FEATURE ARTICLE

Thursday, February 13, 2020
ifeanyi_mmoh@yahoo.com
Abuja, Nigeria
How can the government create jobs without understanding unemployment?

am persuaded to think and therefore, to also say that the above question has disturbed and is still disturbing the minds of a great number of people within and aside the shores of this great federation called Nigeria. On this assertion, there is little doubt that it is true. And this is why I chose to dissect it in today’s commentary having allowed it to linger for a while now on my list of topics.

Before I go any further, it will be necessary for me to sell a definition I coined on unemployment. Unemployment, according to my weird definition is a reality thatbegins to exist when jobs are no longer created. And for this to happen, the human mind must’ve previously ceased to generate bankable ideas. In other words, it is a real situation which comes to existence the very minute bank ableideas on how or what to do to solve one human need or the other are not conceived anymore.

It is a known fact that every government agency, business empire or technological approach that once solved or is still solving the needs of mankind started with an idea which was conceived on a fertile human mind, believed and acted upon immediately. And if this is generally accepted, it translates then, to the fact that unemployment can only happen when ideas or solutions to a human problem are no longer conceived or believed.

The question nagging for an answer becomes: Are there no longer human wants to be solved? Or is themind of the average Nigerian no longer capable of conceiving bankable ideas that can create career opportunities? Or is it government’s laziness? A lack of technology? A lack of electricity? A lack of raw materials? Or even a lack of needed capital? If there are still human wants, why is unemployment statistically rife? Or are the stats lying?

Human wants havenever needed urgent solutions in any civilization than is happening in our days and bankable ideas that can create possible solutions as well as career opportunities have not been more forthcoming in any age than in the present age. The trouble is not even with contemporary civilization which has done more to turn ideas into realities than any other civilization ever did. It is neither a lack ofraw materials, electricity or needed technology.

Time will fail me if I insist that I’ll mention the several of Nigeria’s national assets that came into being because of a human want. Erstwhile Nigeria Airways, Nigeria Postal Service, the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government are all borne out of the need to solve one human want or the other and these as well as many others like them in the private sectors of the Nigerian economy are now opportunities for employment.

What the high rate of unemployment in the country today truly depicts is that both the federal, state and local government as well as the private sector lacked the will-power to continue to initiate ideas that are capable of providing solution to the numerous human wants of contemporary existence while providing employment for the unemployed; in the process. As the APC-led government boasts about lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty; it is necessary they understood what jobcreation required.

Since 2015, Nigeria has witnessed an onslaught against business establishments, under-funding of relevant government agencies responsible for the salaries of many and stringent multiple tax regimes that has compounded the dilemma of the average Nigerian ofproductive age. Just recently on February 1, 2020, the implementation of thenew VAT of 7.5% commenced and, you get the impression that even though government wanted to create jobs, it’s policies are destroying the existing ones.

Would it not have made sense if more jobs were created instead of increasing the VAT? This is the reason I urge that government needed to first understand what unemployment was in order to know what job creation entailed. A few years ago, following the inability of the Nigeria Telecommunication (NITEL) to generate returns on investment for government, there became the need to liberalize that sector.

And, it turned outthat the liberalization of the sector alone have created hundreds of directjobs as well as thousands of indirect jobs. That was an eye-opener which manybelieve should guide the government to do an overhaul in agencies like theNigeria Police, the electricity sector, the transport and the housing sectors. Insecuritytoday begs for more police personnel and jobs can be created while tacklinginsecurity.

The housing sector toocan generate thousands of direct jobs if government can initiate a property taxdesigned on the pay-as-the-rate-go basis to compel the greedy that monopolizedthe sector to relinquish these empty and un-rented properties to tenants. Thisway, the real estate agents, the solicitors who administer estates, therealtors and street hustlers will be engaged and be able to earn again.

What can thegovernment do to grow the rice industry? A price intervention on rice isurgently required if government would kill smuggling and unlock the potentialsof the homegrown brands! You see why government – in my humble opinion – cannotcreate jobs unless it understood unemployment? Why I felt that the NBSstatistics did more than just merely informing us about a 22% unemployment rate?

Tempers may haveflayed up as a result of the figure but does it not justify that the human mindin Nigeria is not living up to its natural expectation? And, if Nigeria’sexistence in this age of limitless opportunities still attracted an unfriendly unemploymentstatistics; what other evidence do we need to show that the employment generator(our mind) in us was sleeping and needed to be urgently awakened?

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