By MICHAEL EBOH
The Federal Government of Nigeria’s efforts at reviving the economy through improvement employment generation have received the commendation of stakeholders in the economy, saying that creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive is a sure-fire strategy that will create jobs and reduce the increasing rate of unemployment to the barest minimum.
“The Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, has already inaugurated a committee comprising MAN and other stakeholders to review the nation’s industrial policy, which will drive the country’s industrial revolution.
“The new industrial policy will go a long way in fast-tracking Nigeria’s march to industrialisation, create jobs and generate wealth for our country,” says Chief Kola Jamodu, National President, Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria.
Also commenting on the efforts made so far by some agencies and parastatals under the Ministry of Trade and Investment to create jobs, the Director-General, SMEDAN, Alhaji Umar Nadada, said, “Small and Medium Enterprises are the drivers of economic growth and job creation. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, a National database of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises was created within the last one year in partnership with the National Bureau of Statistics.”
Apart from the near alarming spate of unemployment in Nigeria, experts are of the view that a major consequence of the global economic crisis is the worsening unemployment rate across the global economy.
According to statistics from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), after three years of continuous crisis conditions in the global labour markets and against the prospect of a further deterioration of economic activities across the world, there is currently a backlog of global unemployment of 200 million people – an increase of 27 million people since the economic crisis began about three years ago.
In its report titled, “Global Employment Trend 2012”, released last month, the ILO stated that nearly 75 million young people around the world are without jobs, an increase of more than four million since 2007. Specifically, the report said, “In 2011, 74.8 million youth aged 15–24 were unemployed, an increase of more than four million since 2007. The global youth unemployment rate, at 12.7 per cent, remains a full percentage point higher than the pre-crisis level. Globally, young people are nearly three times as likely as adults to be unemployed.
In addition, an estimated 6.4 million young people have given up hope of finding a job and have dropped out of the labour market altogether.”
Back home, experts have warned that Nigeria is not immune from the global unemployment scourge going by the recent unemployment figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics, in which it raised the alarm over the worsening incidence of poverty and unemployment across Nigeria despite the country’s abundant human and natural resources. According to the NBS, the incidence of poverty in Nigeria has deteriorated within the last eight years.
“In 2004, Nigeria’s relative poverty measurement stood at 54.4 per cent but increased to 69 per cent or 112.518 million Nigerians in 2010. Using the absolute poverty measure, 54.7 per cent of Nigerians were living in poverty in 2004 but this increased to 60.9 per cent or 99.284 million Nigerians in 2010,” the NBS said.
Similarly, the number of unemployed Nigerians, according to NBS, has risen astronomically from 12.3 per cent in 2006, to 23.9 per cent in 2011.
However, Jamodu, who was speaking at the inauguration of the committee for the formulation of the new industrial policy framework, said the revitalisation of the manufacturing sector was the panacea for tackling the nation’s unemployment problem, adding that the recent Industrial Revolution Plan embarked upon by the Ministry of Trade and Investment was a right step in the right direction.
He said, “The Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, has already inaugurated a committee comprising MAN and other stakeholders to review the nation’s industrial policy, which will drive the country’s industrial revolution. This initiative couldn’t have come at a better time than now.
It is a right step in the right direction. Without a clear-cut policy on different sectors of the economy, it is difficult for you as a manufacturer to make long-term investment decisions. Therefore, the new industrial policy will go a long way in fast-tracking Nigeria’s march to industrialisation, create jobs and generate wealth for our country. We will do everything to support the initiative.”
Explaining the focus of the Industrial Revolution Plan, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, pointed out that the Plan was based on areas where the country had comparative and competitive advantage, adding that the government had embarked on far-reaching reforms aimed at improving the business climate and making Nigeria the preferred investment hub in Africa and globally.
He said, “For us as a country, manufacturing is very important because it solves three critical problems: it solves the problem of GDP growth, unemployment and balance of payment. Also, manufacturing is critical to wealth creation. If we are going to move from a poor nation to a rich country, industrialisation holds the key because it has the potential for unlocking the wealth of our country.”
Commenting on the various government’s initiatives, Chief Chuku Nwachukwu, National President, Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists, said the number of jobs being created through the initiatives of the Ministry of Trade and Investment under Aganga, was a phenomenal feat given the situation before he assumed office.
He stressed that the SME funding initiatives of the ministry and its partnership with NASSI had resulted in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between NASSI and First Bank Nigeria Plc, for the provision of loans to small-scale industrialists at a single digit interest rate, adding that the initiative would help many businesses to expand their operations and create additional jobs to reduce the nation’s growing unemployment rate.
Also, Niger State Governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, commended the efforts of the Ministry of Trade and Investment towards poverty alleviation and employment generation.
“The Ministry of Trade and Investment is the key ministry to be supported because it is critical to poverty reduction, economic diversification, industrial revolution, job creation, wealth generation and economic transformation and we have the right man at the helm of affairs,” the Governor said.