The Burden of Bad Economy

Mohammed Abubakar DG, NDE
Mohammed Abubakar DG, NDE

Although a lot of Nigerian youths look up to the National Directorate of Employment for assistance in getting jobs, the agency says it has no such capacity to get everyone employed

|  By Ishaya Ibrahim    |  Mar. 4, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

SEPTEMBER 1, 2012, was a day Adams Ogbole, an unemployed graduate, had looked forward to with optimism. He had been unable to secure any job since he finished his National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, scheme six years ago. The day brought for him fresh hope of having his desire fulfilled. But that optimism vanished when Ogbole, a mass communication graduate, got to the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos, venue of the aptitude test for employment into Thisday Newspaper. The 5,000-capacity auditorium was crowded with job seekers. That high number was just for the Lagos venue. A similar test also held simultaneously in Abuja, recording another high turnout.

Ogbole said his loss of faith was not because he had no confidence in his ability to excel in the aptitude test, but his spirit sank when he realised that the newspaper might eventually not employ more than 20 of the more than 10,000 applicants that turned up for the test all over the country.  To that extent, he felt his chance was too slim to give him hope.

This, perhaps, angered Ogbole, and many other unemployed youths like him to ask for the scrapping of the National Directorate of Employment, NDE, insisting that it has failed in its primary assignment to combat unemployment. Indeed, the NDE was established in 1989, to design and implement programmes to combat mass unemployment, especially among the youths. “The unemployment situation in this country is very high. I wonder what the NDE is set up to achieve. What the government should be thinking of is how to create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive. That is how to reduce unemployment and not setting up an agency that will even add to the high cost of governance,” Ogbole said.

The NDE’s objective among others include: obtaining and maintaining a data bank on employment and vacancies in the country with a view to acting as a clearing house to link job seekers with vacancies in collaboration with other government agencies and implementing any other policy as may be laid down for it by government.

In 2010, the NDE created an opportunity for young job seekers and unemployed graduates throughout the federation to become gainfully employed by providing free business training for them and also assisted them with grants to start their own businesses. The beneficiaries were selected after an assessment test was conducted. In some states, there were less than 100 beneficiaries of the programme. But this is a far cry considering the fact that 40 percent of the youthful population in Nigeria is unemployed.

Mohammed Abubakar, director general of the NDE, is of the view that the unemployment situation in the country is beyond what the NDE can handle. He argued that only the economy and not the NDE could produce the magic wand to tackle the unemployment. “Here, our industries are dead; the direct consequence is that unemployment develops. When your industries close, your workers cannot work. Remember that NDE is an interventionist programme.  If the economy of the country picks up, we may not need such interventionist agencies like the NDE anymore,” Abubakar said.

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