By Emmanuel Edukugho
As 2015 draws very near, Nigeria is still not listed any where near the 10 countries that have made rapid progress to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which particularly include MDGI (eradicate extreme poverty) by providing gainful employment to a significant proportion of its population.
Even the Vision 20:20 in which the nation has been projected to be among the 20 best economies in the world by the year 2020, is becoming a mirage.
According to the World Bank, about 66% of the Nigerian population now fall below the poverty line of about a dollar a day compared to 43% some years ago.
Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, declared recently in Calabar, Cross River State, that the current rate of unemployment in the country was very worrisome, pointing out, “this was adversely affecting the economic development of the country.”
Reeling out a grim statistics, he stated that more worrisome is the fact that unemployment rate has exhibited a worsening trend, rising from 8.2% in 1999 to 23.9% in 2011.
He also cited the case of CrossRiverState where unemployment was also rising astronomically from 7.9% in 2002 to 18.2% in 2011 .
According to the CBN governor, this is obviously not only having a significant effect on the psychology of the individuals concerned but have destabilising impact on the wider society.
Decrying the situation, he said that the 2012 general household survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that 23.9% of the adult working population in Nigeria is unemployed.
He stated that over the years, the CBN had partnered with governments at all levels and various stakeholders to initiate policies and schemes that would help youths in job creation in the country.
Sanusi spoke at the launching of the CBN South-South Entrepreneurship Development Centre in collaboration with the Cross River State Government. It was however revealed that the programme has brought about the successful completion of training of 41,828 entrepreneurs between 2008 and 2013 and that 13,124 jobs were created, while 1,743 were linked with financial institutions from which they obtained loans that amounted to N227.84 million to start and expand their businesses.
For Dr. Olusegun Aganga, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, he advocated the need for self-reliance among Nigerians to check challenges of unemployment in the country. He urged people to stop waiting for the government and to provide jobs for themselves and even others. Stressing on self-reliance in his key note speech at the opening of the 19th Biennial National Training Conference of the Industrial Training Fund,
ITF, he said that self-reliance was one of the basic options for economic sustainability of any economy.
According to him, it is clear that by being self reliant, such individuals must acquire a durable entrepreneurship skills through technical and vocational training. He charged the conference to generate strategies and options to fill the gaps, affirming that Nigeria’s hope of industrialisation was very bright due to numerous transformational programmes put in place by the present administration.
Aganga assured that the government was determined to address the challenges of economic backwardness, hence the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan captured the key issues of skills acquisition and tackling unemployment.
Saying that unemployment was not peculiar to Nigeria alone, but a global problem, he affirmed, “this is the reason employment creation is one of the underlying considerations in every transformational initiatives of the present administration.”
Saturday Vanguard reliably gathered that the agriculture sector has huge potential to generate massive employment but had been neglected and poorly funded over the years, leaving the sector in the hands of old and retired people while youths were seeking white collar jobs in banks and petroleum/gas.
Agriculture used to be a major source of income and foreign earning in the past. But it is not the case today. Most of our food items including rice, vegetable oil, fish, potato, are imported.
Experts believed if the agriculture sector is adequately funded, it has the capacity to generate millions of jobs yearly, due to its short and long term economic potentials, and provide direct and indirect work-force. Nigeria has a large youthful population that can be deployed to farmlands across the country, with mechanised farming carried out.
The construction industry that can also attract millions of workers in the country is still suffering from huge deficits in infrastructure. Roads, housing are grossly inadequate, bridges are not sufficient, railways not developed, so too are shipping and aviation seeking participation and investment.
Nigeri’s oil and gas sector had been left to the whims and caprices of foreign multinational companies who have been mindlessly exploiting these resources with local collaborators to the chagrin of the people. This country is the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world, the 8th largest exporter and having the 10th largest proven reserves.
Now producing oil for about 60 years, earning over 85% of our foreign income amounting to trillions of US dollars, the country is still plagued by massive unemployment, poverty, poor infrastrucrure, deficient education, epileptic power supply, lack of adequate housing, no drinking water, while our per capita income is one of the lowest in Africa. Corrupton has become endemic, bad governance, the order of the day,.
Passage of the envisaged petroleum industry bill and properly applied could rectify a lot of the shortcomings and fraudulent practices going on in the industry which have held the oil and gas sector hostage.
Manufacturing has become comatose as the nation preferred importation of goods and services than prodiving enabling environment for people to work and get jobs. Engineering and manufacturing sectors are thrown open to foreign companies at the expense of local and indigeneous participation.
These foreign firms took delight in hiring Nigerians as casual workers without any career future and could be laid off at any time without due process.