By Funmi Komolafe in Geneva
GENEVAâ€”The educational system in Nigeria is to be restructured to empower university graduates with skills for self-employment.
Also,governmentÂ has set aside $2.I billion (N3,000bn) to encourage educated persons to participate in commercial farming to create more job opportunities.
Government is alsoÂ to concentrate on solid mineral development, especially coal as alternative power generation and creating job opportunities.
Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan said these in Geneva yesterday at a vice-presidential panel on â€œManaging the national jobs agenda in time of crisis.â€
He told delegates to the 98th International Conference that Nigeria had also put in place, â€œThe National Employment Council,the youth employment council and strengthening social dialogueâ€ as part of efforts aimed at job creation.
â€œWe believe even though there is global recession, but in Nigeria because of our population and theseÂ programmes, weâ€™ll get over it. Our greatest challenge is that we were depending on oil but now, we are also looking at other areas including agriculture and solid minerals.â€
On commercial farming, he said, â€œbefore now, most of our farmers were old people who were engaged in subsistence farming. Now, we want to encourage educated people to go into commercial farming,” he added.
The vice presidentÂ said NigeriaÂ has felt the impact of the global financial crisis in â€œÂ falling oil prices,Â direct foreign invesment has dropped, remittance from Nigerians in diaspora hasÂ declined but government has put in a number of things that we are looking atâ€
He explained that the federal government decided to do away with subsidy on power andÂ petroleum products because she has confirmed thatÂ the subsidy has not been of benefit to the greatest number of Nigerians.Â For instance, he said, subsidy on petroleum products has encouraged smuggling across the borders.
Vice – president , Goodluck JonathanÂ said â€œ the idea of the seven pointÂ agendaÂ is to create infrastructure andÂ through it create jobsÂ but then the recession came inâ€.
Against the backdrop of protests and agitation from organized labour, Vice- president JonathanÂ told the ILO that â€œ In the era of repression labour will come up with a lot of agitation , so we are strengthening our dialogue with labourâ€.
He recalled that the National Employment Summit organised by the ministry of labour in collaboration with the ILO was to identify areasÂ with numerous job prospectsÂ for the nationâ€™s unemployed.
Also contributing, the Vice – President of Kenya,Â Mr. StephenÂ MusyokaÂ Â said Kenyans as employers, workers and government have resolved together to tackle the effect of the global financial crisis on jobs.
He said,Â Kenya has realised that â€œThis is not the timeÂ to fire employees. It is time for pulling togetherâ€.
The Kenyan vice president said, â€œWe got it wrong with the Structural Adjustment ProgrammeÂ givenÂ to us by the Brentton Woods Institutions. The challenge isÂ do we want toÂ pull togetherÂ or face social crisis togetherâ€.
In his contribution, South African vice-president, Mr. KgalemaÂ MotlantheÂ Â said South Africans have experienced job losses but â€œjob cut backs have been handled in a most responsibleÂ manner. We ensured that only thoseÂ due for pension are laid off. We also have re-training for workers who lose their jobsâ€.
The South African vice president however said,Â â€œour revenue collection declined by about $43 billionÂ but we are maintaining infrastructure so that weÂ keep people on their jobsÂ rather than let the infrastructure deteriorateâ€.
He also said his country hasÂ also employed social dialogue in addressing the issues.
Mr. Motlanthe said, â€œSocial Dialogue is important to ensure that people always raise their voices as much as possibleâ€.