The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, confessed on Monday that unemployment in Nigeria was growing into a “very vicious disease condition” and that over 15 million Nigerians are out of jobs.
He also described the emergence of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Boko Haram sect, the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and the Niger Delta avengers as products of youth unemployment.
Ngige stated these during a chat with journalists in Enugu.
He said the Federal Government was worried by the increasing rate of unemployment in the country.
The minister said: “Unemployment is growing into a very vicious disease condition that has given rise to a lot of anti-social behaviour. And the government is seriously worried because if we don’t confront unemployment head-on with many measures which we are fashioning now, then the whole country will be consumed with social unrest.
“The symptoms are there. Boko Haram is a symptom of unemployment in Nigeria. IPOB is a symptom of unemployment and desperation and people getting frustrated.
“Same goes for banditry in the North-West. Same goes for kidnapping all over the country — North-West, North-East, North Central, South-East, South-South and South-West.
“Avengers — the destruction of pipelines, OPC, all these are symptoms of very serious underlying disease condition called unemployment.”
He said the government had been making efforts but these had not been enough to address the scourge.
Ngige added: “We are doing something, but I think what we are doing is not enough. Government has used diversification into agriculture to fight unemployment. Yes, it was successful where people agreed to turn themselves into farmers.
“We have also used ad hoc procedures like N-Power programme. It is like a drop of water in the ocean. We have employed through that process 500,000 people, about half a million. But we have those searching for white-collar jobs in the neighbourhood of about 15 million.
“So, we have to do something — to teach people new vocations, new skills, so that not everybody will be going for white-collar jobs.
“Even if you have a university degree, you can be taught some skills so that you employ yourself or even get employed somehow. So, we are going to do that or it is on the table.
“We were lucky President Muhammadu Buhari came in. If not, we would have all dispersed into neighbouring countries. We would have had social unrest that would be internecine and by now, we would not have solved it.
“So, we are on with our thinking caps.”
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