The UN Development programme (UNDP) on Tuesday raised concerns over the increasing rate of poverty and unemployment in Nigeria.
DaoudaToure, the Resident Representative of UNDP, made the observation in Abuja at the 53rd Annual conference of the Nigerian Economic Society (NES).
Toure noted that ``for almost a decade now, Nigeria has been recording consistently high economic growth rate that has not produced commensurate employment opportunities and reduction in poverty among its citizens.''
He said the situation was what was often referred to by some analysts as jobless growth.
He also decried the ``available statistics which suggest that the incidence of poverty in Nigeria had indeed worsened between 2004 and 2010.
``Unemployment figures also indicated that the number of unemployed members of the labour force continues to grow from 12.3 per cent in 2006 to 23.9 per cent in 2011.
``It is even more disturbing to note that on the average, youth unemployment rate in Nigeria was 46.5 per cent in 2011.''
He said the situation called for concern and attention “given that we are barely less than three years away from the target for achieving the MDG goals on the reduction of poverty and hunger.
``It is recognised that there is need for integrated and comprehensive approach that included interventions at both macro and micro levels.”
The representative commended the Nigerian Economic society for beaming its conference searchlight on this all important issue of youth employment and poverty reduction.
He said that Nigeria, like most African countries, had a huge share of the young and growing in its population.
``This huge proportion of young and growing population presents both opportunities and challenges. In terms of opportunities, it provides abundant labour supply with much creative potentials,'' Toure said.
He urged the government to engage in growth patterns that generate jobs on a large scale to absorb the additional labour.
He called for a ``rethink and shift from jobless growth strategies toward inclusive and pro-poor growth strategies that equip youths and women with required skills for decent employment”.
Toure commended President Goodluck Jonathan's for making youth development and youth employment a cardinal point in his transformation agenda.
He said UNDP in Nigeria would continue to support government activities that were aimed at providing job opportunities for the teeming Nigerian youths and poverty reduction.
He said UNDP ``will be working closely with all national stakeholders for the youth employment objectives of this government’’.
He expressed the hope that the outcome of the conference would provide a clear and evidence-based roadmap for government, civil society organisations and the private sector for designing appropriate employment and poverty reduction and strategies. (NAN)