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The NBS unemployment data is a forgery, according to Labour and employers.



ORGANISED Labour and employers in Nigeria have denied recent reports by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, NBS, that the country’s unemployment rate has reduced by 4.1%, calling the data a forgery.

The report, according to organised labour, was a far cry from reality on the ground, and the NBS risked losing trust with such reports.

A senior official of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, told Vanguard that the NBS merely rebased the employment template to obtain a lower unemployment statistic, adding that “this is not helpful as it may undermine the credibility of NBS’ work in the future.”

“The fact is that any statistical data that is not truly representative of the facts on the ground loses its validity,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to comment publicly on the subject.

“We know that the unemployment rate in Nigeria cannot be falling when factories are closing and leaving the country due to a difficult operating environment.”

“You then wonder, where are the new jobs that have absorbed the thousands of graduates who enter the labour market each year?”

“The truth is that rebasing the employment template to obtain a lower unemployment figure is not helpful because it may undermine the credibility of NBS’ work in the future.”

“We sincerely believe that figures or statistics disseminated to Nigerians can only serve their purpose when they align with objective realities on the ground, no matter how bitter.”

“The notion that anyone earning N1000 per week is employed smacks of attempts to gerrymander the unemployment rate to cover the state’s inability to perform its responsibilities to the economy and Nigerians.”

“Overall, we may not accept that figure until we conduct thorough investigation into the process that resulted in this outcome.”

In response, Prince Peter Adeyemi, General Secretary of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, stated, “I am one of those who rely on NBS for accurate data, but I strongly doubt this latest report that unemployment has decreased by 4.1 percent in the first quarter of 2023.”

“There is almost nothing to support this position.” Rather, I believe the unemployment rate has risen.

“Remember that the first quarter of 2023 was the period of our elections in Nigeria, during which politicians used the youths and unemployed to advance their various political activities.”

“Those are temporary positions that cannot be considered gainful employment.” The federal, state, and local governments must do more to create jobs.”

Workers in the textile industry
Similarly, John Adaji, President of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, stated: “It depends on their source of information and the sectors they are looking at.”

“However, in the manufacturing sector, and particularly in the textile sector, we have seen more job losses and even notices of redundancy and closure from some of the factories.”

“I believe we should be cautious not to politicise such a critical issue as employment.”

“We must resist the temptation to give the false impression that we are making progress when, in fact, we are not, in terms of employment.”

“We have a new government, and part of its renewed hope agenda includes job creation.” Industrialization remains the definite way to provide long-term work for the country’s vast unemployed. “The new government must encourage the revival of the labor-intensive textile and garment industries.”

Dr Tommy Okon, Deputy President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, added, “We don’t know how they generate their data, especially in Nigeria where we have a scarcity of data.”

“Manufacturing companies are not hiring because they are struggling to stay afloat, the federal government is not hiring, and so many people are dropping out of tertiary institutions and failing NYSC and secondary schools across the country.”

“I believe that government agencies should stop covering up and fabricating data for whatever reason.” It is a well-known reality that the country’s unemployment rate is rising on a daily basis, and we cannot pretend otherwise.”

On the employer side, Femi Oke, Executive Secretary of the Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Employers’ Federation, CAMPEF, stated, “Some sectors of the economy may be growing, but the manufacturing sector is not growing due to the numerous challenges it faces.”

“These include foreign exchange, the elimination of fuel subsidies, an increase in electricity tariffs, a plethora of taxes, and so on.”

“We are experiencing low capacity utilisation and have had to shut down some operations.” This is causing job cuts and rationalisation.

“Because the manufacturing sector employs the most people, the government should concentrate on how to improve it.”

‘Difficult business environment’
Meanwhile, the National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather, and Non-Metallic Products Employees, NUCFRLANMPE, has lamented the country’s hard commercial operating conditions, claiming that it has lost 20,000 members in the last year.

Babatunde ‘Goke Olatunji, President of the Union, told Vanguard that the last year had been horrible due to a challenging business environment that had negatively damaged the union’s membership.

“The last year has been terrible,” he remarked. Several of our member companies have declared bankruptcy. We’ve lost a lot of members. Over 20,000 people have been laid off in the last year.

“In a situation where companies are producing, but there are no sales, among other things, they have continued to ask more workers not to come to work.”

“They cannot access foreign exchange, electricity supply has been erratic, and diesel and fuel prices have risen beyond the reach of most businesses.”

“Those who are able to stay afloat have joined the bandwagon of converting employees to casual workers.”

“As we speak, casualisation is pervasive. When employers refer to contract employees, they are referring to casual workers. When they say outsource, they mean temporary workers.

“There are numerous issues that have yet to be addressed.” The sooner the government addresses them, the better.”

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