To say that unemployment is one of the major economic challenges facing Nigeria today is merely stating the obvious. One could aver that, owing to failure of past federal governments to take due cognizance of critical variables in the economic planning and annual budgets, the country’s growth trajectory had not factored sustained creation of employment opportunities in all the sectors of the economy.
It is interesting to see that the present federal government has leveraged on the abundant agricultural resources in virtually all parts of the country to create massive employment through Anchors Borrowing Programmes and sundry incentives which have, no doubt, lifted millions of people from grinding poverty. The infrastructural deficit in the country as a result of insufficient attention by past governments had impacted negatively on the several sectors of governance which exacerbated the scourge of unemployment.
It is understandable that due to the dwindling crude oil revenues going by the vulnerabilities and shocks in the international oil market, the present federal government had no option than to resort to foreign loans to provide the needed critical infrastructures in the annual budgets which are expected to enhance sustainable socio-economic growth and development in real terms. This will lead to generating massive direct and indirect employment and growth of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
Closely related to the categorical imperative of critical infrastructures is the sustenance and attraction of more Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, which will not only lead to creating massive employment but the much sought-after technological transfer. To this end therefore, strenuous efforts should be intensified to curtail the spike in the seemingly intractable insecurity across the country; which, if not pursued vigorously and relentlessly, might lead to exodus of the foreign investors, thus worsening the unemployment scourge.
Unchecked insecurity, doubtlessly, has the potential of generating fear for the foreign investors who are desirous to invest in Nigeria due to the abundance of mineral and natural resources begging to be explored and exploited.
According a public policy analyst, Bassey Ekong, “in the last one-and-half decade, many foreign investors have exited Nigeria on account of the high cost of production, inefficient government policies, insecurity, decaying infrastructure and economic recession.
The most recent victim of Nigeria’s harsh operating environment was Africa’s biggest grocery retailer and the South Africa-owned chain of stores, Shoprite, which, few days ago, announced its exit from Nigeria after 15 years of operation”.
Another equally critical sector that needs immediate focus is the challenges of inadequate power supply which constitute largely to the spiraling cost of goods and services. Here lies the reality of diversification of the economy in practical terms which embodies the nation-wide clarion calls for the restructuring of governance which borders on massive devolution of powers from the exclusive legislative list to the residual legislative list.
Public policy analysts posit that Nigeria’s operating environment has become increasingly challenging to investors. While the Nigerian government has continued to make efforts to attract foreign investors, no deliberate efforts are being made to protect their investments.
Government’s failure to protect the foreign investors has exposed their investments to threats by government agencies and local investors. There is therefore urgent need to halt further exit of foreign investors as this will truncate Nigeria’s dream of creating job opportunities and growing its economy.
WRITTEN BY POLYCARP ONWUBIKO