Abuja – Unemployment is highest in the oil-producing region of the country, Mr Emmanuel Ijewere, Chairman of the Agric and Food Security Commission of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, said in Abuja on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said that Bayelsa had the highest unemployment rate of 37 per cent of its population, while Rivers and Akwa Ibom had 32 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively.
“If you look at the various areas where unemployment is high, you will discover that they are the oil-producing areas.
“But worse still is the fact that even those areas that have low unemployment, it is not that the people are richer. It’s because the people have more initiatives and doing things for themselves.
“Many of them are selling recharge cards, many of them are ridding Okada (commercial motorcycles), but that does not bring them to the level that you think is the right economic level they should attain, but they are still doing things for themselves.
“The unemployment in Nigeria needs to be tackled from the reality we have on ground. Bayelsa has the worst number of unemployed and it is one of the biggest oil states in Nigeria, 38.4 per cent unemployed young men and women.
“The best is Plateau 7.1 per cent and you have a number of them. Akwa-Ibom, with all its oil 34 per cent unemployed, then you have a place like Kaduna State, 11.6 per cent.
“These are the issues. You’ll discover that the more easy life you have, the more unemployment you have, and that oil, which is creating the so-called easy life, will dry up one day.’’
The statistics was the outcome of a research on unemployment rate in Nigeria BGL Financial Monitor.
Ijewere said that poverty cut across people in the affected areas because adults did not have access to and control of credit facilities, education and had limited economic opportunities.
Other disadvantages besetting the region, he said, were rooted in social and political inequalities.
According to ijewere, governments of states in the oil-producing region are not impacting well on the lives of the citizenry in spite of the huge statutory revenue allocations to them.
He said that with the figures released by BGL Financial Monitor, it could be established that oil was a detriment.
He said a robust action was required now to urgently address the many factors and this could be achieved by strengthening the capabilities of the rural people to take advantage of mechanised farming.
Ijiwere said since there was global emphasis on agriculture, the affected states should focus attention on it, stressing that development assistance in the sector represented the avenue through which lives and welfare of a large proportion of citizens could be touched, most quickly and massively.
He noted that in doing this, agriculture had to become less-risky for the smallholder farmer and had to be more sustainable and more productive.
He said that urban agriculture had been found to provide employment; increased incomes and contributed to food and social security, but in spite of its important role and the potential, it still faced various difficulties.
Ijewere said that education and skills acquisition were also important because they would empower rural youths and adults to access good employment. (NAN)