ORGANISED Labour and employers in Nigeria have rejected latest reports by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, NBS, that unemployment rate in the country has fallen by 4.1 per cent, describing the report as a fraud.
Organised labour contended that the report was a far cry from the reality on the ground, warning that with such reports, the NBS could lose its credibility.
A senior official of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, told Vanguard that NBS simply rebased the employment template to get a lower figure for unemployment, saying “this is not helpful as it may undermine the credibility of NBS’ work in the future.”
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak publicly on the issue, said: “The fact is that any statistical data that is not truly representative of the facts on ground loses its validity.
”We know that unemployment figure in Nigeria cannot be falling when the reality is that we have factories that are closing and leaving the country because of difficult operating environment.
“You then ask yourself, where are the new jobs that have absorbed the thousands of graduates that are entering the labour market annually?
“The truth is that rebasing the employment template in order to get a lower figure for unemployment is not helpful as it may undermine the credibility of NBS’ work in the future.
“We sincerely suggest that figures or statistics dished out to Nigerians can only achieve its purpose when it aligns with the objective realities on the ground, no matter how bitter it may be.
“The idea that anybody that earns N1000 a week is in an employment smacks of attempts at gerrymandering the unemployment rate to cover the inability of the state to perform its responsibilities to the economy and Nigerians.
”In all, we may not accept that figure until we conduct due diligence on the process that led to this outcome.”
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Also reacting, the General Secretary of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, Prince Peter Adeyemi, said: “I am one of those who rely on NBS for accurate data but I strongly doubt this latest report that unemployment has reduced by 4.1 percent in the first quarter of 2023.
“There is practically nothing to support this position. Rather, I think the rate of unemployment has increased.
“Don’t forget that the first quarter of 2023 was the period of our elections in Nigeria where politicians used the youths and the unemployed to advance their various political activities.
“Those are temporary engagements that cannot be classified as gainful employments. The federal, state and local governments need to do more in the area of jobs creation.”
Similarly, President, National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, John Adaji, said: “It depends on the source of their information and the sectors they are looking at.
“But as far as the manufacturing sector is concerned and textile in particular, we have witnessed more job losses and even notices of redundancy and closure from some of the factories.
“I think we should be careful not to politicize critical issue as employment.
“We must resist the temptation to give wrong impression that we are making progress when in actual fact we are not, as far as issue of employment is concerned.
“We have a new government which part of its renewed hope agenda is to create jobs. Industrialization remains the sure means of creating sustainable jobs for the teeming unemployed in the country. The new government must support revival of labour intensive textile and garment industry.”
Also, the Deputy President of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, Dr Tommy Okon, said: “We don’t know how they generate their data, especially in Nigeria where we have dearth of data.
“Manufacturing companies are not employing because they are struggling to stay afloat, Federal Government has not employed and so many people are turned out from tertiary institutions and passed out of NYSC and secondary schools across the country.
“I think government agencies should stop covering up and cooking up data for whatever reason. It is a known fact that the unemployment situation in the country is increasing on a daily basis and we cannot pretend about it.”
On the employers’ side, Executive Secretary of Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Employers’ Federation, CAMPEF, Femi Oke, said: “Some sectors of the economy may be growing but the manufacturing sector is not growing because of the numerous challenges it is facing.
“These include foreign exchange, removal of fuel subsidy, increase in electricity tariff, multiplicity of taxes etc.
“We are experiencing poor capacity utilization and shutting down some operations. This is leading to job rationalisation and losses.
“The government should focus on how to improve the manufacturing sector because they are the largest employer of labour.”
‘Harsh business environment ‘
Meanwhile, the National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Products Employees, NUCFRLANMPE, has decried the harsh business operating conditions in the country, saying it had lost no fewer than 20,000 members in the last one year.
President of the Union, Babatunde ‘Goke Olatunji, told Vanguard that the last one year had been terrible because of difficult business environment that had impacted negatively on the union’s membership.
He said: “The last one year has been terrible. Several of our member companies have been embarking on total closure. We have lost a lot of our members. Within the last year, we have lost over 20,000 workers.
“In a situation where the companies produce, there are no sales, among others, they have continued to ask more workers not to come to work.
“They cannot access foreign exchange, electricity supply has been erratic, the prices of diesel and fuel have gone out of reach for most companies.
“Those that are managing to stay afloat have joined the bandwagon of turning staff to casual workers.
“As we speak, casualisation is now everywhere. When employers say contract staff, it is equal to casual. When they say outsource, it is equal to casual staff.
“There are a lot of problems we are facing that have not been addressed. The earlier the government addressed them the better for everyone.”