by Isi Esene
The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has recently released the 2011 unemployment data which reveals a wide dichotomy between states in the North and those in the southern part of the country.
According to the released data, the bottom ten in the jobless list are; Zamfara State with 42.6%; Bauchi, 41.4%; Niger, 39.4%; Gombe, 38.7%; Nasarawa, 36.5%, Jigawa, 35.9%; Edo, 35.7%; Yobe, 35.6%; Adamawa, 33.8%, and Kaduna with 30.3%.
Only Edo State with 35.7% unemployment rate is among the bottom ten states listed.
Osun State lead the employment levels list with 3.0%, followed by Kwara, 7.1%; Lagos, 8.3%, and Oyo, 8.9%.
The Nigerian population was put at 170m, and 70% of that figure are said to be within the ages of 17 and 65. It therefore means that the 23.9% data released by the NBS as the national unemployment rate reveals that 40.6m of working age Nigerians lack any form of employment whatsoever.
While reacting to the data released, an economist and former vice chancellor of the University of Uyo, Professor Akpan Ekpo said the data was not a true reflection of Nigeria’s unemployment rate. He posited that the figure would ideally be within the 35% and above range.
He said, “Even that 23.9% is alarmingly high; the manageable unemployment rate and acceptable rate is 5%. Government hasn’t told Nigerians the percentage of the underemployed, the graduates who are selling sachet water and recharge cards. Government must urgently step up effort in this direction.”
According to the Leadership Newspapers, a top NBS staff who did not want to be named, said it would reflect bad governance if a government agency releases a higher unemployment figure.
He said, “There is no way NBS, being a government agency, would have posted a more alarming unemployment rate than the 23.9 %. That would mean that government has failed in this direction. Such data can only be authentic if an independent statistician is contracted to collate.”
The professor’s comment reflects the long held suspicion that Nigeria’s successive government have continuously toyed with statistic data to achieve selfish political ends.