By IGHO OYOYO,
The House of Representatives yesterday asked the executive arm of government to lift embargo on employment by directing the Head of Service of the Federation to declare existing vacancies.
The House also called on the Federal Civil Service Commission to embark on mass recruitment exercise, even as it urged members of the organised private sector to fill existing vacancies with a view to reducing the rate of unemployment in the country.
For the private sector, the Green Chamber it was necessary considering the interventions it has enjoyed from the federal government and other development partners.
These resolutions were sequel to a motion raised by Hon Sani Bala (kano State) at the plenary on the need to lift the embargo placed on employment by federal ministries, departments and agencies, and for the private sector to ameliorate the effects of the COVID–19 pandemic in the country.
Bala noted that President Muhammad Buhari, during the budget presentation in October 2019, announced an embargo on recruitment in federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
The lawmaker, in his motion, said: “Aware that by virtue of its role as the major employer of labour in the country, the action of the Federal Government not to sack or reduce salaries of its workers at the time has been applauded and has no doubt helped to reduce the worsening effects of the pandemic.
“Also aware that in the attempt to address the adverse effects of the pandemic, the federal government instituted stimulus packages of N65 billion to assist a coalition of private sector operators, N50 billion survival funds for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and N15billion guaranteed uptake scheme to save 500,000 jobs, among other interventions.
“Concerned that in view of the projection made by the Minister of Labour in 2018 that Nigeria would record an unemployment rate of 33.5% by 2020, the pandemic had only worsened the situation, with the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo alleging that 39.4 million job losses were anticipated by December 2020”.
The lawmaker also expressed concern that as fallout from the pandemic, the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, in its report, pegged unemployment rate at about 27.1 percent in the second quarter of 2020, the highest on record since 2018 when the unemployment rate was put at 23.1 percent in the third quarter of that year.
He said, “Disturbed that in addition to the 2 million Nigerians previously projected by the World Bank to become impoverished, a further 5million Nigerians have been said to be facing poverty as a result of COVID–19 Pandemic”.
He noted that the number of corps members who pass out on completion of the mandatory service year at various intervals is disturbing, adding that the unemployment statistics in Nigeria shows that the most agile working–class population in the country remain unemployed.
“Worried about the dire consequences of youth unemployment in the society under critical periods like this, including poverty as well as rising criminal activities and other social vices which are currently prevalent in various parts of the country as the effects of the pandemic continue to bite harder,” he said.
He further said cognisant of the fact that Nigeria, like many other countries, ought to have begun a post-COVID–19 era by implementing measures geared towards revamping the economy and improving other socio–economic sectors.
15% Of FCT Residents At Risk Of Food Insecurity – FCTA
Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has said 15 per cent of residents in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) face the challenge of food insecurity.
FCT permanent secretary, Mr Olusade Adesola, who disclosed this at the 8th Regular Meeting of the FCT Council of Agriculture and Rural Development held in Abuja yesterday, explained that the assessment was based on a survey conducted in the 62 wards in the territory.
Adesola stated that the situation was unacceptable considering the fact that the FCT was endowed with rich and vast arable land and water resources that could be harnessed towards improving the livelihood of the citizenry.
Represented by a director in his office, Mr Atang Samuel, the permanent secretary said the administration, through its relevant agencies and parastatals had continued to implement innovative programmes to address areas of critical needs of small holder farmers.
He stated that the administration, through the expertise of its agriculture extension agents, trained over 5,000 farmers on good practices that could enhance the quality and quantity of farm produce, while also exploring avenues to showcase the viable investment opportunities that exists in the agricultural sector.
Speaking earlier, acting secretary of FCT Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat (ARDS), Mr Ibe Chukwuemeka, had assured that the secretariat would continue to work hard with relevant stakeholders towards repositioning the agricultural sector.
Chukwuemeka said the choice of the theme of the council meeting, “Ensuring Strategies Towards Commercialisation of Agriculture for Economic Empowerment to Mitigate the Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Promote Sustainable Food Security”, was in line with the present global realities and challenges of food security occasioned by the COVID-19 Pandemic.