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The Paradox Of Job Creation For The Buhari Government

When a job is created an individual is giving an assignment of joining hands in creating additional wealth for which that worker would be paid

Ohimai Daniel

Ever since General Muhammadu Buhari was announced the winner of the March 28 presidential election, the call for unemployment reduction has been hinged by labour unionists and other economic strategists on job creation. These set of ideologists and neo-economists believe that the massive unemployment rate in Africa and particularly in Nigeria could be resolved by the government coining or churning out jobs to engage its teaming unemployed youths without clearly defining the ‘how’. Because of this economic half information, over the years, both state and federal government go into what could be called creation of ludicrous menial jobs to its unemployed youths. These so employed youth turn to become menace to society instead of using their jobs as catalyst for economic growth.

Examples abound in several states of the nation where state traffic workers have turned their jobs into a means of massive thievery and economic sabotage because they must measure up with their counterparts in the federal perastatals or those with regular jobs. Even MDs and DGs of ministries and parastatals engage in frivolous and illegal recruitments in the name of engaging the youths. Ironically, there is already the complaint that Nigeria’s budget is too bulky for recurrent expenditure, and the popular Steve Oronsaye’s report on the method of cutting down government spending, unambiguously states that some ministries, parastatals be scrapped and those with similar functions merged.

The question then is what would be the fate of the workers in those ministries or parastatals to either be merged or scrapped? How does the government marry job creation and cutting the cost of governance? Before unraveling this economic enigma vis- a- vis the Nigerian situation, it must be understood that Nigeria is a consumer state; so over the period, instead of the government actually creating jobs, it only creates avenue for earning salaries. When a job is created an individual is giving an assignment of joining hands in creating additional wealth for which that worker would be paid, without undermining the law of Diminishing Marginal Output. But in the case of Nigeria, people are only made to share from the common wealth without actually contributing to it. So, now that Nigeria is a consumer state what is the incoming government supposed to do for actual job creation.

The government must concentrate on: 1. Agriculture. Before the oil boom of 1970, Nigeria was an exporter of agricultural produce. In fact, in 1960, Agriculture constituted about 80 percent of Nigeria’s GDP. This is an area where we have a comparative cost advantage. It is needful, therefore, for the incoming government to build on the gains of the outgoing government to ensure that agriculture becomes once again viable in this nation. With an expansive landmass covering over 923km2, an estimated arable land of about 68million hectares; abundance of natural forest and rangeland covering 36 million hectares; varieties of livestock and wide life; an agricultural friendly climate, coastal, marine resources; expansive rivers and lake; large regional and international market; Nigeria can provide adequate and viable jobs for its teeming youth. Government should give incentive to graduates who have interest in farming.

The government could also establish federal government farms in all local government of the federation where graduates could easily be employed 2. Entrepreneurship. In other to inculcate entrepreneurship interest in its citizens, the government could involve these strict measures (a) no graduate should pass out from their various institutions without acquiring a skill outside his/her normal course of study. (b) No family (nuclear) should have more than one member in the federal or state civil service. The reason is because an average Nigerian has entrepreneurial phobia, and it is more acute in graduates. And so you find every MD in the federal parastatal stacking their wards in there as if there is no life outside working for government.

And besides every Nigeria is supposed to have a representation in the federal service since it is our common wealth. Allowing university students to graduate and get to the NYSC before telling them of the need to learn skill is counterproductive. The feeling is that of disillusionment, confusion and frustration. And could lead to revenge. So this administration must be tactical. 3. More industries should be established. Agro-allied industries should be created to absorb our teaming high school leavers. 4. Our refineries should be made to work.

Instead of spending billions of naira on importations of fuel and the rest, our own refineries should be resuscitated to begin to produce optimally. Even the knowledge of the boys in the creeks could be harnessed instead of imprisoning them. This could serve as source of employment to the Nigerian youth. Besides these ‘dos’, the Muhammadu Buhari government must discourage the practice of sharing available job spaces to legislators and governors and ministers. Equal opportunities should be given to all job seekers to vie for available job spaces. This would encourage competence and merit, and discourage abuse of public offices.

•Ohimai Daniel wrote in from Lagos

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