NIGERIA has been warned that she needs to create about 19m new jobs a year if she wants to avoid a catastrophic economic meltdown that will result from the spiralling rise in unemployment which could precipitate social unrest.
With a population of 200m people, of which about 95% is below the age of 65, Nigeria is facing a chronic economic crisis. With the country currently reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic that has led to 27.1% unemployment, the population is growing at a rate of 2.6%, while the economy is suffering from negative growth.
Warning that this could all implode if something drastic is not done about it soon, Professor Doyin Salami, the chairman of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, said Nigeria needs to create 19m jobs yearly. Speaking at a webinar on privatisation organised by the Nigerian Stock Exchange in collaboration with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council, he added that there is currently not enough economic growth in the country.
Professor Salami said: “Right now, Nigeria’s economic challenge is a very significant and a potentially severe one. Our economy hasn’t performed well and we have seen so far this year a contraction in the economy and prospects are that for the rest of the year, the economy will continue to contract.
“If Nigeria’s economy is going to grow, investment is going to be at the heart of that growth. Up until now, our attention has typically been focused on the federal government especially in terms of the balance of its recurrent and capital spending.”
According to the foremost economist, Nigeria currently has an investment-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio of between 15% and 18%. Professor Salami noted that the rate of under-employment and unemployment in the Nigerian labour force stood at around 54% of the population.
He added: “If we are going to make any meaningful progress, we need an investment-to-GDP ratio that does not fall at any time perhaps over the next decade below 25% to 30%. So, no matter how we look at it, investment is going to be the fundamental catalyst for growth.
“When you look at it in terms of the youth element of our labour force, it is somewhere around 64%. More than half of Nigeria’s labour force is either unemployed completely or under-employed.”
With the spiralling rate of unemployment in the country, Nigeria has been plagued with insecurity as hapless youths resort to crime to survive. Kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery and terrorism have all been on the rise across Nigeria over recent years as the lack of opportunity has spurred an army of criminals.