Nigeria Withholding Unemployment Data Could Be A Sign That Job Crisis Is At Its Worst Ever

By  |  December 9, 2019

The Nigerian government has come under fire for not releasing the quarterly reports on job creation collated by the National Bureau of Statistics.

Because the withholding is contrary to what is usual, it has been assumed that the administration is keeping the data inaccessible to prevent an outpouring of criticisms from Nigerians. According to experts, the reports have not seen the light of day because the rate of joblessness has risen above 40 percent. 

As Africa’s most impressive economy gradually recovers from the 2016 economic recession, unemployment in Nigeria continues to remain a challenge.

According to a new report released by the World Bank last week, only 450,000 of the 5 million Nigerians that joined the labor force in 2018 are currently employed. In agreement, the Nigeria Economic Update (NEU) report released last Monday revealed that per capita incomes are falling. 

The report released in the third quarter of 2018 shows that Nigeria’s unemployment figure rose to about 23.1 percent, trailed by critiques from stakeholders.

While the administration has claimed to double down to better the economy, a The Guardian investigation revealed the unemployment rate in the country has risen dramatically over the past 4 years. According to the NBS, the economy’s flaws did a number of avenues through which the unemployment gap could have been closed. 

The unemployment problem, which began during the global economic crisis of 2008, is one of the sole causes of poverty in Nigeria. The millions of Nigerians affected by the economic downturn might have no hope of landing a new lease of life in the near future as the World Bank projects that more people in the country might become poorer.

According to the 2019 Nigeria Economic Update Report, 30 million Nigerians might slide into extreme poverty by 2030. In the face of current realities, the possibility is not far fetched. 

At the end of the third quarter of 2018, the NBS stated the economically active – or working-age – population (15 – 64 years) increased from 111.1 million in Q3 2017 to 115 million in Q3 2018.

Of the 20.9 million persons classified as unemployed as at Q3 2018, 11.1 million did some form of work, but for too few hours a week (under 20 hours) to be officially classified as employed, while 9.7 million did absolutely nothing, the NBS said.

According to last year’s issue, only 8.77 million of the 9.7 million unemployed as of Q3 2018 were jobless because they were first-timers because they had no work experience. 7000 people lost their jobs the same year.

The NBS said that an average of 18 bank employees lost their jobs everyday between January and September 2019, though some new hands were hired. Out of Nigeria’s 36 sub-national governments, only 10 attempted to create jobs of any kind or provide an enabling environment for private entrepreneurship to thrive, the World Bank says. 

According to the Director-General of Nigeria’s Employers’ Consultative Association, Timothy Olawale, the delay in the release of the 2019 edition of the NBS unemployment data is because of an act of conspiracy from the government.

Since the bureau has not released data in favor of the administration in the past years, maybe the characterization of the new one does not sit well with them. Recall that Nigeria has a seeming habit of accepting foreign data only when it is favorable

Data or no data, it is common knowledge that no joy in the morning is coming for Nigerian unemployment. As such, many young people turn to entrepreneurship. Jeremy Apkomera, CEO and co-founder of Nigerian branding solutions firm PrimeX Branding, agrees that the unemployment situation calls for concern, but believes it is not the last stop. 

“Instead of looking at what the government is or isn’t doing about employment, we can ask ourselves what we can do to help. I’m a young entrepreneur, a self-funded one at that.

I might not be able to employ like the government would but I can put out 1 or 2 openings for people who are willing to put in the hours to work. I believe if most of us as entrepreneurs think in this path, the statistics will take a huge] turn in record time,” he told WeeTracker.  

In another exclusive, Gbenro Dara, Managing Director of classifieds platform OList, says it is only until recent times that Nigeria began to have substantial employment data, especially under the regime of NBS’s Yemi Kale, the Statistician General of NBS.

“We may need to focus on proxy data that are available the market to get an indication. One of the largest sectors by No of employees is banking and we recently read in a report from NBS that it’s at a four year low in terms of employing contract workers. However, we see a lot of new employment from technology companies especially driven by foreign investment”, GD told WeeTracker.

The story has been updated to feature a comment from Gbenro Dara, OList Managing Director.

Featured Image: The Abuja Times

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