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Tackling our frightening unemployment statistics

LAST week, the International Labour Organisation, ILO, and the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, released frightening reports on unemployment trends across the globe for 2018 and unemployment level in Nigeria. From the ILO report, Sub-Saharan Africa showed no sign of improvement on job creation. Rather, the signs are that many more people will be thrown into the job market before the end of 2018.

The unemployment rate is expected to reach 7.2 per cent in the region. Back home, the NBS report showed that about 7.5 million Nigerians were unemployed between January 2016 and December 30, 2017. This is alarming, anti-development and a threat to the peace, security and growth of the Nigerian nation.

Informal sources have it that over 15 million Nigerians were out of job during the period under review in the oil and gas, construction, financial, maritime, manufacturing, food and beverages, chemical and non-metallic sectors and the civil service, besides those displaced by insurgency, herdsmen attacks and other security challenges.

The summary of this is that the unemployment level in the country is worse than the NBS report indicated because Nigeria has neither the capacity nor means of recording and computing those that have lost their jobs in all the sectors of the economy. We have no way of tracking those that have not been employed at all irrespective of the level of education. In other words, we are groping in the dark while sitting on a keg of gunpowder or on a time bomb which could explode any time.

This calls for serious concern by all. The increasing level of social instability occasioned by Boko Haram insurgency and the displacement of large sections of the farming community by armed herdsmen and possible foreign terror agents (as the Directorate of State Security Services, DSS, recently reported) are all major sources of self-employment disruptions. This is why relevant agencies of government must immediately take pre-emptive and corrective actions to address these growing unemployment multipliers.

The good news is that these reports came at the beginning of the year, meaning that government has at least 10 months to turn the tide and ensure that the army of able-bodied young men and women roaming the streets do not become willing tools for mischief makers to compound our insecurity.

We call on the Presidency to match its words with concrete action and send soldiers and other law-enforcement agents into trouble spots across the country to flush out those destabilising our rural labour force. Government’s helping hands should be extended to our farmers and artisans, while power supply should be rapidly improved to boost job creation.

We have an emergency on our hands and must face up to it decisively and, quickly too.


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