Unemployment: Experts urge Nigerians to embrace agric, value chains


Some concerned citizens in Ibadan have called on Nigerians to embrace agriculture and value its chains to reduce unemployment and underemployment induced by COVID-19 pandemic.

They made the call in separate interviews in Ibadan on Tuesday, soliciting a holistic solution to unemployment rate in the country.

Prof. Clement Kolawole, an educationist, said that the percentage of unemployment had increased in recent times, quoting a report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

He stated that this was because of the damaging effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said had caused to the economy of the world.

Kolawole, who is also a Chairman School Governing Board of Estate High School, Bashorun said: “What the statistics has shown is the need to draw our attention to the need for us as a people and government to take steps that will mitigate the impact and help to redirect our economic activities.

“These steps would be towards what will take our people out of the quagmire and put them on the part of creating opportunities for employment.

“One way by which we can collectively redirect our efforts towards employment generation is agriculture and its value chains.

“Whether there is white collar job or not, people, irrespective of gender, social status, height and what have you, eat; and would look for and buy what will help them to meet their needs in terms of feeding.

“Government should, therefore, make agriculture attractive to youths and put structures in place to ensure that products from such ventures do not waste.

“In addition, other means of promoting small scale industries and self employment for able-bodied youths should be created and made available to those who genuinely want to work.

“The efforts being made by the government and other entrepreneurs should be intensified. Government alone cannot solve the problem of underemployment in the country.”

Also, Prof. Oyesoji Aremu, the Chairman, Education Management Board, of the Nigeria Baptist Convention, said that the challenge of unemployment in recent times arising from “the so-called new normal motivated by COVID-19 is not only disturbing, it is also unprecedented”.

Aremu, the immediate past Director, Distance Learning, University of Ibadan, said that the impact of this would be generally huge and enormous on families and the nation at large.

“The economic meltdown and crises of COVID-19 have also left millions of youths worse off.

“The unemployment rate in Nigeria in the report of the National Bureau of Statistics, especially in the second quarter of 2020 was 27.1 per cent.

“This translates to more than 20 million Nigerians who remain unemployed. This excludes those who are underemployed.

“The report from the NBS has implications for social and economic security, especially for the teeming youth who may resort to self-help.

“It is also not healthy for the country’s development as it portends some grievous indicators to national psyche,” Aremu said.

He noted that the way forward among other things, required some social re-engineering and less emphasis on paper certifications/qualifications.

“Governments at all levels would have to develop strategic plans to continually checkmate the rising figures of youths who graduate from higher institutions of learning by putting in place strategies for cottage industries and vocational skills.

“It will also not be out of place if social schemes are developed to help the youth.

“On the part of our youths, they need to develop critical thinking skills and job-search efficacy to confront the menace of unemployment in the country,” Aremu said.

A financial consultant in Ibadan, Mr Tunji Adepeju, said that the unemployment rate could not but increase, especially in 2019 and 2020.

Adepeju the Chief Executive Officer, Projektlink Konsult Ltd., Ibadan, said that young people from 15 years  to 64 years used by NBS had self-inflicted reasons for not being employed or under-employed.

He identified some of the reasons as preference for white collar jobs in financial institutions, oil and gas and civil service.

“Financial institutions are battling with bad loans arising from exposure to oil and gas companies that are under pressure from international market problems.

“Many states are in the state of bankruptcy following dwindling federal account monthly allocations and low internally generated revenue.

“They do not have enough to settle emoluments of current staff, hence they may be unable to employ fresh people.

“Many Nigerians in the said age-grade consider the option of being Start-up Entrepreneurs too risky to venture into.

“The younger ones want quick money rather than work for a sustainable future. This leads them to other businesses that may not be captured by NBS,” he observed.

Adepeju stated that many youths prefer to travel abroad seeking greener pastures where they could do odd jobs which they considered degrading if offered the same opportunities in Nigeria.

Speaking on the way forward, he identified reorientation of value systems in the society, acquisition of skills outside and in addition to academic skills.

Adepeju said that unemployed people should go into agriculture and agri-business, adding that there were opportunities in value-addition to agricultural and mineral resources available in Nigeria

“It is better to be under-employed than being unemployed. So the currently unemployed should take up available jobs while searching for better opportunities,” he said.(NAN)

– Aug. 20, 2020 @ 13:36 GMT |

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