June 16, 2009

FG to restructure education system —VP

By Funmi Komolafe in Geneva
GENEVA—The educational system in Nigeria is to be restructured to empower university graduates with skills for self-employment.

Also,government  has set aside $2.I billion (N3,000bn) to encourage educated persons to participate in commercial farming to create more job opportunities.

Government is also  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 “Managing the national jobs agenda in time of crisis.”

He told delegates to the 98th International Conference that Nigeria had also put in place, “The National Employment Council,the youth employment council and strengthening social dialogue” as part of efforts aimed at job creation.

“We believe even though there is global recession, but in Nigeria because of our population and these  programmes, we’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.”

On commercial farming, he said, “before 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 president  said Nigeria  has felt the impact of the global financial crisis in “  falling oil prices,  direct foreign invesment has dropped, remittance from Nigerians in diaspora has  declined but government has put in a number of things that we are looking at”

He explained that the federal government decided to do away with subsidy on power and  petroleum products because she has confirmed that  the subsidy has not been of benefit to the greatest number of Nigerians.  For instance, he said, subsidy on petroleum products has encouraged smuggling across the borders.

Vice – president , Goodluck Jonathan  said “ the idea of the seven point  agenda  is to create infrastructure and  through it create jobs  but then the recession came in”.

Against the backdrop of protests and agitation from organized labour, Vice- president Jonathan  told the ILO that “ In the era of repression labour will come up with a lot of agitation , so we are strengthening our dialogue with labour”.

He recalled that the National Employment Summit organised by the ministry of labour in collaboration with the ILO was to identify areas  with numerous job prospects  for the nation’s unemployed.

Also contributing, the Vice – President of Kenya,  Mr. Stephen  Musyoka   said Kenyans as employers, workers and government have resolved together to tackle the effect of the global financial crisis on jobs.
He said,  Kenya has realised that “This is not the time  to fire employees. It is time for pulling together”.

The Kenyan vice president said, “We got it wrong with the Structural Adjustment Programme  given  to us by the Brentton Woods Institutions. The challenge is  do we want to  pull together  or face social crisis together”.

In his contribution, South African vice-president, Mr. Kgalema  Motlanthe   said South Africans have experienced job losses but “job cut backs have been handled in a most responsible  manner. We ensured that only those  due for pension are laid off. We also have re-training for workers who lose their jobs”.

The South African vice president however said,  “our revenue collection declined by about $43 billion  but we are maintaining infrastructure so that we  keep people on their jobs  rather than let the infrastructure deteriorate”.

He also said his country has  also employed social dialogue in addressing the issues.
Mr. Motlanthe said, “Social Dialogue is important to ensure that people always raise their voices as much as possible”.