The presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, has assured Nigerians that the increasing rate of unemployment in the country would stop if she emerged as the President of the country.
In a press statement on Thursday, in reaction to the recent data released by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), she warned Nigerians against voting for “candidates that have no idea of how to solve the challenges facing the country.”
The ACPN presidential candidate reiterated that no fewer than 80 million Nigerians would be lifted out of poverty by her administration.
She said that her administration would implement a productivity and competitiveness initiative that would create new opportunities and jobs in some key sectors.
Among the sectors are agriculture, fisheries, livestock, and agribusiness where more than one-third of Nigeria’s active labour population are found.
“There will be jobs from light manufacturing industries, construction, housing and public works, renewable solutions, services including trade, telecoms and technology, domestic tourism, and creative industries. These industries not only hold the key to putting more Nigerians to work but provides a much-needed boost to the nation’s productivity. Promoting and supporting these industries will occur through a mix of sound policies on trade, tax, infrastructure, skills, training, and research and development,” Ezekwesili added.
She also said priority would be placed on building a rapidly expanding economy, which would be powered by the private sector based on an economic structural change agenda.
She said, “A majority of those operating in the economy are in the informal, low productivity sectors. While previous governments have focused largely on the formal sector in their poverty reduction and ease of doing business schemes, the informal sector, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is over 60 per cent of the Nigerian economy ($240bn).
“Unable to tackle the factors which lead to informality, such as low level of education, previous governments have chosen either to ignore the problem or militate against it. The informal sector also suffers low productivity due to high business costs which outstrip earnings.
“These barriers on them mean that those that work the hardest in our economies fail to earn a decent living. Investments in the formal sector over the last couple of years, while significant, have not yielded the kind of growth rates achieved by the informal sector, which grew at an annual average rate of about 8.5 per cent between 2015 and 2017, in comparison with the formal economy which grew by 0.8 per cent in 2017.
“However, increased informality, if unchecked, could lead to higher rates of poverty and inequality.”
She also said, “We will move to embed the productivity and competitiveness agenda within initiatives that give incentive for the nation’s informal businesses and workers to, on their own, enter the regulatory framework which enables adequate access to government support, accounting, tax reform necessitated by a larger number of registered workers, and the capitalisation of investments in domestic industries.
“In order to revitalise key aspects of the economy and implement dramatic reform, the government will pay significant attention to the informal sector, as the principal creator of employment and as a catalyst for growth and development.”
According to Ezekwesili, Nigeria’s growth and productivity can only happen when the people have lots of jobs and when they earn incomes that pull them out of poverty.
“Right now, people simply do not have jobs. Under President Muhammadu Buhari, according to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), over 20 million Nigerians are unemployed. Again, think about that for a second. Those are not just numbers – they are humans; one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight million humans. They have families. They have people who depend on them.
“We all know someone who has lost a job in this economy. You may even be one of them. We all have families and friends who call us on the phone, pleading for any change we could spare at all to help them survive one more day. How long can we continue like this? The right candidate is Ezekwesili,” she added.