The federal government has described the rising rate of unemployment among Nigerian youth as alarming and asserted that the figure could hit 33.5 per cent in 2020.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) put the current unemployment rate in the country at 23.1 per cent.
The minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, spoke on the issue yesterday in Abuja when he opened a two-day workshop on “Breaking the Resilience of High Unemployment Rate in the Country.”
Ngige, who was represented by the permanent secretary in the ministry, Mr. William Allo, however, said that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is committed to tackling the menace of youth joblessness.
The minister said that the high unemployment rate of 23.1 per cent, and underemployment of 16.6 per cent disclosed by NBS in its 2019 report was alarming.
According to him, “it is a worrisome status as the global poverty capital (World Bank, 2018); and concomitant high prevalence rate of crimes and criminalities, including mass murders, insurgency, militancy, armed robbery, kidnappings, drug abuse, among others, point to
“As if this situation is not scary enough, it is projected that the unemployment rate for this country would reach 33.5 per cent by 2020, with consequences that are better imagined, if the trend is not urgently reversed.
“It is a thing of joy to note that Nigeria has not been resting on her oars over the years in terms of dedicated efforts to curb the unemployment problem, ‘’ he said.
Ngige said that various government social intervention programmes targeted at reducing youth unemployment and eradicating poverty had been implemented by different administrations since Nigeria gained independence.
The minister further said that available records showed that between 1972 and 2019, about 14 of such programmes have been implemented.
He said that these programmes include the National Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP), implemented between 1972 and 1973, adding that others are the current National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), which has been on-going since 2017, embedded in the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020.
Ngige lamented that yet the unemployment rate and poverty levels are on a steady path of growth, indicating high resilience against the intervention efforts.
According to him, the questions are why are these intervention efforts not yielding the expected results? What is the government and other stakeholders not doing right?
“What changes are needed in the policies, plans and strategies? What action areas need priority attention? What roles should different stakeholders play? What other options are not being exploited?
“Why do we employ expatriates for jobs Nigerians can do or why can´t Nigerians do these jobs? Why do we have deficits in housing, water, sanitation, food, entertainment facilities, healthcare, and education, among others?
“How do we deploy our population of productive age to fill the skills gaps needed for our national development? How do we break the resilience of high unemployment rate in the country?’’ he asked the forum.
The minister said that these are some of the questions that triggered new thoughts and concepts that led to a series of activities that preceded the workshop, adding that “we are presenting to you the outcome of some of our efforts so far and also commencing another phase of the processes.”
Ngige called for a collaborative mechanism that would yield the desired results and assured the participants that the recommendations from the workshop would receive prompt and sustained attention.
Alo also said that the workshop was aimed at examining issues around the persistently high unemployment rate in Nigeria.
He said that this was with a view to making concrete recommendations on how to tackle the menace.
“This workshop is very important to the Ministry of Labour and Employment due to the direct relevance of the theme to the ministry’s mandate. However, the fact remains that the consequences of high unemployment rate in Nigeria affect each and every one of us as individuals and as members of the Nigerian society.
“The objectives of this workshop are, therefore, to present the findings of the survey on how to break the resilience of high unemployment rate in Nigeria to the peer community; to stimulate actions towards exploiting untapped available options for massive job creations; to chart the way forward on immediate next steps that would yield measurable results, ’’he added.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) country director in Nigeria, Mr. Dennis Zulu, said that unemployment was a major concern to the organisation, especially in Nigeria with a significant proportion of unemployed youths across the continent of Africa.
Zulu said: “So, we believe therefore that if Nigeria addresses the issue of unemployment, it will go a long way to addressing the whole problem that is faced in Africa to that extent. Let me say that over the years, we have recognised the commitment of the federal government of Nigeria, where it has approved various initiatives including the adoption of Employment Policy of 2017.
“This was approved by the National Executive Council (NEC) that provides a blueprint for strategies as far as the creation of jobs for Nigerians is concerned.
“We have also taken note of the different programmes that have been implemented by the Office of the Vice President. These are the N-Power, SURE-P some years ago and many other ongoing programmes, ultimately supposed to contribute to the creation of jobs for young people in Nigeria,’’ Zulu said.
Also, the director Special Duties/Projects in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mrs, Martina Nwordu, called on the participants to commit themselves to the objectives of the workshop to realise the goal of reducing the high unemployment rate in Nigeria.
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