The Federal Government on Thursday painted a gloomy picture of unemployment in the country, declaring that the current high rate of unemployment at 13.3 per cent was totally unacceptable.
Lamenting the unemployment record, the government said the number of unemployed persons rose to 10.644 million, while the unemployment rate reached its highest since 2009.
According to him, the unemployment rate rose to 13.3 per cent in the second quarter of this year, from 12.1 per cent in the first quarter.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who gave the pathetic scenario, emphasised that no nation could develop by leaving out such huge percentage of the human resources from national development process.
Senator Ngige was speaking at the Validation Workshop of the Reviewed National Employment Policy, organised by the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in Abuja.
The minister said: “Nigeria unemployment rate is said to have reached 13.3 per cent in second quarter of 2016, up from 12.1 per cent in the first quarter, reaching the highest since 2009. During the same period, the number of unemployed persons rose by 12.1 per cent to 10.644 million, while youth unemployment increased to 24 per cent from 21.5.
“The current high unemployment records is clearly unacceptable and no nation develops by leaving out such huge percentage of the human resources from national development processes. The concern is even more urgent due to association of youth idleness with perennial violent crimes in different parts of the country which pose great challenge to socio-economic stability.”
Ngige, who made reference to a recent World Bank Report, said Nigeria needs to create 50 million jobs between now and 2030 to reduce unemployment, improve standard of living, increase productivity and boost societal peace and cohesion.
He pointed out that there is the urgent need to engage a larger percentage of the productive age, 15 to 64 years, in safe, fairly remunerated and sustainable means of livelihood either as wage earners or self-employed, while preserving existing gainful employments.
Also speaking, the Director, ILO Country Office and Liaison Office for ECOWAS, Mr Dennis Zulu, said the statistics on current rate of unemployment do not only bring to the fore but also highlight the seriously and magnitude of the unemployment and underemployment challenge that Nigeria faces today.
Mr. Zulu warned that it is a situation that evidently cannot be ignored, and “thus today’s Draft Employment validation meeting is of particular significant for Nigeria going forward.”
He pointed out that the current unemployment rate was the seventh consecutive rise in unemployment since the fourth quarter of 2014.
The President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who was represented by the Assistant General Secretary, Comrade Eustace James, commended the initiative, saying that globally, employment is regarded as the best means to take people out of poverty.
He said: “For us in the NLC and the trade unions who organise and represent the working people, nothing would be more appreciable that to have a National Employment Policy, that will provide the necessary guides for employment, engagement of workers and regulations in line with the international standards that promote decent work agenda; and most especially with respect to labour and human rights.”