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Thursday, 25 July 2013

Enough of FG’s vague statistics on employment

Against the background of the Federal Government’s  periodic reeling out of statistics on Nigeria’s economic growth, Etuka Sunday and Evelyn Okakwu report that the much-touted growth recorded by the nation’s economy has not in any way impacted on the lives of Nigerians by way of employment generation.
Minister of Labour, Chukwuemeka WoguOn Tuesday, 16th July, a new batch of corps members were again dispatched from various orientation camps all over the country. These corps members will, in the next 11 months join the mass of job seekers in the Nigerian labour market.
Despite the rate of population growth experienced in Nigeria, one area that seems to have defied the impact of the modest gains in the nation’s economy over the years is youth unemployment. Individuals aspiring to political offices have always put it at the top of their priority lists while negotiating for votes during election, yet the problem of unemployment has continued to stare the nation in the face.
Economists insist that the growing disparity between population growth rate and the present capacity of the nation’s economy for employment generation must be urgently addressed to achieve economic stability. Even the reports by the World Bank on May 13 roused economic affairs commentators to the latest debate on the severity of the problem of unemployment in the country.
According to the report, the World Bank noted that Nigeria’s annual growth rates, which averaged seven percent in official data during the last decade, place the nation among the fastest growing economies in the world. This growth has been concentrated particularly on trade and agriculture, which would suggest substantial welfare benefits for many Nigerians. The report noted however, that improvements in social welfare indicators have been much slower than would have been expected in the context of reported growth.
According to the World Bank report, this is because poverty reduction and job creation have not kept pace with population growth, implying social distress for an increasing number of Nigerians. Progress toward the fulfillment of many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been slow, and the country ranked 153 out of 186 countries in the 2013 United Nation (UN) s Human Development Index.
Although several efforts have been made by the Federal Government, in collaboration with stakeholders, to ensure that Nigerian graduates become mostly self-reliant, analyses have proven that while these efforts have recorded reasonable success in the lives of Nigerian graduates and labour seekers, it has not succeeded in convincing these graduates that there are no jobs in the country for them.
More so, the revelation from past reports that some scrupulous Nigerians take advantage of the prevailing trends to blackmail job seekers into believing that they must pay a given sum to be employed has further given room to believe that these jobs may, as a matter of fact exist, but only for some special people who know their way around the polity or have a handful of godfathers to back them up.
While the World Bank says that job creation in Nigeria has been inadequate in keeping pace with the expanding working age population, the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, last month gave an ambiguous statistics of the supposed unemployed youths in Nigeria, pegging it at 37million.
This confused statistics, rather than clear report of the reality on ground has been generating mixed reactions, not only from the youths, but also from many Nigerians who doubt the statistics reeled out by the Federal Government.
In saner climes where statistics are correctly used changes in the unemployment figure depend mostly on in-flows made up of non-employed people starting to look for jobs, of employed people who lose their jobs and look for new ones and of people who stop looking for employment”.
Going by the records, in 2000, the rate of unemployment was given as 13.15. In 2001, it was given as 13.6%. 12.6% in 2002, 14.8% in 2003, 13.4% in 2004, 11.9% in 2005, 12.3% in 2006, 12.7% in 2007, 14.9 % in 2008, 19.7% in 2009, 21.1% in 2010, 23.9% in 2011 respectively.
In May, 2013, the Statistician-General, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Dr. Yemi Kale, put the current rate of unemployment in Nigeria at 23.9 per cent. It however remains to be seen whether the Federal government’s plans to create 3.5 million jobs from the Agricultural sector as Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said recently would come to fruition.
Dolabgo Adelana, a graduate of Computer Science from the Olabisi Olubanjo Ago-Iwoye University, Ogun state, a ‘Batch C’ corps member, who works as a security guard at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport, Abuja, speaking on the FG’s skill acquisition programme said, “It is a very good programme; in that it will make the beneficiaries self-reliant and as such they will not depend on the government to do things for them”.
However he lamented the fact that people will still have to make and request for loans to start up. According to him, “Now, when you go to banks they ask for collateral. Although there is what they call the NYSC foundation, whereby after you graduate, you can get loans for yourself from the use of NYSC foundation card but listening to the news recently, they were saying that many people that get the loans do not return it”.
Dolabgo continues: “Even when corporate firms are employing, sometimes the criteria they give i.e. the years of experience they demand makes it very difficult for people that are just coming out of school to get such jobs. Our country is becoming too certificate-driven that they don’t actually test people based on what they can actually do, which is why most people duplicate certificates. He therefore suggested that we should be more “Sabificate” than “certificate”. According to him, “There should be more focus on what a candidate knows how to do rather than what his paper says”.
On the way out of the problem, Oladigbo says, “The only thing the youths can do basically is to develop themselves to the point that nobody can actually turn them down for a job, adding that the government has a lot to do to ensure the provision of the necessary infrastructure that would enable job-creation.
Regarding the Federal Government’s skill acquisition programme, Damilola, also a security guard with a firm in Maitama, Abuja has this to say: “It is a nice gesture, in that it makes sure that job seekers can depend upon themselves and have certain jobs. It enables people to become independent and even move from being independent to being inter-dependent”.
Though a fresh graduate, Damilola notes that most of today’s graduates are really nothing to write home about. “I have seen a graduate that cannot even write a formal letter”, he laments. He however adds that, “At times, it is not really because there are no jobs out there; the problem is that the pay that goes with most jobs is not favourable”.
He therefore encourages job seekers to acquire up-to –date- information and skills that will make them outstanding, especially at interviews. He said job seekers should focus on acquiring the relevant and necessary skills required by today’s fast changing world and the sky will be their starting point.

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