•More people to lose jobs, firms to shut down as MAN, LCCI, others react
By Charles Adegbite, Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti, Bimbola Oyesola, Isaac Anumihe,
Adewale Sanyaolu, and Chinwendu Obienyi
The Nigerian economy is the worst in 29 years, the data released yesterday by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), a government agency, has revealed.
In the report, unemployment rate is 19.3% while inflation stands at 17.1%. They were as a result of higher food prices and rising energy bills.
More Nigerians are out of jobs while the disposable income has nose-dived, says the report that covered the first half of this year.
According to the report, many graduates now embrace menial jobs to keep body and soul together. Many companies are closing shop as the Naira loses value everyday. Goods and services cost more than what many Nigerians can afford. The economy is probably the worst in 29 years, going by the data released yesterday.
In the report, there were a total of 26.06 million people who were either unemployed or underemployed during the review period compared to 24.5 million last year.
However, in spite of the gloom, the Presidency said the economy performed better than what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had predicted for Nigeria this year.
The NBS said about 1.46 million Nigerians became unemployed in the third quarter of 2015, while another 518,102 were jobless in the fourth quarter of that year, bringing the total number of freshly unemployed persons to a record high of 4,580,602, since the inception of the Buhari administration.
In this year’s second quarter, the NBS said the unemployment rate grew.
“During the reference period, the number of unemployed in the labour force increased by 1,158,700 persons, resulting in an increase in the national unemployment rate,” the NBS said.
“In view of this, there were a total of 26.06 million persons in the labour force in Q2 2016, that were either unemployed or underemployed compared to compared to 24.5 million in Q1 2016 and 22.6 million in Q4 2015.
“The economically active population or working age population (persons within ages 15- 64) increased from 106 million in Q1 2016 to 106.69 million in Q2 2016, the report added.
Underemployment was also on the rise with 15.4 million Nigerians said to be jobless.
“The number of underemployed in the labour force (those working but doing menial jobs not commensurate with their qualifications or those not engaged in full-time work and merely working for few hours) increased by 392,390 or 2.61%, resulting in an increase in the underemployment rate to 19.3 % (15.4 million persons) in Q2 2016 from 19.1% (15,02 million persons) in Q1 2016, 18.7% (14.42 million persons) in Q4 2015, from 17.4% (13.2 million persons) in Q3 2015 and 18.3% (13.5 million persons) in Q2 2015,” the NBS said.
There were a total of 26.06 million persons in the Nigerian labour force in Q2 2016, that were either unemployed or underemployed compared to compared to 24.5 million in Q1 2016 and 22.6 million in Q4 2015.
Reacting, the Presidency said the economy, which is in recession, is performing better than the IMF’s predictions, admitting that the inflation and unemployment rates in the country had remained “stubbornly high” despite government’s efforts.
In a statement, the Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, while reacting to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures for the 2016 second quarter by the NBS said the report, which confirmed a temporary decline, has also indicated what he called hopeful expectation in the economic trajectory. According to him, there were clear indications that the second half of the year will be better. He blamed the economic downturn on falling oil prices and vandalisation of pipelines.
“Besides the growth recorded in the agriculture and solid mineral sectors, the Nigerian economy in response to the policies of the Buhari presidency is also doing better than what the IMF had estimated with clear indications that the second half of the year would be much better,” he said.
In his reaction, Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, urged the President to listen to the cries of Nigerians and stop seeing those with opinions different from his own as threats to his hold on power.
“The reality our President must face now is that there is hunger in the land. Nigerians are hungry, they are suffering and the President should rather listen to those who are more knowledgeable than him in terms of management of the country’s economy instead of seeing them as threats,” he said in a statement issued by his aide, Mr. Lere Olayinka.
“A bag of rice that was less than N8,000 when President Buhari assumed office is now over N20,000! How can a civil servant that is earning N18, 000 minimum wage survive when his monthly salary cannot buy one bag of rice,” he queried.
Also reacting, the General Secretary, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Dr. Peter Eson-Ozo, urged the Federal Government to develop a policy that will address the increasing rate of youth unemployment. He made the call in Abuja yesterday.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has predicted that global youth unemployment rate will rise by 13.1 per cent at the end of 2016 and 2017 from 12.9 per cent at the end of 2015.
Eson-Ozo said the global unemployment projections were gloomy, adding that the situation in Nigeria might even be gloomier.
“This is because the way things are now, given all the economic parameters, we are actually faced with a situation in which the unemployment rate in Nigeria will continue to rise,” he noted.
National Vice President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Asiwaju Solomon Kayode Onafowokan, said the economic recession and the attending hardship would continue this year unless the Federal Government quickly evolves palliative measures.
He told Daily Sun that the nation witnessed the economic recession at the beginning of the first quarter of this year and has continued.
“Unless something is done urgently the hardship will continue till the end of the year because the third quarter is already going” he said.
“It is either we get enough raw materials to produce or we don’t have enough materials and we have to reduce the numbers of workers by between 35 and 50 out of about 500 that we have. That is the trend all over” he added?
Onafowokan, who is the Chairman of Chellarams PLC and Yodeson Group of Companies said, “If government is serious it has to do something urgently, otherwise we may have nothing to rely on.
Reacting to the alarming number of 4.58 million workers reported to have lost their jobs in one year, with rising inflation of 17.1 percent, President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Jacobs, lamented that the sector, which is the engine room of the economy has been the worst hit by the recession with over 58 of its members shutting down in the last one year.
He said, “The economy is in worst state and unless something is done, most of our members will close down. We are plagued with several challenges, really, we are in a dire situation, which I believe that nobody is happy about it.
“I agreed with the statement, it is a fact, the unemployment has risen tremendously and the same for the inflation, it’s the worst in recent time, the 17.1% is not good. The reprisal effect on an average Nigerian standard of living is outrageous.”
Also, Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Mr. Muda Yusuf, said the statistics released by NBS has made it official that the country is in a recession given the fact that Nigeria has recorded another negative growth.
He said the statistics are the manifestations of what the economy has been going through in the last one year, confirming that the economy is in crisis.
At the moment, he said a lot of organisations were finding it difficult to meet their financial obligations as a result of recession.
But having been in recession officially, he said the country must begin to take proactive steps that would gradually bring it out of recession and turn the situation around by stimulating and mobilizing investments.
Meanwhile, a development economist, Mr. Odilim Enwegbara, acknowledged that recession is bad for any economy and that Nigeria won’t be an exception.
He said: “You have to address the problem head-on and to do that, we need to bring the people who are old enough to find noble and unconventional solutions to economic problem. They should bring in men and women who can think out of the box. The problem is that we are using conventional solution for an unconventional problem and we cannot find the solution.
“The President has to be bold enough to bring in men and women and put them somewhere to find a solution to the problem and they will find it. The problem is that they will sit down in their offices, carrying textbooks and they want to solve the problem. They cannot solve it like that.”
According to him, “the first thing Mr. President has to do is to take away the monetary policy from the so-called technocrats since the problem is beyond technocratic solution.”