The Senate has asked the federal government to initiate a sustainable unemployment fund for the payment of living stipends to unemployed Nigerians until such persons secure employment.
Currently, the millions of unemployed Nigerians do not get any kind of benefits from the government.
The federal government has, however, initiated programmes like the N-Power to reduce the number of unemployed in a country where the unemployment rate was 23.1 per cent by the third quarter of 2018.
On Wednesday, the Senate also called on the federal, state, and local governments to declare a state of emergency on the provision of employment to Nigerian youth.
These were some of the resolutions taken by the Senate after it deliberated on a motion on ‘Escalating rate of unemployment in the country.’ The bill was sponsored by former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
Mr Ekweremadu, who raised a Point of Order, complained that a large number of various levels of graduates that Nigeria’s higher institutions are turning out yearly, but cannot be absorbed by the labour market, is a time bomb waiting to explode.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had in April, disclosed that Nigeria’s unemployment rate will reach 33.5 per cent by 2020.
A report by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2019 states that Nigeria’s unemployment rate stood at 23.1 per cent of the workforce in the third quarter of 2019.
Leading the debate, Mr Ekweremadu said any nation with such number of unemployed, but employable youth population, is only sitting on a keg of gunpowder.
The most pressing demand on the hand of every legislator and the public officer is the rising number of Curriculum Vitae and application for employments from constituents and Nigerians, he said.
“A situation where every graduate has to queue up for a job only in government offices is an indication of the breakdown of the private sector, which is the major driver of world economies.
“These energies and potential talents that are lying idle and wasting away are usually misdirected toward many unprofitable and harmful ventures and lifestyles,” he said.
The lawmaker said the high level of crime in any society is most times related to the high rate of unemployment and it is one of the major causes of the upsurge in Rural-Urban migration, which puts pressure on facilities at the urban centres.
In his contribution, Smart Adeyemi (APC, Kogi West), said unemployment is an issue that should be taken seriously.
One of the major achievements of the government is the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari to make sure the iron and steel complex is back to business, he said.
“Iron and steel complex alone is capable of employing 25,000 people, today I doubt if they have up to 500 people at the iron and steel complex Ajaokuta, it was abandoned by previous administrations.”
He added that banks have contributed in no small measure to the problem of unemployment in Nigeria.
“They refused to give faculty to small scale industry but when they see you as a politician, Nigerian banks are easily available to you.”
Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti) lamented that Nigerians have moved away from agriculture.
“Nobody wants to go back to the farm. Even those on the farm are just nominal farmers. That is not sufficient.
“We must declare an emergency on unemployment. The emergency is as good as being declared now.”
The Senate thereafter urged the federal government to put up mechanisms and programmes that would provide employment for unemployed graduates/youth at all tiers of government.
The lawmakers also urged the federal, state, and local governments to revitalise existing industries, build new ones, and provide a conducive and enabling environment for the private sector to build more industries.
The Senate asked the federal government to initiate a sustainable unemployment fund for the payment of living stipends to unemployed Nigerians until such persons secure any kind of employment.