The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and business communities have denounced recent figures by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) putting the nation’s unemployment rate at 4.1%.
The organised labour argued that the report was a far cry from the situation as it was and warned that the NBS might lose its credibility if it continued to publish similar studies.
According to a senior official of the NLC, NBS merely rebased the employment template to obtain a lower unemployment rate.
“This is not helpful as it may undermine the credibility of NBS’ work in the future,” he told Vanguard.
“The fact is that any statistical data that is not truly representative of the facts on the ground loses its validity.
” We know that the unemployment figure in Nigeria cannot be falling when the reality is that we have factories that are closing and leaving the country because of the challenging operating environment.
“You then ask yourself, where are the new jobs that have absorbed the thousands of graduates entering the labour market annually?
“The truth is that rebasing the employment template to get a lower figure for unemployment could be more helpful as it may undermine the credibility of NBS’ work in the future.
“We sincerely suggest that figures or statistics dished out to Nigerians can only achieve their purpose when they align with the objective realities on the ground, no matter how bitter.
The idea is that anybody who earns N1000 a week is in an employment smack of attempts at gerrymandering the unemployment rate to cover the inability of the state to perform its responsibilities to the economy and Nigerians.
“In all, we may not accept that figure until we conduct due diligence on the process that led to this outcome.” the official said.
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Dr Tommy Okon, the deputy president of the Nigerian Trade Union Congress (TUC), also said: “We need to learn how they generate their data, especially in Nigeria where we have a shortage of data.
“Manufacturing companies are not employing because they are struggling to stay afloat, Federal Government has not used, and so many people are turned out from tertiary institutions and passed out of NYSC and secondary schools across the country.
Governments should stop covering up and cooking up data for whatever reason. It is known that the country’s unemployment situation is increasing daily, and we cannot pretend about it.”
Prince Peter Adeyemi, the general secretary of NASU, the non-academic staff union of educational and affiliated institutions, stated: “I am one of those who rely on NBS for accurate data, but I strongly doubt this latest report that unemployment has reduced by 4.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2023.
“There is practically nothing to support this position. Instead, the rate of unemployment has increased.
“Remember that the first quarter of 2023 was the period of our elections in Nigeria, where politicians used the youths and the unemployed to advance their political activities.
“Those are temporary engagements that cannot be classified as gainful employment. The federal, state and local governments need to do more in job creation.”
Similar remarks were made by John Adaji, president of the National Union of Textile, Garment, and Tailoring Workers of Brazil(NUTGTWN). He said, “It depends on the source of their information and the sectors they are looking at.
“But as far as the manufacturing sector is concerned and textile in particular, we have witnessed more job losses and even notices of redundancy and closure from some of the factories.
“We should be careful not to politicise critical issues as employment.
“We must resist the temptation to give the wrong impression that we are making progress when, in fact, we are not, as far as the issue of employment is concerned.
“We have a new government which part of its renewed hope agenda is to create jobs. Industrialisation remains the sure means of creating sustainable jobs for the teeming unemployed in the country. The new government must support the revival of the labour-intensive textile and garment industry.”
Femi Oke, executive secretary of the Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Employers’ Federation, CAMPEF, spoke on behalf of the employers. She said: “Some economic sectors may be expanding, but the manufacturing sector needs to expand due to its multiple difficulties. He said,
“Some sectors of the economy may be growing, but the manufacturing sector is not increasing because of its numerous challenges.
“These include foreign exchange, fuel subsidy removal, electricity tariff increase, multiplicity of taxes, etc.
“We are experiencing poor capacity utilisation and shutting down some operations. This is leading to job rationalisation and losses.
“The government should focus on improving the manufacturing sector because they are the largest employer of labour.”
The National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather, and Non-Metallic Products Employees, or NUCFRLANMPE, has lamented the challenging economic environment in the nation and claimed that it has lost no less than 20,000 members over the past year.
Babatunde’ Goke Olatunji, the union’s president, told Vanguard that the last year had been horrible due to the challenging business environment, which had a detrimental effect on the union’s membership.
He said, “The last year has been terrible. Several of our member companies have been embarking on total closure. We have lost a lot of our members. Within the last year, we have lost over 20,000 workers.
“In a situation where the companies produce, there are no sales, and they have continued to ask more workers not to come to work.
“They cannot access foreign exchange; electricity supply has been erratic, and most companies’ prices of diesel and fuel have gone out of reach.
“Those who stay afloat have joined the bandwagon of turning staff to casual workers.
“As we speak, casualization is now everywhere. When employers say contract staff, it is equal to casual. When they say outsource, it is similar to casual staff.
“There are a lot of problems we are facing that still need to be addressed. The earlier the government addressed them, the better for everyone.”
The NBS released the Nigeria Labour Force Survey (NLFS) on Thursday, August 24, and the report puts the country’s unemployment rate at 4.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2023 and 5.3 per cent in Q4 2022
These new figures show a significant drop from the 33.3 per cent for Q4 2020 released in March 2021 and suggest that Nigeria is now comparable to the United States with an unemployment rate of 3.4 per cent and the United Kingdom (4.2 per cent) despite a high poverty rate.