Op-Ed | On The Federal Government’s 774,000 Jobs

The plan by the federal government to provide 774,000 jobs, 1000 in each local government, was conceived to cushion the excruciating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on one hand and to eradicate poverty, a menace that threaten humanity world over on the other. Just recently, the World Bank projected there will be 96 million poor people, those with limited means of meeting basic needs in Nigeria, come 2022.

By Layi Deinde

Such initiative, likewise the presidential resolve to take 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years from now are very important and laudable. As the government sets out to fashion out programmes and policies to actualise poverty eradication, we should not lose focus of where we have passed through to the present position.

Looking at the petroleum sector, we have not fared well as a people going by how we are still importing products we have its raw material as well refineries to process. Nigeria at a time, within five years, imported refined petroleum products with a sum that could have built 14 units of 100,000 barrel-capacity refineries.

Steel sector is not different. Steel is known to be the fabric of any economy; Nigeria is no exception. Our steel import bill is between $3 to $5 billion annually. All this happens while critical plants like Ajaokuta and some other steel plants beg for attention. We always have the challenge of channeling scarce resources to productive ventures. The planned employment of 774,000 Nigerians is another classical case of this.

In place of National Directorate of Employment, Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, N-Power all of which serve as avenues to hand citizens stipends, not different from social intervention schemes that offer citizens freebies, what we need are technical development as well as entrepreneurial schemes for real growth of the economy.

I am not moved or given to piling up further our consumption bill with the employment of 774,000 citizens. There is no denying the problem and challenge of poverty which COVID-19 has come to aggravate. The employment is like passing our usual route, nothing spectacular can be the outcome.

Government should rather invest in business development as well as technical training initiatives to cater for building up of capacity at the lower rung of the economic ladder. This should assist people to set up businesses, employ people, while government regulate them.

The enablement for businesses to thrive should be the headache of the government, not the number of employees who might end to be unproductive ultimately.

Recycling of waste products, food processing, arable farming, livestock farming, arts and crafts, construction works, rental service and fashion and beauty services are some of the areas the government can consider. Others are, horticulture, laundry services, restaurant and catering, shoes and clutch bag making and retail of household items.

These are just a few of likely businesses people should get necessary training from the business development centres to venture into.

Our huge recurrent expenditure, a major strain on how funds are unavailable for capital expenditure cannot sustain employment of 774,000 government workers, not at a time infrastructural deficit impede growth.

In a bid to cut down on the huge recurrent spending, the government is considering implementation of the Steven Oronsaye recommendation among several moves.

It is inconceivable that government contemplating on cutting down on the huge workforce and also add 774,000 employees, 1,000 from each local government.

This is not to negate the importance of poverty eradication. There is no better time than now to stamp out the scourge. Private sector driven employment initiatives should be the way.

Universally, small and medium scale industry, that will be generated are the levers that propel the wheels of

economies. Nigeria as led by the government should be resolute in moving away from her comfort zone of giving and taking handouts in anticipation of competing with nations of the world along economic terms.

We are better off teaching and learning how to fish than our usual gifting and receiving fish.

Layi Deinde via strucade1@gmail.com

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