The rising rate of unemployment in Nigeria has been traced to the anti-job creation policies of the government from the ICT sector to government direct employment, youth entrepreneurship scheme among others.
Nigeria with a population of 182,201,962 is battling with 49.5 per cent youth unemployment rate as at second quarter 2016.
Experts and economic stakeholders who spoke Wednesday in Lagos at the #WorldStageEconomicSummit2016 with the theme: Addressing Unemployment Crisis in Nigeria, challenged the government to carry out a major review of its economic policies for them to be problem solving rather than creating more confusion.
Dr Femi Saibu of the Department of Economics, University of Lagos, Akoka, who presented a lead paper at the summit drew attention to the government policy on the ICT revolutions saying it was employment destructive and service oriented and not production/manufacturing sectors oriented.
On government direct employment policy, he said it only created temporary jobs not employment at a greater cost while the series of youth entrepreneurship scheme across the country including ‘You Win’, he said always ended up in creating social media entrepreneur with no employment multiplier.
Moreover, he said the Small and Medium Enterprises Credit Guarantee Scheme had failed to achieve its objective as the funds were difficult to access and politicized, while “people see it as share of national cake and generate little if all employment.”
At the summit organised by World Stage Limited (www.worldstagegroup.com) with support from the Central Bank of Nigeria, Shell Nigeria, United Bank for Africa, Bank of Industry and Zenith Bank, the scholar said what the country needed were large scale industrial set up that can mop up the thousand of unemployed youths.
He said the country needed the establishment of businesses with value chains in productive sectors with greater employment multiplier and government spending in key sectors to provide basic infrastructures that reduce cost of business.
“Not direct underemployment of youths in any disguise that create fiscal cliff,” he said.
“Innovations and technology that lead to higher productivities and not those that take jobs from men to machines.”
Other economic stakeholders who spoke at the summit chaired by Mr Soji Adeleye, MD/CEO, Alfe City Institution include, Mr. Mordecai Ladan, Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Omolara Aromolaran, MD/CEO, Crown Natures Nigeria Plc , Dr. Gloria Elemo, Director General/CEO, Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Mrs Efua Edeh Executive Director, Junior Achievement Nigeria, Barrister Sunday Oduntan, Executive Director, Research & Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, among others.
Barrister Oduntan in his presentation ‘Getting The Power Sector Right To Boost Productivity’ said the power sector was facing many surmountable huge and difficult challenges that had made it unable to play its role as the engine of growth for job creation.
According to him, “The whole electricity supply chain still remain comatose; the promised increased generation and reliability as part of privatization –has not happened; generation continued to hover in the mid-range of 3000 to 4000 Mega Watt; energy theft and meter bypassing are very rampant; and insufficient number of meters due to liquidity gap and massive shortfalls.”
Moreover, he said the “GENCOs have been bedevilled by gas supply issues, cost and vandalization of gas pipeline networks in Nigeria, delay and frustration in construction power plant sometimes on land and contract.”
He there was hope for the sector if some milestones such as funding of liquidity by subsidy & private sector fund, incremental generation, stability and security in generation we can achieved.
“Revenue gap from minor review must fully recognise the variance in forex applied by Gencos and drop in generation for six months,” he said.
Other milestones he prayed for include that MDA debts must be paid, focus on transmission funding & security of power supply, cost-reflective tariffs for DISCOs, strong and independent regulator, continuous and sustained investment on electrical infrastructures particularly TCN, aggressive metering across the board must be sustained.
The DPR boss represented by Mr Kanmi Ayodeji, Manager, Planning, in a presentation ‘Nigeria’s Oil & Gas Reforms- Boosting Indigenous Participation & Energy Security’ said current reforms, initiatives and strategic plans in the oil sector were capable of boosting economic growth and create jobs.
He mentioned reforms such as initiated the modular refinery strategy to boost domestic refining capacity, improve supply of petroleum products and create direct and ancillary jobs.
Moreover, he said automated operational processes of DPR had improved “transparency of government’s regulatory roles of the Industry, effective administration of all critical operational and planning data and revenue for government and DPR.”
The FIIRO boss who was represented by Dr Dele Oyeku, Director, Extension & Linkage, said there was no reason why Nigeria should be facing unemployment crisis if government can implement the research findings of institutions such as FIIRO.
For instance, he said there was an initiative on cassava substitution for wheat in baking which can generate millions of jobs across the country.
The CEO of Crown Natures, Mrs. Aromolaran who spoke on ‘Addressing youths unemployment through capacity building and skill acquisition’, said “our problems as a nation will come to an end once we become a manufacturing state.”
She also noted that Nigeria and Nigerians needed to start producing what are essential to enhance our economy and create jobs.
“Nigeria has always been a country that tackles problems with one strategy. The situation requires us to tackle it with multi strategies, whatever we can do individually should be done, and little by little we shall begin to see our problems getting solved. The situation on ground is not new, but we need Nigerians to realise that every individual has a part to play in economic rejuvenation.”
Also in her paper on ‘Promoting Youth Entrepreneurship for Job Creation’, Manager, Marketing and Communications, Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN), Tobe Ifeanyi who represented her boss spoke about how non-governmental agencies could help in solving the unemployment problem in Nigeria, saying, since inception, over 650,000 students in more than 750 schools in 29 locations across the country had been assisted with the help of over 1000 volunteers.
According to her, JAN provided free programs to youth aged 5 to 27 based on its 3 pillars for success, which are entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy, with the mission to inspire & educate young people to become conscientious business leaders, by implementing skills necessary for personal success and social responsibility.
In his welcome address, the President/CEO, World Stage Limited, Segun Adeleye said that the alarming rate of unemployment in Nigeria should not only be of great concern to the government, but also to the private sector and other critical stakeholders in the economy.
He said, “Though unemployment is a global problem, but for us in Nigeria, it is endemic, as our high population growth is out of proportion with the economic development and productivity.”
Adeleye called for the acceptance, promotion, and utilization of made by Nigeria goods, saying, “Look around us from what we are wearing to what we are using- they are almost all imported- which implies that as we are buying them, we are creating jobs for them in China and other places with nothing for us to do here. This is unacceptable, and it makes the WorldStage Economic Summit (WES) 2016 with the Theme: ‘Addressing the unemployment crisis in Nigeria’ very relevant.”
He explained that the theme of the summit was inspired by the need to identify and proffer solutions to the growing unemployment problem in the public and private sectors of Nigerian economy; “To identify the employment generation potentials of every sector of the economy from Agriculture, ICT, Maritime, banking & finance, mining, aviation, construction, oil and gas and others and then address what they need to realise their full potential; To help review the economic potentials of the state and local governments and arrive at sustainable development strategy for them to be economically viable with or without revenue from federation account; To assist government on policies to make the economy productive, globally competitive and generate jobs; To provide knowledge base for government on how to save billions of naira in revenue, diversify economy, create jobs and end the practice of committing the largest portion of income to the payment of civil servants’ salaries among others.”
He assured participants that the summit will not end like similar conferences on Nigeria with little or nothing to show for them, as it was already being pushed online and in the social media through the #WorldstageEconomicSummit2016 for the sake of other stakeholders that were not fully represented at the summit.
He said the presentations at the summit will also be made available to the government, and there will be necessary follow up on all resolutions with all stakeholders.