The unemployment rate in Nigeria, according to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics recently, shows that the number of those without gainful employment has risen to 27.1% from the 23.1% recorded in 3rd quarter of 2018. It shows that there is urgent need for quick intervention to avert the looming crisis staring us in the face. Some experts contend that the figures of the unemployed as given by the NBS could even be higher with the COVID-19 pandemic induced large scale lay off of the workforce cutting across the different industries with the private sector worse hit. The country’s unemployment rate also captured those working less than forty hours a week or who are in jobs that underutilized the person’s skill, time or education.
This, according to the report, rose to 28.6%. Aside from the scary statistics coming from the NBS, the majority of Nigerian workers fall under the category of the underemployed because there are no jobs to go round the millions of applicants roaming the streets searching for elusive job openings. Also, the equally saturated labour market seems to have shut its doors against new applicants while shedding the so-called over bloated staff through sack and temporary suspension under the cover of lack of raw materials and unstable business environment that hampers production. Nigeria’s economy is predicted to shrink further with high cost of living hitting the roof top, and soaring inflation capable of worsening the unemployment situation in the country. No thanks to the coronavirus pandemic that has forced many out of their jobs and companies either closed down or are operating at half of their capacities.
Governments at the different levels have come out with palliatives and measures to address the increasing rate of unemployment in the country, but it is yet to be seen whether the desired result will be achieved. We cannot forget in a hurry the N-Power Federal Government facilitated a programme with a mission to move people from poverty to middle class; the Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme, an Initiative of the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Youth and Students Affairs targeted at finding a solution to youth unemployment. For example, the Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme is built on the principle of two for one. That is, each of the 774,000 beneficiaries picked from the local government areas is expected to benefit one person over a period of 12 months after being empowered with a seed business tool.
Recall that recently President Muhammadu Buhari gave the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo the nod to proceed with the recruitment process of 774,000 jobs across the country under the government public works programme after the initial stand up with members of the National Assembly. Not forgetting the long standing history of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) on job creation. These are no doubt, laudable programmes put in place to deal with the unemployment scourge; but it is not an end itself in seeking for a permanent solution to the problem. Often they are short term programmes mired in controversies. The way out of the nagging issue of unemployment, we strongly believe, is for the government to create a conducive environment for private enterprises to flourish and also make agriculture attractive to the youth by providing the necessary incentive for them to return to the land with the prospect of creating indirect job for others.