Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has raised the alarm that the country’s unemployment rate would reach 33.5 per cent by 2020.
He stated this Thursday in Abuja while declaring open a two-day workshop on “Breaking the Resilience of High Unemployment Rate in the Country”, adding that the high unemployment rate of 23.1 per cent, and underemployment of 16.6 per cent by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, of 2019 report was worrisome.
The minister said, “It is a worrisome status as the global poverty capital (World Bank, 2018); and concomitant high prevalence rate of crimes and criminality, including mass murders, insurgency, militancy, armed robbery, kidnappings and drug abuse, among others.
“As if this situation is not scary enough, it is projected that the unemployment rate for this country will 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.”
Ngige said that various government social intervention programmes targeted at reducing youth unemployment and eradicating poverty, have been implemented by different administrations since Nigeria gained independence.
He disclosed that available records showed that between 1972 to date, about 14 different programmes have been implemented, adding that these programmes included the National Accelerated Food Production Programme, NAFPP, implemented between 1972 and 1973; the current National Social Investment Programme, NSIP, which has been ongoing since 2017, and embedded in the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, 2017-2020.
The minister noted that yet, the unemployment rate and poverty levels are on steady paths of growth, indicating high resilience against the intervention efforts and wondered why some of the intervention efforts were not yielding 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 and 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, health care, 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?” Ngige queried, adding these were some of the questions that triggered new thoughts and concepts that led to series of activities that preceded the workshop.
Ngige said the workshop was aimed at presenting the outcome of some of government efforts and the commencement of another phase of the processes.
He, however, called for a collaborative mechanism that would yield desired results, while assuring that the recommendations from the workshop would receive prompt and sustained attention.