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Disputed NBS Report on Unemployment Rate Sparks Outcry from Labour and Employers


A recent report by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) claiming a 4.1 percent reduction in the country’s unemployment rate has sparked intense controversy. Organised labor and employers have jointly rejected the report, calling it fraudulent and out of touch with the actual state of employment in the nation.

The report, which touted a decrease in unemployment, has drawn sharp criticism from organized labor groups. Representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) expressed skepticism over the validity of the NBS findings. An anonymous senior official of the NLC explained that the reported decline in unemployment was inconsistent with the reality on the ground. The official argued that manipulating employment data to show a lower figure undermines the credibility of NBS and suggested that figures must reflect the actual situation to maintain public trust.

A spokesperson for NLC further emphasized the disconnect between the reported decrease in unemployment and the current economic challenges, citing the closure of factories and the lack of new jobs for the influx of graduates entering the labor market each year. The spokesperson asserted that the notion that anyone earning N1000 per week could be considered employed was an attempt to obscure the true extent of unemployment.

The General Secretary of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), Prince Peter Adeyemi, echoed these sentiments. He cast doubt on the accuracy of the report, suggesting that temporary engagements during election periods could not be classified as gainful employment. He called for increased efforts by governments at all levels to create sustainable jobs.

Representatives from different sectors also contested the report’s findings. John Adaji, President of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), highlighted that the manufacturing sector, particularly textiles, had experienced more job losses and factory closures. He cautioned against politicizing employment figures and urged support for labor-intensive industries.

Dr. Tommy Okon, Deputy President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), criticized the lack of accurate data generation in Nigeria. He pointed out the increasing unemployment rates and called on government agencies to provide accurate and transparent statistics.

On the employers’ side, Femi Oke, Executive Secretary of the Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Employers’ Federation (CAMPEF), discussed the challenges faced by the manufacturing sector, including foreign exchange issues, removal of fuel subsidies, and rising electricity tariffs. These challenges, he noted, had led to job rationalization and losses.

President of the National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Products Employees (NUCFRLANMPE), Babatunde ‘Goke Olatunji, expressed concerns over the harsh business environment leading to significant membership losses. He revealed that over 20,000 workers had been lost due to company closures and difficulties accessing foreign exchange, electricity, and essential fuels. The prevalence of casualization in the workforce was another pressing issue raised by Olatunji.

The NBS report has ignited a fervent debate between organized labor, employers, and the statistical agency itself. The disagreement underscores the importance of accurate, transparent, and representative data in informing policy decisions and addressing critical issues such as unemployment. As Nigeria navigates economic challenges, achieving consensus on accurate data collection and analysis remains a crucial endeavor.

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