THE JOB SUMMIT
FINANCE Minister, Olusegun Aganga boasts about the growth of the Nigerian economy with rates that are better than the rest of the world except China and Indian.
Last August, Aganga said, 'real GDP has been measuring six per cent or higher in the past five years.' Good news but the grim unemployment figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, stated that national unemployment increased from 11.9 per cent in 2005 to 19.7 per cent in 2009, the highest since 2000.
'About a quarter (25 per cent) of the working-age citizens are not in the labour force at all. Only 10 per cent of the labour force is in formal waged employment with the rest in the low paid insecure sector,' Richard Sandall of the World Bank added at the same event Aganga spoke last year.
'Despite its riches from oil and growing economy, waged employment in Nigeria is actually falling. Only with job growth can Nigeria meet its commitments to poverty reduction and its Vision 2020 objectives.'
Identified areas of continued growth in the economy are ICT, construction, entertainment, tourism, meat, and leather. Government wants to explore them further. Leather, for example, has been consistently identified as one of Nigeria's highest non-oil export earners.
'Youth unemployment is rising in the country, causing unrest and other social problems. Growth has not been in line with the aspirations of the people and has not been driven by higher productivity. The public perception is that there has been little job creation,' said Lead Economist of the World Bank, Volker Treichel in his contribution.
The job summit proposed today for Abuja will focus on these and critical matters that inhibit jobs. The level of youth unemployment belies the paraded statistics. The case of the youth is worsened by the fact that after years of unemployment, they are subsequently unqualified for jobs, as they would not gain relevant working experience.
If the situation remains unresolved, Nigeria would be burdened with a generation of unemployed, inexperienced, and unemployable people who would be ill prepared for future responsibilities.
Youth unemployment has more immediate consequences. It creates an army of youth who engage in crimes and other social vices. The police consistently lists youth unemployment as a major factor in crimes.
The NBS 2009 Report rated Bayelsa State, Katsina State, and Akwa Ibom, two of the states are in the restive Niger Delta region, as those with the highest unemployment rates. Rates are lowest in Plateau, Ogun, and Benue states.
Government's concerns about unemployment must be more fundamental than workshops and summits. All the talks and ideas that they generate would amount to nothing until governments dealt with basic infrastructure. Many jobs evaporated over the cost of energy. Roads, water, and security are among inadequacies that have aided growth of unemployment.
To make a difference, this job summit must concentrate on practical solutions to the challenges that the nation faces.
Conferences, workshops, and stakeholders meetings - as earlier ones have proven - do not solve problems without implementation of sound policies they generate.