The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently disclosed that at least 1.5 million Nigerians became unemployed in the first quarter of 2016.
In its unemployment and underemployment report released in May, NBS said the country’s unemployment rate grew from 10.4 percent in the last quarter in 2015 to 12.1 percent.
In the third and fourth quarter of 2015, Nigeria saw about the same number of people become unemployed.
“In Q1 2016, the labour force population (i.e. those within the working age population willing, able and actively looking for work) increased to 78.4 million from 76.9million in Q4 of 2015.
“This means an additional 1,528,647 economically active persons within 15-64 entered the labour force i.e. were able and willing and actively looking for work between January 1 and March 31 2016.
“Within the same period, the total number in full time employment (did any form of work for at least 40 hours) decreased by 528,148 persons or 0.97%.
“This consists of people who lost their jobs and were either forced or for various reasons chose to move from full time employment to underemployment.
“Within the same period, the number of unemployed in the labour force, increased by 1,449,18 persons (increase of 518,000 between Q3 and Q4 2015) between Q4 2015 and Q1 2016,” NBS stated.
The agency also said that youth unemployment rose to 42.24 percent, as 15.2million youths remain unemployed in the country.
Several factors have been identified by experts as causes of the high unemployment rate in the country. These include lack of regular electric power supply leading to the collapse of many businesses and manufacturing concerns; poor quality of education which has led to the churning out of unemployable graduates by Nigeria’s tertiary institutions; lack of marketable skills; wilful neglect of the agricultural sector which is the highest employer of labour in the country; high level corruption and nepotism. It is worrisome that of about 1.8 million Nigerians who graduate every year, less than one third are able to secure gainful employment.
One sure way of making mass unemployment a thing of the past is industrialization, but industries cannot thrive in the face of epileptic power supply and poor infrastructures. Many Nigerians are disconcerted that in the 21st century, the supply of regular electricity remains a mirage in their country. Many Nigerians will become self-employed when there is regular electricity supply to power their businesses. Artisans, barbers, hairdressers, fashion designers and many other cottage industries will spring up and contribute to employment generation in the country.
Industries will also not thrive in the face of consistent policy summersault. Inconsistent policies create uncertainties, which entrepreneurs and investors loathe.
According to Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Small and Medium Enterprises manufacture more than 90 per cent of the products used in Nigeria. This shows that they play vital role in the nation’s economy. The Government should reduce the huge amount of charges and taxes on SMEs to enable them stay afloat and expand their operations.
The agricultural sector, which is the highest employer of labour in the country, needs to be mechanized and enhanced for optimal output. Provision of accessible roads and effective transport system; loans to farmers and the provision of grants and amenities will substantially encourage Nigerians to take to farming.
Nigeria’s maritime industry also has the potential of making significant contributions to the reduction of unemployment in the country. Deepening of port reforms, effective implementation of the Cabotage Act, development of inland water transportation and strengthening indigenous participation in the carriage of the country’s inbound and outbound cargoes will open avenues for the employment of a sizeable number of Nigerians in the sector.