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Sunday, October 16, 2011

JONATHAN JOB CREATION AGENDA: MATTERS ARISING

          A visit to the web portal created by the National committee on job creation of the National economic management team tells one that 12 million job opportunities are needed now. It then asked you to contribute ideas on how jobs can be created. It goes further to tell you that 'together we can draw up a roadmap for gainful employment'. But, at no place did it tells you about how much the committee is contributing and how many jobs it created since coming into being. The truth of the matter is that the committee did not create any job apart from the few that member companies’ (like Dangote) created. The history of Nigerian government noise making about creating jobs did not start with this administration and certainly will not finished with it. Since the returned to democracy in 1999, the government of Obasanjo (for example) has promised to create millions of jobs as well as pulled millions out of poverty. But at the end, it turned out that Obasanjo government has failed to deliver on it promise and instead created millions of poverty stricken families. The number of unemployed in Nigeria has been increasing since then, not showing sign of coming down despite the noise from the present administration and the one before it. Increases crime rate and incidences of kidnappings are proves of government failure to create jobs for the teaming youth roaming the streets, particularly the unemployed graduates with nothing to do other than revert to thievery. In an economy crippled by lack of electric power, bad roads, insecurity, high interest and exchange rates, and lack of foreign investment, it beat imagination to talk of creating jobs out of the blues. 


      Sometimes Nigeria is good at ‘copy-copy’. Because the current passion among the developed and emerging economies of the world (after the devastating global economic Tsunami of 2008) is job creation, Jonathan government too do not want to be left behind. Hence, the current job creation news stories, even though those behind it knew that no meaningful jobs will be created at the end. In a recent special report by the Economist magazine of London on unemployment around the world (The future of jobs, September 10, 2011), the author argued that due to the current nature of unemployment globally, the number of jobless people is going to remain high in rich countries and falls in poor countries. Indeed this is what is happening in places such as China, India and even Vietnam. The survey goes on to look at the job markets in the so-called BRIC economies as well as in Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and Latin America. On how government can help create jobs, the survey argues that it should set its policies right and help in creating entrepreneurs and start ups. In no place did it mention throwing money at such projects like National ID card (which at the end will not be produced in Nigeria) or creation of zombie ministries and parastatals that end up eating the government budget. Some of the high jobs creating sectors like manufacturing, agriculture and mineral resources that help countries like Brazil and China to create millions of jobs are dead in Nigeria. While the survey is of the view that unemployment is going to fall in poor countries, here in Nigeria we are stuck in a situation of rising jobless rate created by poor government policies. The information technology industry that is credited with creating millions of jobs in India and the US is nowhere nearing becoming a reality in Nigeria. Instead, we are left with an arm load of Yahoo-Yahoo boys who continue to batter the image of this country around the world. 

  
      While our next door neighbor (Ghana) has created million of jobs in the last few years as well as poaching Nigeria talents and companies, we were left with schedules of conferences and tea parties on how to create jobs. Of course, Ghana has put in place most of the things needed to create jobs, hence the successes in their job creation programs. For example, their democracy is working not like ours known for all kind of rigging, they have electric power in abundance, better roads, political stability as well as better macroeconomic fundamentals. Look at Kano, for instance, out of over one thousand industries established in the state only about hundred are working. But instead of coming to Kano’s Sharada, Bompai or Challawa industrial estates to see for himself our President was busy holding conferences in his Aso rock villa on how to create things that did not exist? Mr. Jonathan and his economic management team shall be informed that the jobs he promised since coming into power are nowhere to be filled.  To a jobless Nigerian on the street, all these talks about creating jobs are failed dreams. And if you were in doubt, ask jobless Nigerians in the labour market. But despite the grim statistics, there are hopes. If Jonathan will focus a bit more on generating power, building of good roads, provision of security, creation of genuine democratic space as well as put the enabling macroeconomic environment in place the sky is the limit for his job creation agenda.