On Thursday, the National Bureau for Statistics (NBS) released their usual report, which seemed to generate myriads of hullabaloo and horse trading in our already much heated polity. This time, they titled it “Nigeria Labour Force Statistics Report Q4 2022 & Q1 2023”.
synopsis of this report is that during the period under review, unemployment rate in Nigeria has miraculously somersaulted to a down low of 4.1 per cent from the 33 per cent or so that has lingered for a while.
While trying to operationalise or simply put, justify this miracle, they postulated that there is a change in methodology applied to get this result. In their own view, any person who is able to work for an hour in a week is deemed to be employed. This according to them is the position of International agencies such as the International Labor Organization (ILO).
To put this in simple or proper perspective, the definition of unemployment in Nigeria is where persons that are willing and able to work are able to do any kind of work for at least an hour in a while, which mathematically could also mean four hours in a month. This means that if a plumber or a mechanic is able to pull up a work that pays him N1, 000 or N2, 000 in the whole week, he is not qualified to be on the unemployment data of the NBS. This is really difficult to decipher.
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Another problem I have with this whole charade is the integrity of this report. As a researcher, I am tempted to ask about the sample and the sample size used to come up with this conclusion. This is a country of more than 200 million people and as a recruiter, I can say with a reasonable degree of certainty that the number of people in the employability category will be at least 80 million if not more. I think the NBS will have to take this conversation further by explaining to us the sampling technique and the sample size calculator used to arrive at this. I think this will help to strengthen the integrity/acceptability or otherwise of this report.
Having established the above, it is pertinent for NBS and other similar agencies to understand that social problems like poverty, unemployment, crime etc. cannot be measured by just clicks on computer mouse or powerpoint presentations. These issues are more real and practical than they think or imagine.
The twin problems of poverty and unemployment are issues we have constantly grappled and battled with, and it will be a sheer act of deception to posit that these problems are going down. As a matter of fact, you see these issues in every nook and cranny of the society. All you need to do is to take a walk on your street and creeks, and you will surely see poverty visible on the land. The menace of unemployment requires no definition nor explanation in Nigeria.
NBS must wake up from the illusion. The reality is different from what they are pushing. It amounts to high level mockery when someone comes out and declares these paltry figures at a time when job losses and redundancy has become the order of the day. These are trying times for the average Nigerian as people are now resorting to stringent austerity measures to ameliorate the hardship occasioned by the current social crisis and it is highly insensitive for any agency of the government to come up with cooked, frivolous, flippant, waggish, glib and facetious figures in the name of unemployment rate. The data lacks integrity, sensitivity and it negates the principles of humanity and social justice.
Victor Kwambuge, PhD [email protected]