Gov Udom And The High Rate Of Unemployment In Akwa Ibom – Franklyn Isong
I have read the detailed report of the third quarter of 2017 Labour Force Statistics of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which Akwa Ibom State is placed top among states with High Rate of unemployment and underemployment, despite the government boasts of job creation and industrialization policy in the year under review.
I have also read the state government’s reaction through the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Charles Udoh, rejecting the report, arguing that the NBS report under reported the state under the stewardship of Mr. Udom Emmanuel.
NBS came into being with the merger of the Federal Office of Statistics (FOS) and the National Data Bank (NDB).
The creation was part of the implementation of the Statistical Master Plan (SMP), a programme document of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).
The merger was to give the agency a national outlook as the apex statistical agency for all the three tiers of Government. NBS is expected to coordinate Statistical Operations of the National Statistical System in the production of Official Statistics in all the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), State Statistical Agencies (SSAs) and Local Government Councils (LGCs).
The Internal Organisation of the bureau is built on Statistics Act of 2007 which is the Legal Instrument established by the Acts of Parliament. In moving forward, it would be recalled that in the first quarter of 2017, that is; sometime in May 2017, the same NBS came up with a report that listed Akwa Ibom State as second after Lagos state as The Most Investors-friendly destinations in the country.
This report was not only accepted by Akwa Ibom government but was widely celebrated by it. The question many have asked is; ‘Why the state government accepted the earlier NBS report and turned around to reject the latter?’Put barely, the government accepted the former because it favoured her and rejected the latter because it does not favour her.
The NBS report only states the obvious. Of course, those living in the state can attest to it.
The rate of unemployment in Akwa Ibom is extremely high, which accounts to why majority of jobless youths are going into politics as the only means for survival.
The NBS report at my disposal says the figure of Akwa Ibom labour force population is 3,314,394; full time employed is 1,378,021; total unemployed/under-employed persons are: 1,814,706.
Putting the unemployment/under-employment rate at 54.8%. That is: unemployment is 36.6% and underemployment is 18.2%.
While the state government argues that it has created job opportunities outside civil service; “These outlets have created job opportunities outside the civil service structure.
In the industrial sector, the economic benefits include direct employment, distributorship, service provision, supplies and contractorship.
Even within the immediate communities, micro & small business are springing by the day with hugely promising prospects for job creation, poverty alleviation and wealth creation.
The agric and tourism sectors have also become a major generator of employment with a large number of youth entrepreneurs and start-ups,” Mr Charles Udoh asserted.
Government argument seems empty. At least, the Government would have told us the percentage of youths gainfully employed either within 2017 which is under review or in the more than two years span of the administration, if the NBS report was misleading.
Agreed, the government of Udom Emmanuel has good intention to create jobs for her teeming unemployed youths, but this is arguably a “mere intention” yet to materialise in the state.
Finally, I applaud the NBS for doing a thorough research work and I endorse the report as true representation of fact with respect to unemployment and under-employment rates in Akwa Ibom state in 2017; while I urge the state government to accept the report and adopt same as a working document to be improved upon in 2018.
Welcome to 2018, a year of stewardship and accountability!
*Franklyn Isong is a public affairs commentator