The Bank of Industry (BoI), on Tuesday, stated that the double digit unemployment rate pegged on Nigeria is more or less artificial, considering the massive untapped capacity in the country.
The Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had recently reported that the country’s unemployment rate rose from 12.1 per cent in the first quarter of this year to 13.3 per cent as at the end of the second quarter.
The bank noted that with serious and urgent attention paid to value addition on the nation’s abundant natural endowments, there would be little or no manpower to spare in the economy.
BoI emphasised the need for Nigeria to be more productive going forward, maintaining that the nation’s huge population can be deployed to achieve this feat.
According to the acting Managing Director of bank, Waheed Olagunju, during a public policy forum lecture organised by Business Hallmark: “In the 70s when industrial capacity utilisation was almost 80 per cent, Nigeria had to depend on expatriates to work in some of our industries and I believe we can still redeem that era. After the civil war, our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was growing about 11.1 per cent per annum because there were no dislocation and we were still dependent on our natural endowments.”
He said: “In the 1970s, some of our economic indices were superior to most of the developed economies of the world today. Given the nation’s abundant natural endowments, I am of the view that the unemployment in Nigeria is artificial. If we are to add value to our agricultural products and our solid minerals that are of commercial quantity, we will not have enough manpower to operate in the economy.”
He added that with an average population growth rate of three per annum, Nigeria must reflect the growth rate to its GDP, pointing out that the wider the positive gap between population growth rate and GDP, the higher the quality of lives and the higher the per capita income.
“Now that we are in recession, we are reporting a GDP of less than three per cent and the nation is growing at three per cent which means that there is a deficit and if we go on at this rate, the more unproductive we will become,” he added.
He added that most developed economies of the world got to where they are because they were disciplined, stressing that the nation’s core values have been eroded while urging for the need to invest massively in human capacity development to become a highly productive economy.
He said state governments have a crucial role to play in terms of ease of doing business and creating an enabling environment, commending the Ogun State government for playing a key role in attracting investors into the state and the country at large.
Also speaking at the event, the Attorney General, Ogun State, Dr. Olumide Ayeni, who represented the Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, said the forum tagged: ‘Restituting the past for a greater Nigeria,’ is apt and timely to put Nigeria on a sustainable path of economic development.
He said during the oil boom, the past administrations did not invest heavily on capital investment, stating that since the discovery of oil, the agricultural sector of the economy was abandoned.
He said no development desiring nation depends on one source of revenue for economic development, saying that most of the countries Nigeria was ranked with in the 80s have diversified their economies becoming global economic giants.
The Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Stock Exchange, Mr. Oscar Onyema, said countries across the world have moved on from where they were, noting that some of the emerging economies compared with Nigeria are not only miles away but are part of the global giants.
“In order for us to have a sustainable growth over a long period of time and to catch up with the rest of the world, we must harness the power of our population growth; diversify our export earnings, pivot towards an export led economy and invest in human capacity development.
He also called on the need for the federal government to facilitate and strengthen the financial system to improve financial services and ensure an all inclusive financial growth.