By Victor Ahiuma-Young
THE problems of rising of unemployed and underemployed in Nigeria is assuming frightening dimension every passing day as the economy remains in the doldrums and socio-economic environment is becoming harsher for businesses to thrive, thereby frustrating the capacity of businesses to sustain and create employment.
Not downplaying its efforts over the years to fight this menace, the Federal Government while reaffirming its commitment to fight the employment crisis in the country, called for stakeholders’ support to address the challenge.
This becomes imperative as the government believes that increasing unemploy-ment and joblessness among the country’s youth is a threat to its target of becoming one of the top 20 leading economies in the world by 2020.
Speaking through the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Professor Stephen Ocheni, the government expressed concern and commitment to addressing the high rate of unemployment among Nigerian youths.
The Minster spoke while delivering a keynote address at a one-day Consultative Meeting on the Resilience of High Unemployment Rate in Nigeria organised by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in Abuja.
Hear him: ”The projected economic growth rate to make Nigeria one of the top 20 world economies by the year 2020, and the robust goals of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan cannot be achieved if a significant number of the productive population remains unemployed or underemployed. The Ministry of Labour and Employment is particularly concerned about high unemployment among graduate and unskilled persons which together form over 80 per cent of unemployed persons in Nigeria.
“The present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has made giant strides in policy and programme measures that favour job creation with huge investments in the Works, Housing and Power sectors, which are widely acknowledged to have high propensity for job creation, are examples of such measures.
Furthermore, the approval of the National Policy on Employment, which has been pending for years; the National Social Investment Programme, specifically the N-Power content for unemployed graduates, and the Agricultural Anchor Borrower’s Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria are also some of the job creation models initiated by this administration.”
While calling on stakeholders to support Federal Government’s efforts at combating the menace of unemployment, Ocheni said: “I have no doubt in my mind that this gathering boasts of experts in various segments of the employment subsector, and that you have all come prepared to participate effectively in the discussions.
Although provision of enabling environment for employment generation fall under the purview of the Federal Government, we need extensive partnerships and collaborations with our stakeholders, which you all represent, to cover more grounds. We seek your views, as experts in the field, on how to rapidly reduce unemployment in Nigeria. The unemployment situation in our country demands commitment and dedication from each and every one of us because the consequences of joblessness among our youths affect us all.”
Earlier, the Director, Special Project Unit, Dr. Martina Nwordu, expressed optimism that although youth unemployment was on the increase, however, with the ongoing increased capital utilisation such as the N-power programme and the various empowerment programmes being implemented by the National Directorate of Employment, NDE, there was hope that the employment situation in the country would improve in the short to medium term.
She added that employment creation and retention of jobs required multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional intervention approaches as efforts had been made in the past by some ministries, departments and agencies as well as developmental organisations with little or no impact, necessitating the need to do more to change the narrative.