Has the Buhari administration employed 8 million Nigerians in the last 3 years? | Opinion

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Updated: March 7, 2021


With the current ranking of Nigeria as the newest poverty headquarters in the world, and the fragile economy slowly making its way out of recession, one must admit that Nigeria is in a deep state of economic turmoil.

Recently, the National Bureau of Statistics slammed Nigeria with an unemployment rate of 23.1%. However, that is not the biggest scare, which is the number of underemployed Nigerians.

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This is because economic experts have long argued that Nigeria’s problem is more about underemployment.

An industry expert, Dr Yemi Kale, speaking to Africa Check, argued that Nigeria’s unemployment situation is really an issue of underemployment.

“Many job seekers tend to try their hands at low-skill, low-wage, non-full-time jobs, just to make ends meet in the absence of any unemployment benefits or social safety net system, ” he said, adding that it “tells policymakers the magnitude of the problem”.

Many job seekers tend to try their hands at low-skill, low-wage, non-full-time jobs, just to make ends meet in the absence of any unemployment benefits or social safety net system

But while the numbers of the underemployed Nigerians are higher, the rate of unemployment has been growing faster than the underemployment rate.

Nigeria’s latest unemployment data is fromJuly to September 2017. A total of 51.1 million people were estimated to be in full-time employment during that period, or working at least 40 hours a week.

The country’s unemployment rate stood at 18.8%, as Spectator Index had tweeted. It was the twelfth consecutive rise since the last quarter of 2014. (Note: Nigeria experienced a slowdown in economic growth from 2014 and entered into a recession in 2016, only exiting it in the second quarter of 2017.)

In absolute numbers, the number of people who were unemployed had increased to an estimated 15.9 million, while the underemployed were at about 18 million (21.2%).

Combined, 40% of the country’s labour force were therefore either underemployed or had no job. These are official stats from Africa Check.

Currently, most students are out of school due to the ASUU strike, howbeit, the biggest problem in the economy is the employment factor. While many have tagged employment to employability skills which translates to what a Nigeria Graduate can do beyond school, others have tagged it to learning vocational skills. On paper, Nigeria’s unemployment is 23.1%, adjudged to be one of the lowest in years from tradingeconomics.com.

The big question is where would young school leavers work after their lengthy years of study is over?

The Claim

For President Muhammadu Buhari, the biggest achievement of his tenure is the N-POWER and N-SIP Schemes. These Social Investment Schemes alongside Trademoni are avenues which his administration put in place to solve the issue of unemployment for the youths aged 18-35 which make 51% of the economy. In a statement attributed him from ThisDay, he said the Federal Government under the All Progressive Congress have employed over 8.75 million Nigerians under various social investment programmes. President Buhari giving the breakdown as thus said: seven million Nigerians were engaged under the N-power scheme which represented 70% of the beneficiaries, while 1.75 million others were recruited under the National Safety Net Programme for the poor and the vulnerable. ThisDay reports that this was contained in the President’s remarks at the 28th convocation and 36th Founders Day ceremony of the Federal University of Technology Minna, Niger State on Friday, on February 1, 2019.

Veracity of the claim- False

In a Vanguard Report of November 2016 titled “We have hired 200,000 graduates- FG, We are made to understand that the Government in 2016 were able to hire just 200,000 people. This corresponds to an investigative story by TheCable’s Taiwo Adebulu published this year 2019 which reads: “Undercover: Bribery, massive fraud sabotaging N-POWER Scheme.” In a statement credited to the report, it reads: “In 2016 when the N-Power programme began, 200,000 beneficiaries were selected and deployed to their primary place of assignment (PPA) out of about 700,000 Nigerian graduates who reportedly applied. However, several allegations arose from the exercise, ranging from absenteeism of the volunteers from PPAs, impersonation and fraudulent practices by officials handling the programme.”

Going further, in that same Vanguard Report of November 2016, an excerpt was quoted in a statement from the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo about the deployment of 200,000 unemployed graduates selected in the first batch of the Buhari administration whose ultimate objective is to hire half a million Nigerians.

However, exactly four months ago, Yemi Osinbajo disclosed that 500,000 graduates so far have been recruited under the Federal Government’s N-power programme. Osinbajo disclosed this at a conference tagged: Harnessing demographic dividend for sustainable development in Nigeria: The role of religious leaders, organised by the United Nations population fund in Abuja. This is culled from Legit NG in the headline: “VP Osinbajo says FG has recruited 500,000 graduates under N-power programme.” The story also goes further to prove that President Buhari was looking forward to employing half a million by virtue of the program.

Exactly November 13, 2018, Federal Government sought to expand the program but they chose to do so by increasing the quota by one million. In the same November 13, 2018 Vanguard Report titled, “FG to employ 1m people for N-Power” the Federal Government sought to expand the program due to the successes of the N-Power programme.

Claim Checked

President Buhari’s claim is wrong. Federal Government hasn’t yet expanded the program to benefit one million Nigerians yet. Federal Government only has 500,000 graduates so far as beneficiaries of the program. In his own eyes, Senator Chris Ngige has insisted Federal Government provided 8 million blue collar jobs.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, said this when addressing journalists at the ceremony to introduce the project of a specialist skill acquisition centre in Ifitedunu, Anambra State that the president Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government created over eight million jobs in less than three years. This is according to Pulse NG, in the year 2019.

He also explained that while these jobs that were created are mostly blue collar jobs, they are the jobs that make up most of the main hub of employment in the nation currently.

Ngige said that farming, carpentry, bricklaying, tiling and many others make up the blue collar jobs which the federal government is now using to save youths from joblessness which is caused by the lack of white collar jobs.

If Senator Chris Ngige is referring to the Npower programme, he is wrong. However, there has not been any place the Federal Government have provided jobs outside of Npower and their social intervention programmes.

Following the claim that the Government has gotten 1.75 million recruited under the National Safety Net Programme for the poor and the vulnerable, the claim is also false. Though there has been no official report for 2019, the federal government said 300,000 poor and vulnerable households in Nigeria have benefited from its social protection programme in 2017. This is contained in the Leadership Newspaper report: “300,000 Benefit from Social Protection Programme In 2017 – FG.”

The Federal government had in 2016, established the social protection programme that allows poor and vulnerable Nigerians receive N5000 monthly – aimed at reducing poverty and ensuring inclusive growth where all Nigerians are part of the country’s development process.

The target is to provide access to 1 million poor households under the World Bank assisted expanded national social safety nets system yearly. But the project coordinator, Mrs. Temitope Sikaiye said only 300,000 households benefited in 2017.

In fact, the Government hasn’t done much in eroding unemployment in Nigeria. In 2007, youth unemployment was 9.85% and it shot up to 13.41% in 2017. 7.5 million Nigerians were employed in 2017 while only 77.55 million did something as explained in a Pulse Business Insider Report.

Further Research

Further Research has proved that the Npower program has not been truly viable as most Nigerians think. A cursory look through the three main divisons of Npower namely: N-power Volunteer Corps, N-power Knowledege, and N-power build via their website proves this. For N-power build, the program is yet to begin; for N-power Agro and Health, It still shows an error 404 page. N-power Creative has no apply button. Not to add the fact that Npower website is a site riddled with errors and very hard to log into, which makes it a wonder how applicants manage to use the site.

My thoughts

Nigeria has continually grappled with unemployment without any help or solution even from the social intervention programmes which have made unemployment unbearable and a constant norm in Nigeria. N-power has only empowered 500,000 graduates as beneficiaries of their scheme. None of the social enterprise schemes have done much to stop the poverty gap from widening or employment from increase.

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Joseph Olaoluwa | Today News Africa
Joseph Olaoluwa is an award-winning poet, journalist, scriptwriter, and social media manager. He tweets not too frequently @theminentmuyiwa. He can be reached on josephmuyiwah99@gmail.com

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