Controversy Surrounds NBS Unemployment Report, Prompts Outrage from Labour and Employers

The recent announcement by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) claiming a 4.1% decrease in the national unemployment rate has been met with skepticism and outright rejection from both organized labour and employers across Nigeria. This report has been deemed fraudulent by these groups.

Organized labour representatives have vehemently contested the validity of the NBS report, asserting that it starkly contrasts with the harsh realities faced by the populace. Concerns have been raised that the continued propagation of such misleading data could erode the credibility of the NBS itself.

A senior official of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) voiced his concerns, pointing out that the NBS appears to have recalibrated its unemployment calculation methodology to artificially deflate the figures, resulting in a lower unemployment rate, saying “this is not helpful as it may undermine the credibility of NBS’ work in the future.”

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak publicly on the issue, said: “The fact is that any statistical data that is not truly representative of the facts on ground loses its validity.

”We know that unemployment figures in Nigeria can not be falling when the reality is that we have factories that are closing and leaving the country because of a difficult operating environment.

“You then ask yourself, where are the new jobs that have absorbed the thousands of graduates that are entering the labour market annually?

“The truth is that rebasing the employment template in order to get a lower figure for unemployment is not helpful as it may undermine the credibility of NBS’ work in the future.

“We sincerely suggest that figures or statistics dished out to Nigerians can only achieve its purpose when it aligns with the objective realities on the ground, no matter how bitter it may be.

“The idea that anybody that earns N1000 a week is in an employment smacks of attempts at gerrymandering the unemployment rate to cover the inability of the state to perform its responsibilities to the economy and Nigerians

”In all, we may not accept that figure until we conduct due diligence on the process that led to this outcome.”
Also reacting, the General Secretary of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, Prince Peter Adeyemi, said: “I am one of those who rely on NBS for accurate data but I strongly doubt this latest report that unemployment has reduced by 4.1 percent in the first quarter of 2023.

“There is practically nothing to support this position. Rather, I think the rate of unemployment has increased.

“Don’t forget that the first quarter of 2023 was the period of our elections in Nigeria where politicians used the youths and the unemployed to advance their various political activities.

“Those are temporary engagements that can not be classified as gainful employments. The federal, state, and local governments need to do more in the area of job creation.”

Similarly, President, National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, John Adaji, said: “It depends on the source of their information and the sectors they are looking at.

“But as far as the manufacturing sector is concerned and textile in particular, we have witnessed more job losses and even notices of redundancy and closure from some of the factories.

“I think we should be careful not to politicize critical issues as employment.

“We must resist the temptation to give wrong impression that we are making progress when in actual fact we are not, as far as issue of employment is concerned.

“We have a new government which part of its renewed hope agenda is to create jobs. Industrialization remains the sure means of creating sustainable jobs for the teaming unemployed youths in the country. The new government must support the revival of labour, labor-intensive textile, and garment industry.”

Also, the Deputy President of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, Dr Tommy Okon, said: “We don’t know how they generate their data, especially in Nigeria where we have dearth of data.”

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