Critical Analysis of the National Employment Policy 2017: The Past, Present and Future
The rate of unemployment in Nigeria has in recent times constantly been on the increase. On 20th December 2018, Thisday Live, a national newspaper, made a publication showing the statistics of unemployment in Nigeria. The Statistics showed that in the third quarter of 2018, there was an increase in unemployment rate from 18.8% to 23.1%; translating to 20.9 million unemployed and underemployed Nigerians. This is an irony, as the country which is regarded as the Giant of Africa is being ridiculed into such a deep level of poverty through the ripple effects of both unemployment and underemployment.
As reported by Quartz Africa in June 2018, a new report by the World Poverty Clock shows that Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world. The issue of unemployment is not just a national concern but it is also of international concern, as it is a focal point for the United Nations and strategically placed in the Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG 8) – Decent Work and Economic Growth. The United Nations has always emphasized the need for countries to partner with it in its efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Therefore, to combat the increasing level of unemployment in the country, having recognized it as a major cause of the current poverty level, the Federal Republic of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment promulgated the National Employment Policy 2017 (NEP), in an effort actively supported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to address the challenges and proffer suitable solutions to the unemployment problem in the Country. The major problems as identified by the NEP can be classified into: lack of adequate employment opportunities and lack of employable persons.
The questions to be answered in this paper are among others:
- In retrospect, does the new Policy substantially cover the employment issues raised before its formulation?
- The new Policy proposed solutions to the employment issues, but what is the extent of the applicability of the solutions and judging based on recent developments in the social and economy life of the nation, can those solutions truly solve the issues?
- Looking forward, what are the likely employment issues that will arise in the country and will the new Policy still be capable of tackling those issues?
Now, let us get to the answers.
The employment issues in Nigeria have always varied from society to society, across Nigeria’s unique diverse settings. While the issues of unemployment and underemployment are quite general and common to all the societies, the social, cultural and economic structure still differ from society to society. Different trades and jobs are attributed to different societies, which for ease of classification, we may use the Geopolitical zones.
In the North Central, North West and North East which majorly comprise of all the Northern States, the most common occupation or job is the large scale agriculture. The people here are more engaged in rearing of animals such as cattles, rams; they are also engaged in commercial farming unlike their counterparts in the Southern States who majorly involve in subsistence farming to simply cater for their immediate family, and not generally for sale. Although, in the 1960s, during the time of the late Premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Agriculture was capitalized on, particularly with the establishment of not just the then thriving cocoa house which was formerly known as ‘ile awon agbe’ which translates into ‘the house of farmers’ but also the farm settlements.
In the South East and South South geopolitical zones, their major job has been in manufacturing, production, trading and distribution of materials ranging from industrial raw materials, clothings and the likes. They have also always been involved in logistics; transportation of goods and people from place to place. The people of the South West on the other hand have always been known for dominating the service industry at all levels.
It is therefore important that the policy maker(s) take these distinct attributes of the different groups into cognizance if they must develop a policy that is all-encompassing