict reconstruction and development in Nigeria.

Key words: youth, unemployment, Greater West Africa, insecurities, security, Port Harcourt.




1.1   Background Information

Youth unemployment in Nigeria continues to threaten peace and security in the country. According to Nigeria Baseline Household Survey in 2009, unemployment has led to lack of inclusive growth and reduced absorption and participation of youth in the labor market. A survey by the Overseas Development Institute (2011) asserts that insecurities in Nigeria is caused by frustration as a result of unemployment and lack of regular salaries for people working with the government. In addition, the Survey points that lack of job opportunities for urban youth is a leading cause of increased cases of gang activity in the capital Rivers.

According to Trading Economics (2015), Nigeria unemployment rate remains unchanged at 12 percent since 2008. Unemployment remains a major concern in the country particularly affecting several school leavers and employable adults who find it difficult to secure jobs despite the abundant resource in the country. Furthermore, unemployment among the youth is perceived as one of the key ingredients that influence Nigerians youth to join rebel movements and militia. Similarly, a report by the African Economic Outlook (2012) argues that idle youth in Nigeria are a potential threat to themselves and their environments. The report emphasizes a number of factors that limit youth absorption into the labor market such as: insufficient labor demands; incoherent government policy; lack of sound legal and regulatory framework and absence of vocational and educational opportunities which generally create long- term unemployment, social exclusion and marginalization particularly in urban areas where a person’s social status is associated with his/her career. The African Economic Outlook further adds that youth marginalization and exclusion from the labour market can cause frustration and desperation that eventually incite youth to become violent and unresponsive hence causing insecurities.

In a report on Nigeria Crime and Safety (2015), the United Nations states that widespread crime and insecurities in Nigeria is caused by many factors that include ethnic violence, political unrest and economic privation such as unemployment that result to extortions at gun points and violent crimes by many of the unemployed. The UN report further reveals that due to the country’s legacy of civil war, the population had easy access and knowledge of weapons. It is common to hear the sounds of gunfire particularly at night. Nonetheless, crime threats and violent crimes such as murder, armed robbery, burglary and non-violent thefts are pervasive. On the other hand, outside Rivers, road ambushes and banditry are fairly common and often involve violence. However such crimes mostly affect the local population living in the outskirts of the City. As of today it is not surprising that no area Rivers is immune to crime and often neighborhoods where wealthy government leaders, business professionals, Non- Governmental Organization staff, and foreign diplomats are particularly targeted by criminals. (UN crime and Safety report, 2015)

In the face of such security challenges, Nigeria is sending a negative signal to the international community that it is not a safe place to live in, particularly at this time when the country needs external investors and expatriates to help boost its economy. It is crucial for the country to be safe in order to attract potential investors. Nonetheless, lack of security is a risk factor for investors world-wide because it sends warning signals to take their investible funds to another country where there is adequate or a fair of security.

1.2   Statement of Research Problem

Barely one year after its independence in 2011, Nigeria began to experience several security challenges as a consequence of poverty, poor governance, weak institutions and harsh economic conditions, characterized by cattle raids, ethnic-violence; intra-governmental armed conflict and widespread violent crimes. Nonetheless, unemployment in the country, particularly among the youth has been identified as one of the prime factors affecting security. The economically active young cohort constitutes more than 70% of the total population in Nigeria, yet they struggle under the saddle of lack of education, inadequate marketable skills and limited work opportunities. The latter in particular has contributed to youth participation in violent crimes, in addition to being key targets for politicians who seek foot soldiers to fight for their political struggles.

According to Madut (2013), increase in youth unemployment in Nigeria compounded by poverty, frustration, despair and the lack of commitment by the government to address the plight of the youth has influenced many into violence and crime. In 2013, political rivalry within the ruling party culminated in armed conflict that left thousands dead and many internally displaced. Today, there is no person or place that is totally secure in the country- many people are forced to flee to neighboring countries for lack of security. This research intends to investigate the relation between youth unemployment and insecurities in Nigeria, a case- study of Port Harcourt which is one of the largest neighborhoods in Rivers State that is affected by violent crimes and insecurities.


1.3  Significance of the Study

Nigeria is one of the world’s youngest nations and with over 70 percent of its population under the age of 30 implies that youth are now more than ever at the center of the nation’s struggle for peace and development. However, this has not been the case as many Nigerians youth continue to face many challenges. First they are predisposed to early hardship from childhood, inability to complete education due to poverty, and unfavorable socio-economic conditions. Many youth end up in a more distressing situation of joblessness. Thus as a young Nigerians scholar, I believe that it is important to examine the challenges facing the youth particularly at this time when the country needs their contribution. This study is my opportunity to not only put emphasis on the problem of youth unemployment, but also the security threat it poses to Nigeria.

Additionally, the study is relevant in identifying and analyzing the component of youth unemployment and national security in Nigeria. The study is also important in emphasizing the need for policies and strategies to address youth unemployment in Nigeria. As a matter of fact if youth unemployment and disenfranchisement are not addressed, then Nigeria is likely to continue facing a toxic cycle of insecurities and poverty that will continue to undermine its social and economic development.

1.4  Objectives of the study

  • General Objective

The main objective of the study is to empirically investigate the impact of unemployment on insecurities.


Specific Objectives


Specifically, the research study seeks:

  1. To examine the correlation between youth unemployment and insecurities in Port Harcourt Rivers State in Nigeria;
  2. To find out if there is an employment policy for youth in Nigeria;
  3. To contribute to future youth employment


1.5  Research Questions

The research study will answer the following question:

  • How is youth unemployment linked to insecurities in Port Harcourt?

1.6  Research Hypothesis

The research hypothesizes that there is a significant relationship between youth unemployment and insecurities in Port Harcourt. In recent years, young people in Nigeria have been at the center stage of violent crimes across the country including gangs, armed militia, cattle raids and other social mischief. Although a large body of literature on insecurities in Nigeria exists, there are a few that actually analyze the component of youth unemployment.

Several scholarly writings and publications on conflict and insecurities in Nigeria tend to focus on general causes of insecurities such as extreme poverty, illiteracy, corruption, ethnicity economic disparity, and underdevelopment (Zambakari, 2013; Nyamilepdia, 2014; Madut, 2013). However, this study focuses specifically on the correlation between youth unemployment and insecurities in Nigeria.


  • Limitation of the study

Financial Constraint was one of the limitations found in the study, initially, survey was based on administering 200 questionnaires to the target population. However, due to inadequacy of funds needed to prepare, print and translate questionnaires into the common dialect, the number of questionnaires was reduced to 100. Also, there was the issue of economic crisis in Nigeria and increase in prices of goods and services, high standard of living, thus the research budget was affected.

Furthermore, there are waves of insecurities in the country following the December 2013 intra-governmental fighting between the Government of Nigeria and the rebels led by former Vice President Riek Machar. The country’s security remains uncertain. There was fear and uncertainty of being arrested by security agents since the research tackles insecurities. However, to resolve the issue, an authorization letter issued by the University was presented to the informants stating the purpose of the research study in details.

The research was also limited by time. There was a delay in completion and return of the questionnaires by the respondents as per the agreed deadline. Many of the respondents explained that due to the busy nature of their jobs, they could not meet the deadline set to return the questionnaires. This eventually led to a delay in data processing and analysis.

  • Operational Definition of Terms

Youth: According to the United Nations, youth refers to persons between the age of 15 and 24 years old (United Nations, 2007). Albeit the UN definition is globally acceptable, many countries and communities tend to differ in their operational definitions of youth and so is the demographic, political, institutional, and cultural element in it. In Uganda for instance, youth are

persons between 12-30 years; 18-35 in Nigeria and Bangladesh (ILO, 2005) and 18-35 years in Nigeria and 14–28 years in the United Kingdom. However, Sociologists define youth as the transition from childhood to adulthood; in which case the age at which the transition begins tend to vary greatly between societies.

Unemployment: This is a state in which a person does not have a job but is actively seeking one. Hence, in order to qualify as unemployed for official and statistical measurements, the individual must be without employment, but willing and able to work. According to the International Labor Organization, unemployment constitute the following: people who are out of work; want a job; have actively sought work in the previous four weeks and are available to start work within the next fortnight; or out of work and have accepted a job that they are waiting to start in the next fortnight.

Youth Bulge: The youth bulge is a common phenomenon in many developing countries particularly in the least developed countries. It is often due to a stage of development where a country achieves success in reducing infant mortality but mothers still have a high fertility rate. The result is that a large share of the population is comprised of children and young adults (Justin Lin, 2012).

Insecurities: Insecurities is the state of being open to danger or threats caused by the absence of protection.

Employment: This refers to the relationship between two parties, based on a contract where one is paid for, where one is described as the employer and the other the employee.

Gross attendance rate in Primary School (GER) is defined as the number of students attending primary school (Grade 1-8) regardless of age, as a proportion of population in primary school going age (6-13 years).

Gross attendance rate in Secondary School (GER) refers to the number of students attending secondary school (Grade 9-12) regardless of age, as a proportion of population in secondary school going age (14-16 year).

Net attendance rate in Primary school (NER) is children in primary school going age (6-13 years) attending primary school (grade 1-8) as proportion of children in primary school going age (6-13).

Net attendance rate in Secondary School (NER) is the number of students in secondary school going ages (14-16) years old attending secondary school (grade S1-S3) as proportion of all children in secondary school going age (14-16).


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