by Toba Agboola,
Some 18,919 persons lost their jobs in the public sector between October 2015 and March 2016, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said.
About 10,155 were sacked in the federal, state and local governments’between last October and December; 8,764 others were fired between January and March.
The Bureau, which reported a decline of 84.1 per cent in employment generation, against the figure in the last quarter of 2015, said only about 79,469 jobs were generated in the first three months of 2016, against about 499,521 created during the corresponding period of 2015.
The agency said in its quarterly job creation survey, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that the figure was reduced by 420,052.
On jobs created in the first quarter, the Bureau said about 21,477 jobs came from the formal sector, consisting professional services with less than 10 employees, while about 60,026 jobs came from the informal sector, made up of mainly low skill and low-paying blue-collar jobs in agriculture, light manufacturing, wholesale and retail businesses.
With the recession, analysts said the unemployment situation would likely worsen, except the government took steps to spend on strategic capital infrastructure to reflate the economy.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Ayuba Wabba, said the concern of the union was on how the government could create new jobs for young Nigerians who are the most-affected by the crisis.
Wabba said the best way forward was for the government to ensure manufacturers continued to access raw materials and produce.
Most manufacturers, he said, found it difficult to survive.
“Many of them have closed. They cannot afford the cost of raw materials, because of the difficulty in accessing foreign exchange (FOREX) and the pressure from the free fall of the Naira,” he said.
He said the government must ensure forex was channelled to manufacturers to enable them import raw materials.
On recession, he said the best way was for the government to make money available to drive economic activities.
“The government can also establish modular refineries to ensure money used for the importation of petroleum products would be saved and used to develop the economy, by providing the infrastructure required to drive productive economic activities to create jobs for the people,” he said.
President, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Mr Larry Etta, said declining employment figures in an economy in recession was not surprising, as firms were closing shop and reducing their workforce amid declining gross domestic product (GDP) and high inflation.
“Decline in employment is to be expected in a recession. With companies’ profits declining, their retrenchment of workers, and not hiring to replace them, the figure will keep going down,” he said.
Etta said there was a need for more jobs to be created, adding that the government ought not to look at itself as the only one to provide jobs.
His words: “How many people can the government employ? Government has to create the enabling environment that allows industry to thrive.
“This must be an environment that allows industry to create employment. So, it’s very critical that such an environment is created and it can only be created when there is monetary policy stability; when there is fiscal growth; when there is infrastructural facilities in the country.
“That environment is also created when there is improvement in security in the environment itself in which case people have more confidence to transact business. So those are the things we should be looking for.”
He said both the 2016 budget and spending and the 2017 budget exercise would have to address the indices of growth, such as fiscal and monetary policies.
“I would also add a point about the mortality rate. I know lots of figures have been bandied by various bodies because NACCIMA has given its own statistics and so has MAN. But one thing is that, whether we agree with the numbers or not, the signals are clear and the evidence before our eyes shows that unemployment is increasing, and from what we heard in the last release from NBS, unemployment has actually increased significantly,” Etta said.
“It just goes to show that there are lots of works to be done because even among those who are employed, some are underemployed.
“So there are a lot of work to be done. But that work cannot be done by government alone becuase it has a duty to create an environment that encourages private sector to become the engine of growth,” Etta said