By Jaye Gaskia
In the last one week, as the nation awaited the much trumpeted Nigeria’s frog leaping of the South African economy as a result of the rebasing of the GDP from 1990 to 2010; the regime and its spin doctors have been busy churning out figures concerning the state of the national economy.
The most recent, and the most untrue of these figures is the one put in the public domain by the coordinating minister of the economy and finance. According to her the nation has a backlog of 5.3 million unemployed people; additionally, 1.8 million youths enter the job market annually while the nation in the last year generated 1.6 million jobs through SURE – P and YOU WIN programs, leaving only a deficit of 200,000 jobless to add to the 5.3 million.
Now why is this such a blatant lie? Not just because no 1.6 million jobs were created in the last one year; but also because the number of unemployed is closer to 53 million than it is to 5.3 million. First, if 1.6 million jobs were created by YOU WIN and SURE-P, where are the jobs? In which sectors were these jobs created? Where is the register of those new jobs and job entrants? Secondly according to government’s own figures the unemployment rate is now more than 24% in the general population. What does this amount to in real terms? Furthermore among youths, according to the NBS, there are 69 million youths between the ages of 15 and 35 years; and of these 54% are out of work/unemployed. Now in concrete terms this means that amongst youths alone more than 35 million youths of the age bracket of 15 to 35 are out of job unemployed. If we add those who are unemployed and over 35 years old, then the figure is nearer 53 million people than it is 5.3 million people out of job. Perhaps the Minister is simply trying to be clever and deceive the populace by converting 53 million to 5.3 million persons?
What we require from this regime in particular and the treasury looting elites in general is honesty with figures, and a sense of accountability that makes them own up to their failures. An economy where capacity utilisation in industry has been below 40% for decades, and where the cost of doing business is one of the highest globally cannot be creating jobs; such an economy is shrinking and losing jobs.
This is why the very least that can be demanded of this ruling class is the institution of a social charter, the payment of unemployment benefits, and a practical plan of action to create jobs, primarily through massive investment in basic services and basic social infrastructures.
This is one more reason why we need to take collective action to Take Back Nigeria from the death grip of these pillaging bands of pirates.
Jaye Gaskia is on Twitter@jayegaskia