Nigeria’s unemployment crisis, the worst since the country’s transition to democracy in 1999, is unrelenting and waging a continuous war on the people.
Some 23 million Nigerians are unemployed, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS); the equivalent of the population of the Netherlands and Singapore combined.
The unemployment rate of 33.3 percent is the second highest globally after Namibia. What is worse is the forecast by economists that the rate could hit 40 percent by the end of 2021. Sadly, the pain of unemployed Nigerians is however not limited to simply having no jobs.
Unemployed workers do not only lose their income, but their minimum security and their health benefits. They lose the capacity to update themselves in their professions. They lose their identity. Their families are unstructured. Their lives are unstructured. A family in which all members lose their jobs lives the reality of; hunger, lack of housing, illness and poor or no education.
What must be done
Providing enough productive jobs for Nigeria’s young and growing population presents a particular challenge, especially at a time of weak economic growth.
As posited by the World Bank, labour is the main asset for the world’s poorest people. This means that; the labour market is “the primary vehicle through which the proceeds of economic growth are spread to households and individuals. Therefore; understanding the labour market is crucial to achieve Nigeria’s aspiration to lift 100 million people out of poverty by 2030.”
It will be critical to invest in human capital, recouping learning lost due to insecurity and long years of poor investment in education by the state. Doing this will not only provide workers with the skills needed to prosper in the labour market and create jobs themselves, but as argued by the international financial institution, “could also aid the country’s fertility transition, so that the proceeds of growth are shared among fewer people, enabling a faster rise in living standards.”
Secondly, the policy framework has to be more stable. The Nigerian government needs to address insecurity so people can thrive in their business. The government must also undertake macroeconomic reforms around exchange-rate, trade, and fiscal policies to help the economy broaden away from oil and kindle the structural transformation needed to create good wage jobs.
Adapted from BusinessDay (Nosa Igbinadorlor)
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