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Need for national job creation policy (1)

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unemploymentTHE New Deal was a series of domestic programs enacted in the United States in the early to mid-1930s. They included both laws passed by Congress as well as presidential executive orders during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The programs were in response to the Great Depression, and they focused primarily on what historians call the “3 Rs”: Relief, Recovery, and Reform. That is Relief for the unemployed and poor; Recovery of the economy to normal levels; and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression.

The current state of the Nigerian economy with rising inflation, increasing debt profile, fluctuating prices in crude oil, reduction in our foreign reserves, unstable and rising foreign exchange, and rising unemployment in the double digits, calls for nothing less than the adoption of a New Deal by the President elect.

The problem of unemployment in Nigeria is becoming a national security threat. This problem is further compounded because since independence in 1960, Nigeria has operated several employment generation and training programs, but we have never adopted a specific Job creation policy comparable with other developing countries like Nigeria.

Bangladesh, Indonesia and Singapore, with little or no natural resources, faced with similar employment crises in the 90s, invested in the garment and fabrics industry which today accounts for over 45% youth employment.

The Cubans in similar manner in the 70s invested in what is today termed the Cuban Internationalism which accounts for a large percentage of their foreign exchange today.

The Japanese with no natural resources trained their young men in technology which today sustains their economy, similar stories with Switzerland, Germany and even Taiwan. Over 50 years after independence, Nigeria is still sustained from natural resources, grossly mismanaged at the detriment of our future generations.

The number of young people graduating from our educational system and joining the pool of job seekers is rising so fast that without a National Job creation policy, executed to the letter, pursued with a passion, and promoted with a triple throng zeal to catch up with the rest of world in terms of international labor mobility, then job creation in Nigeria would remain a mirage or at best, a mere campaign promise.

Below, I attempted to answer the question why, and also proffered options and methods to catch up with international labor mobility and create an employment generation framework for our future generations. President elect Muhammadu Buhari to keep to his campaign promise must adapt a more radical approach to meet the global trends in job creation.

In this piece, I would suggest, the development of agro export promotion, Business process offerings commonly called BPOs and garment factories as the way out to address unemployment once and for all in Nigeria.

AGOA and Job Creation:
The U.S. Government established African growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2000 to provide duty and quota free markets for goods from sub-Saharan African countries exported into the U.S., yet Nigeria is yet to maximize these opportunities.

This project has the capacity to drastically create massive employment in Nigeria if properly implemented, however, like every other project in Nigeria, it is rapidly becoming a failed project.

Director-General, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) Dr John Osemede recently opined, that “During the era of Cocoa cooperatives, Osemede further argues “Cocoa laboratory was in Lagos, cocoa laboratory was in Akure, but today those things are not there, even the labs and all that we have here are only certified for import; that is why we are now working for other people.” Osemede continues, “We are the number one producer of cassava in the world, why are we importing starch? We were producing 27 per cent of the world’s total palm oil requirement in the first republic, today we produce 1 per cent of the world requirement.”

Osemede said that Nigeria would benefit more from AGOA if the programme was expanded to include more agricultural products for which Nigeria had comparative advantage”.

•Odidi is a United States-based project management consultant. (PRINCEWILLODIDI@YAHOO.COM).


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