One of the critical challenges facing Nigeria’s economic development at the moment is the rising unemployment. Available reports from a variety of sources and the glaring evidence of joblessness in all the states of the federation indicate that there is no time in Nigeria’s tartan history that unemployment has been as serious as it is now.
Unemployment according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is among the biggest threats to social stability in many countries including Nigeria, putting the global rate at 12.6% (ILO, 2012). When compared with her counterparts in the continent, Nigeria’s unemployment crisis is more serious. For instance, South Africa’s unemployment rate is currently standing at about 22%, and in Ghana is about 14% in 2010,
Several reports put Nigeria’s unemployment rate at about 24 percent; and 60 per cent of the country’s population are youths, translating to about 80 million Nigeria youths. Youth unemployment rate is over 50 percent; about 64 million Nigeria youths are unemployed. To think that there are 64 million able body human beings without means of any livelihood is mind boggling. For a nation without any social programs – welfare or unemployment stipend, these 64 million Nigerians live each day looking to survive by all means necessary including involvements in violent criminal acts that constantly threaten the security of the populace.
This situation is pathetic considering the fact that the country is blessed with a lot of human and natural resources capable of providing employment for the teeming youths in Nigeria. As noted by the World Bank report, that the youth holds the key to achieving the Vision 20: 2020.
It is in this regard that the latest job creation figure released by the National Bureau of Statistics, (NBS), yesterday which showed that the economy created 500,224 jobs across the country in the first six months of 2014 was accepted with mixed feelings.
According to the Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr. Yemi Kale, at a workshop organised by the NBS for the review of definition and methodology for computing unemployment statistics in Nigeria; the new figure was arrived at through a recent job creation survey carried out by the NBS for the first and second quarters of 2014. The scope of the survey covered formal and informal establishments and public institutions in the country.
The report showed that in the Q1 of 2014, the formal sector recorded 76.018 new jobs; informal recorded 158,894 new jobs, while the public sector recorded 5,959 new jobs. The total new jobs for Q1 of 2014 was 240,871, representing a decrease by 10.3 per cent from the previous Q, which recorded 265,702 jobs and lower than the 431,021 jobs created in the corresponding Q in 2013.
We acknowledge that the President Goodluck Jonathan led government recognizes the enormous unemployment problem and has called on economic experts in Nigeria to develop approaches that will fast-track Nigeria towards overcoming unemployment.
But, one cannot really conclude that the government at one level or the other have done anything significant to reduce unemployment in Nigeria. The creation of National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and its skills acquisition programmes, NAPEP, PAP, the SURE-P,YOUWIN, just to mention a few, are some of the various intervention mechanisms aimed at ensuring economic growth that is rich with job creation opportunities which have performed below expectation.
The number of jobs created within the first half of the year is encouraging and gives hope to the unemployed, however, efforts will need to be multiplied if unemployment is to be drastically reduced. Hence, conscious effort must be directed at creating an environment that will encourage and sustain private sector manufacturing and entrepreneurship, while investing heavily on infrastructural projects such as power, roads, airports and seaports.