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The explosion of unemployment

By Editorial Board
12 April 2021   |   4:10 am
Easily, the pervasive criminality in the country is a manifestation of high unemployment situation in the country. Even if the kidnapping and banditry are politically motivated, as is postulated in some quarters,...

Unemployment. Photo/VON

Easily, the pervasive criminality in the country is a manifestation of high unemployment situation in the country. Even if the kidnapping and banditry are politically motivated, as is postulated in some quarters, the inability of the country to engage a large proportion of her youth meaningfully surely is laced with potential for social dislocation. The country does not need an expert to know that the time bomb that the nation had sat on for the past 30 years or more, by not providing jobs for her teeming population, has now started to explode.

According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s unemployment rate worsened last quarter, rising from 27.1 per cent in the second quarter to 33.3 per cent. This translates to a percentage point increase of 5.2. It said 23.2 million of 69.7 million Nigerians in the labour market are jobless. The figures were contained in the Labour Force Statistics: Unemployment and Underemployment Report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The document showed: “The number of persons in the labour force (that is, people within ages 15-64, who are able and willing to work) was estimated to be 69,675,468. This was 13.22 per cent less than the number of persons in Q2, 2020. Of this number, those within the age bracket of 25-34 were highest, with 20,091,695 or 28.34 per cent of the labour force.” This is the estimated number of persons within the economically-active population or working population that are available and willing to work. This implies that as of Q4 2020, only 57.09 per cent of Nigeria’s economically-active population is in the labour force.

The data shows that unemployment was worst among youth of between 24 and 35 years where 7.5 million or 37 per cent of the number of the demographic group in the labour market were jobless.  

Given the awful unemployment situation, government should be worried, but so far they have not given a clear indication of that concern. However, the average Nigerians who are bearing the brunt are stretched to their limits, and are far from being impressed with official rhetoric about job creation. In particular, Nigerians bear the consequences of unemployment in Nigeria which include reduction in the national output of goods and services, increased rural-urban migration, high level of poverty in Nigeria, increase in the number of dependent people, and high rate of crimes.

Causes of unemployment in Nigeria vary from decline in the country’s economy which saw many people laid off, while new jobs were not created. Even before COVID-19, the Nigerian environment, afflicted with insecurity, high cost of doing business, multiple taxation and epileptic power supply, has been largely unattractive to investment.

In addition, the Federal Government threatened the other day to sanction firms not employing Nigerian graduates, but instead using expatriates for jobs that could be performed by locals, much against the country’s laws. Government had through the Special Ministerial Taskforce on Monitoring and Enforcement of Nigerian Expatriate Business Permit and Expatriate Quota Administration, under the chairmanship of Mr. Bola Ilori, observed that some foreign companies are not sincere as they sought only to renew the permits of their expatriates at the detriment of Nigerians and giving spurious excuses. This also adds to the unemployment saga. Many expatriate companies are thereby sabotaging government in tackling the unemployment situation.

The country is certainly facing a grave situation, which requires urgent attention to fix the underlying causes that also include poor quality education resulting in ill-equipped graduates, absence of technical skills and low self-employment culture, among others. Unfortunately, agriculture, an area that can engage a good number of jobless persons have been sidelined; and more recently threatened by killer herdsmen incursion into farmlands across the country. At the same time, micro employment, at personal and family levels, is not receiving adequate official complement. Even when agricultural products are available, there is little or no value-chain addition. Yet, the country is blessed with abundant arable land as well as unutilised natural resources that could employ millions of people if exploited.

Electricity is critical for jobs creation, both at micro and macro levels. There is need to make provision for graduates’ engagement as they are churned out of tertiary institutions yearly. Above all, the country needs foresighted leadership to organise the system into functionality.

A serious employment scheme by government must be holistic, addressing simultaneously the necessity to provide critical infrastructure and industrial friendly environment as well as attracting private investors. Agriculture should be accorded its deserved priority to create new job opportunities; while improvement of energy supply and transport system will cut the high cost of production. Concerted efforts must be made to discourage jobs cut and to reform education by aligning it to job creation.

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