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COVID-19, Economic Meltdown Not Justifiable Excuse for Unemployment, Says Keyamo

The Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Mr. Festus Keyamo, has stated that the lockdown and lack of productivity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is not enough excuse for the high rate of unemployment bedeviling the Nigerian economy at the moment.

Keyamo said the skills sector, which should be a prerogative in unlocking employment, should be encouraged as government has provided an enabling environment for skills acquisition and self-employment.

Speaking at the 2022 Annual Public Lecture of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN), Keyamo said that constant power supply for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) is needed to enable businesses to thrive.

“No justifiable excuse for the very high rate of unemployment that we have. The global trend we had, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fact that we have a global melt down, even all the economies of the world are going through a lot, is still not an excuse because we are a very rich country. We should be able to harness our natural resources to provide jobs for our people.

“What we are trying to do is to look at the skills sector. That is the key to unlock unemployment market in Nigeria. If we are waiting for the orthodox method of employment, where we have to create spaces in public institutions, then we are not in tune with what is happening globally. All over the world, the greatest money earners are those who have skills,” he said.

In his keynote address, Professor of Development Economics and Data Analytics, Professor Bongo Adi, said that the rate of import as compared to that of export has continued to be huge burden for the economy and external reserves, noting that the inability to export enough goods and services means the country is in deficit.

Adi who spoke on the theme “External Reserves Dynamics and Governance Challenges,” said that dearth of technology and competent human resources in the country have continued to be a huge problem.

He said that Nigeria has become a dumping ground for all manner of stuff from all over the world, adding that “we only sell petroleum and the queues have returned. We do not have the capacity to process our fuel. Rather than external reserves growing, we have depletion.”

He recalled that the country could boast of $69 billion external reserves during the administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s administration 12 years ago because micro economy management was the formula used in building the external reserves.’

Adi added that “it firmed up the currency. There was huge growing of external balance which was almost for a decade and the country could borrow due to our strong credit strength. The economy was in a sustainable long-term growth, better than Indonesia and competing with China.

“What is Nigeria selling to the rest of the world? We don’t have technology and competent human resources. Finding competent people is extremely difficult. The little we have is running to Canada. So, brain drain causes lack of competitiveness.”

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