Discussions around Nigeria’s unemployment situation has heightened in the last few years and, indeed, in the last few months. In January, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) projected in a report that the country’s unemployment rate will hit 37 percent in 2023. The report, which was titled “Nigeria in Transition: Recipes for Shared Prosperity,” revealed that Nigeria’s poverty headcount will also correspondingly rise to 45 percent. It was also stated in the report that the nation’s population growth, which was estimated at 3.2 percent, will lead to a decline in real per capita income. This is as a result of weak performance in the job-elastic sectors and low labor absorption of the growth-driving sectors.
Similarly, the GDP of the country was expected to moderate to 2.98 percent, revealing that economic growth will be subdued in 2023 due to strains on investment and low productivity in critical sectors. The report noted that the services sector will drive economic growth, which will not be strong enough to create significant jobs. As a result, the number of unemployed will remain persistent. Because of this, some experts on the economy have advised the Federal Government of Nigeria to tackle unemployment head-on using reforms.
Incoming administration urged to embrace right policies.
These financial experts spoke in interviews with the press in Lagos. They urged the incoming administration in particular to embark on reforms that will boost the country’s business climate to spur economic growth and tackle rising unemployment. One of these experts is Dr. Uju Ogubunka, a former executive secretary at the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria. He said that the incoming government should embrace economic policies that would improve the business operating environment in order to create more jobs.
He stressed the fact that the incoming administration should immediately address the uncertainties in the economy upon inauguration so that the issue of unemployment can be tackled. “More efforts should be made in addressing the structural challenges impeding inflow of foreign direct investment into our shores,” he said. The professional also remarked that the government must make efforts to reduce the issues relating to insecurity to the bare minimum. This will boost investors’ confidence in the economy.
Economics prof. said govt should support local production.
Dr. Ogubunka said the next administration should invest in strategic infrastructure that will create more job opportunities. For instance, investing more funds to fix electricity challenges is necessary to industrializing the economy. It will push the youth to innovate and create job opportunities in every sector of the economy. Another professional who spoke to the media is Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, Head of Department of Economics at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye. The professor said the government could tackle unemployment by supporting local production and discouraging importation.
Obviously, this is not just about banning the importation of certain items but creating a favorable environment for businesses to thrive. “Enhancing local production with the right fiscal and monetary policies is crucial to boost the economy,” Prof. Tella said. He said that this would not only boost businesses but would also lead to more employment opportunities for the teeming youth. He also mentioned that the government needs to subsidize electricity cost and raw materials for production. Doing this will naturally cause more businesses to spring up.
Incoming government should invest more in SMEs.
Finally, a former director of National Association of Small and Medium Enterprise, Mr. Nerus Ekezie, said that the incoming administration should tackle the issue by investing more in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). He said that regular dialogues between the government and various SME stakeholders are crucial for their expansion. These dialogues should include stakeholders in production as well as the service units. He also said granting tax holidays and foreign exchange for SMEs will enhance their business and create more opportunities.