The Senate, yesterday, raised the alarm over rising rate of unemployment in the country and called on the federal, state, and local governments to urgently declare a state of emergency on the problem. With the State of Emergency, the Upper Chamber said the three tiers of government would provide jobs for the teeming youth of Nigeria.
According to the Senate, the action has become imperative because the nation is sitting on a keg of gunpowder, with the state of unemployment among teeming qualified youths. It said this remained the only way to save the country from the problems of banditry,, kidnapping, armed robbery and other social vices. Asking the federal government to direct the Ministry of National Planning to set up a machinery for job creation for youths, the Senate also urged federal, state, and local governments to revitalise existing industries, build new ones, and provide conducive and enabling environment for the private sector to build more industries.
It equally asked government to initiate a sustainable Unemployment Fund for the payment of living stipends to unemployed Nigerians until such persons secured employment. Resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a motion sponsored by former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, PDP, Enugu West.
Ekweremadu, who brought the motion to the floor through Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate standing rules, lamented that the large number of graduates from institutions of higher learning in the country annually without jobs was a time bomb waiting to explode. Presenting the motion, Ekweremadu cited a report published by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS in 2019, which put Nigeria’s unemployment rate at 23.1 per cent.
Also quoting the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige, Ekweremadu said the unemployment rate would hit 33.5 per cent by 2020. He said: “Any nation with such number of unemployed but employable youths is only sitting on a keg of gun powder. “The most pressing demand of every legislator and public officer is the rising number of curriculum vitae and application for employment from Nigerians.
“A situation where every school graduate has to queue up for job only in government offices is an indication of the breakdown of the private sector which is the major driver of world economies.” According to him, unemployed Nigerian youths with potential talents lying idle and wasting away are usually misdirected toward many unprofitable and harmful ventures and lifestyles. He said the most active percentage of the nation’s population was forcibly being kept away from participating in the economic development of their fatherland and could not, therefore, contribute to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
Attributing the high level of crime in any society to high rate of unemployment, Ekweremadu noted that unemployment remained one of the major causes of upsurge in rural-urban migration which put pressure on facilities in urban centres. He expressed concerns at the large number of graduates churned out by various institutions of higher learning on annual basis who could not be absorbed by the labour. Market. “Report published by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2019 states that Nigeria’s unemployment rate stood at 23.1 per cent of the workforce in the third quarter of 2019. “Statement credited to the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Sen. Chris Ngige, showed that Nigeria’s unemployment rate will hit 33.5 per cent by 2020. “Any nation with such number of unemployed, but employable youth population, is only sitting on a keg of gunpowder.
“Unemployment is one of the major reasons insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, cyber crimes and other vices are on the increase “Various intervention programmes by successive governments targeted at reducing youth unemployment and eradicating its co-traveler, poverty, have not yielded the desired results,’’ he said. In her contribution, former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, PDP, Ekiti South, who called for a state of emergency on unemployment, said if serious action was not taken to solve the problem, it could swallow everyone. She said the neglect of the agricultural sector has really contributed to unemployment in the country, stressing that women were the most affected.
On his part, Senator Smart Adeyemi, APC, Kogi West, described unemployment as a serious national problem affecting everybody directly or indirectly. He said: “This is an issue we must all take very seriously by proffering solutions as to how we should reduce unemployment in our country.” He said the Iron and Steel Complex, Ajaokuta, in Kogi State alone was capable of employing over 25, 000 people, lamenting only less than 500 were currently absorbed by the company. While describing unemployment as an issue beyond the Federal Government, Adeyemi said states should be encouraged to set up small scale businesses for citizens to check unemployment. Adeyemi, who noted that banks have contributed immensely to the problem of unemployment in the country, said: “They (banks) refuse to give facilities to small scale industries.
Graduates are roaming the streets; some of them have ideas as how to be self-employed but the facilities are not just there for them.” He, however, called for a blueprint to encourage young graduates to be self-reliant. Similarly, Sen.Istifanus Gyang, PDP, Plateau North, said the menace of unemployment in the country was capable of resulting in despondency, helplessness and hopelessness among youths. Calling on government to declare a state of emergency on the unemployment situation in the country, Gyang said: “This is so that all hands would be on deck and deliberate steps taken to ensure that we rescue the generation of Nigerian youths that are in this state of trauma, despondency and helplessness.
“It will require such sectors as agriculture, with potentials to generate a lot of employment opportunities. Such sectors should attract attention at the policy level and as a deliberate effort of government.” Also in his contribution, Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi, APC, Ekiti North, decried the inability of the private sector to address the escalating number of unemployed persons in the country, lamenting that government on the other hand, lacked the capacity to create jobs. Resolutions of the Senate were unanimously adopted after a voice vote by the President, Ahmad Lawan.
By Henry Umoru,