How to Tackle Unemployment in Nigeria
Reforms necessary to tackle unemployment, poverty – Chief Economic Adviser
There is need for economic reforms to tackle the problems of unemployment and poverty in the country says Dr. Nwanze Okidegbe, Chief Economic Adviser to the President.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Friday, he said that while the economic fundamentals of the country are very strong there are the problems of unemployment and poverty. He however, expressed optimism that these problems can be significantly reduced with the right economic reform measures. He said the federal government in recognition of this is implementing various reforms to reduce unemployment and the country’s poverty rate.
He said, “I can tell you that the economic fundamentals of Nigeria are sound. Since 2004 the economy has been growing averaging about seven per cent. Our foreign exchange reserve is going up. Our debt burden is very manageable, better than that of most countries in the world.
Inflation rate is about 11 to 12 per cent depending on what you use. If you use year-on-year, it is about 12 per cent, if you use the past 11 months and it is tilting down. Our foreign exchange rate is relatively stable. In fact in 211 our economy grew by 7.3 per cent, which is the third highest in the world. So if you look at these fundamentals, you will say our economy is doing very well.
But that does not mean we don’t have challenges. We do have challenges. One of our biggest challenges is unemployment. Mr. President is very concerned about this. He told me that he is not concerned about the per cent age our economy grows, but he is concerned about making sure that every Nigeria that wants to work is has a job. So unemployment is a major challenge. As you know, every year about 1.8 Million Nigerians enter the job market and the economic is creating jobs but it is not enough to ensure that every Nigeria has a job.
And the other challenge we face is poverty. One would expect that given the rate our economy is growing and given that we are still an agrarian society because about 42 per cent of our GDP is agriculture and agriculture is growing at about 5.0 per cent and our population is growing at about 3.0 per cent.
One would expect that given those kind of data, our poverty rate would be going down. But it has not happened that way and Mr. President is concerned about making sure that our poverty rate goes down”
He said the federal government is already working to address the problem of unemployment and poverty.
“But to do that reforms are needed and these reforms are ongoing. The aim of these reforms is to provide an enabling environment for the private sector because the private sector creates more sustainable jobs. So whether it is ‘ease of doing business’, because Nigeria has not fared well in the past, there are reforms to make sure that it is easier for businesses to set shop or exit id they want to exit. We recognized that power is important in the economic mix and a lot of work is being done to make sure we significantly fit power.”
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