Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Are The Jobs? By Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

Sahara Reporters
9 September 2011

By Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai
Today, Nigeria has about 90 million people who are willing and able to work, but about 70 million of them have no gainful employment. This is an alarming figure, but when the 4.7million people captured in the formal sector in the latest statistics from the Pensions Commission is increased by the 3 to 4 times standard multiplier to capture those in the informal sector, it means that only about 20 million Nigerians have jobs, out of a population of 162 million. This simple fact causes the country a loss of about N2 trillion annually from the absence of commercial activities that ordinarily should have taken place but did not.

So every day, millions of our unemployed brothers and sisters – including those entering the workforce for the first time and others who lost their jobs due to the incompetent management of our economy anxiously scan the pages of newspapers and websites for job advertisements; less than ten percent of applicants will be successful, but at least 3 million more unemployed people will join them next year. Why are unemployment and inflation rates rising while productivity continues to decline? Why have our vast resources not created massive employment opportunities for Nigerians? The most despairing aspect is the fact that the worst affected are Nigerians between the ages of 21 and 40 years - the future leaders of our country. 


There is an urgent need to reform the various agencies involved in creating employment and alleviating poverty. The National Directorate of Employment (NDE) as it currently stands can only create what amounts to a drop in an ocean: the National Poverty Alleviation Programme must be reformed from being an outpost for the distribution of Indian manufactured tricycles; the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) must help nurture small and medium businesses in Nigeria because SMEs are key to job creation and the Bank of Industry must step up to save the real sector from imminent collapse. In short, all these agencies must come together – urgently - to review the job creation master plan for Nigeria. We need to create a minimum of 3 million jobs every year to begin to tackle the unemployment situation in the country.

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