Poverty And Unemployment In Nigeria: Recent Realities

Nigeria's fortune has been majorly roped on the performance of the Oil sector for years, however, in recent times, oil revenues has been dwindling and from April through first quarter 2014, Oil revenue has been taking the low side with volatile short time capital flows.

While Government has tried to mitigate the impacts of these realities on the economy through prudent fiscal, monetary, and exchange rate policies in other to maintain stability, contribute to investor and balance of payments stabilization, and reduce the pace of inflation. Despite these attempts, these realities however have had a toll on the realities of poverty and unemployment in the country, but how far?

The recent rebasing exercise which changed the based year from 1990 to 2010 and translated the economy from $269.5billion to a $500billion dollar economy showed the diversification of the economy which had hitherto been hidden in the old base structure. The new base had made the economy the biggest in Africa and the 26th largest in the world in term of GDP size, it had reexamined the major contributions to GDP which had shifted from manufacturing to service, it had increased the per-capita income from $1,555 to $2,688 which improved its ranking from 135th position to 121st position in the world. GDP to debt ratio too has improved. With these quantum of positives, it is quite hard to ascertain the particular percentage of unemployment as the National Bureau of Statistics has temporarily ceased publishing figures on unemployment in Nigeria pending a decision on the adoption of a new official methodology. The last reported estimate in 2011 was 23.9%

However, While definite figures aren't out there from the NBS, it recorded that 1, 167, 740 jobs were created in 2013 with fifty four percent of these jobs said to be cooked in the informal sector, 37% in the private sector, while the public sector took 9% of the chunk. While the percentage from the informal sector is still relatively beyond the grasp of actual verification, the International Labour Organization gave a new perspective, it gave the unemployment rate in Nigeria to be lower than10%. Before this raises eyebrows, it went further to explain that just like in many other developing countries, most Nigerians cannot afford to be completely unemployed. Those without good productive employment therefore typically engage in various low productivity and low paying tasks for survival. The employment problem in Nigeria in this regard can best be understood as an underemployment problem corresponding to a scarcity of high productivity jobs, as it is in many cases of highly qualified candidates to fill those jobs.

However, the recent report from the international labour organization had brought a new perspective in to the unemployment challenge in Nigeria as that of underemployment, the menace of poverty has remained a menace with no new perspective, but a further test of the disparity between the gap between figures and actual impact. While GDP Had increased, poverty hadn't really corresponded and the old dualistic divide between the North and South side of the economy had remained. Using the general house survey data from the National Bureau of Statistics in 2012/2013. It made use of 5000 households. It showed that the rate of development between rural and urban Centers is as wide as before the rebasing exercise. Using the Gini Index, Nigeria's Gini Index increased from 0.33 to 0.34, an increase which is equivalent to about 3% increase in inequality in three years. It also showed that the number of Nigerians closing In on the poverty side isn't on the low side.

The performance of the year since the rebasing exercise has shown a lot of promise from the first quarter GDP growth rate in Q1 2014 which was 6.21%, an improvement over the 4.55% recorded in the corresponding period in 2013. However, growth promises and potentials are not ends in themselves. Poverty is still a menace, with a vast majority in rural areas still living below the poverty line. This deserves to be checked while new policies aimed at correcting the recent happenings to unemployment should have a shade to cover underemployment, so we don't continue to have a high figure of employment creation with a high rate of poverty simultaneously.

Daniels Adeoye
(Daniels Adeoye can be reached via [email protected]

He tweets @pdaniellz)

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Articles by Daniels Adeoye