Is the Presidency seriously contesting the unemployment report?

On Wednesday, the NBS reported that the unemployment rate in Nigeria had risen to 23.1% in Q3 2018 compared to 18.8% in Q3 2017. And later that day, President Muhammadu Buhari claimed the data shows his administration is making progress.

The President made this claim in Abuja during a special dinner that was put together by beneficiaries of his Government’s Anchor Borrowers Scheme.

Meanwhile, as though confusing scientific data wasn’t enough, President Buhari also took a slight jab at his predecessor as always; talking about how he inherited an under-performing agriculture sector back in 2015. Note that while this may be true, at least the overall unemployment rate in 2015 was far lower compared to what currently obtains.

Disputing the data

The President Buhari-led Government may have been trying to misinterpret the unemployment report, which in all honesty, is unimpressive. The Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, said yesterday that the report was false, a claim that President Buhari’s media aid, Mallam Garba Shehu, reiterated.

Mallam Shehu even claimed that Nigeria’s Statistician General and CEO of the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, Mr Yemi Kale, had admitted that his agency’s latest report focused on white collar jobs and did not cover the agriculture sector.

But according to the Punch Newspaper, Mr Kale said he never made such an admission.

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So much talk about rice production and little result 

The Government has made so much claim in the past about the supposed success of its agricultural policies, particularly the Anchor Borrowers Scheme which it says “had created 12 million new jobs” and helped to increase rice production in the country and consequently led to a decline in rice importation.

But while this has always been a nice political statement, available information shows that it is, indeed, false. According to the United States Department of Agriculture World Markets and Trade, Nigeria has imported a total of three million metric tonnes of rice this year. The US report even showed that Nigeria’s rice production declined in 2018 compared to what obtained in 2015.

As expected, the Presidency refuted this as well. But that doesn’t even matter because the truth remains that the level of unemployment, poverty/suffering in Nigeria can easily be seen in the streets of Lagos and elsewhere.

Therefore, instead of disputing what really is a serious crisis, President Buhari and his team should use the remaining months of his first term in office to come up with viable policies that can ameliorate the suffering in the land.

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Author: see naija

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