• 55m Nigerians lost jobs under the administration
• Report: Kogi, Benue, Bayelsa, 18 other states owe workers’ salaries, pensions
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The unemployment report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Tuesday has shown that no fewer than 5.5 million Nigerians became unemployed in the two years of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, even as the unemployment rate rose to 14.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016, from 13.9 per cent in the preceding quarter.
Coming on the heels of the NBS report was a nationwide survey conducted by BudgIT showing that Kogi, Benue, Bayelsa, Abia, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti and 14 other states in the country owe their workers and retirees salaries and pensions ranging from one to 36 months.
According to the latest report released by the NBS, the unemployment rate was 4.2 per cent higher than the rate recorded in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Consequently, 61.6 per cent of Nigerians in the labour force (not the entire population), aged between 15 and 24 were either unemployed or underemployed in Q4 2016, compared to 59.9 per cent in Q3, 58.3 per cent in Q2, 56.1 per cent in Q1, and 53.5 per cent in Q4 2015.
The statistical agency also said the population of the unemployed rose from 11.19 million at the end of the third quarter of 2016 to 11.55 million in the fourth quarter of 2016.
The economically active population or working age population (persons within ages 15 and 64) also increased from 108.03 million to 108.59 million, representing a 0.5 per cent increase over the previous quarter and a 3.4 per cent increase when compared to Q4 2015.
In Q4 2016, the labour force population (those within the working age population willing, able and actively looking for work) increased to 81.15 million, from 80.67 million in Q3 2016, a 0.6 per cent rise in the labour force during the quarter.
The NBS stated that this meant that about 482,689 persons from the economically active population entered the labour force during the quarter (individuals who were able, willing and actively looking for work).
But the magnitude of this increase between Q3 and Q4 2016 was smaller when compared to Q2 and Q3 2016, which recorded an increase of 782,886 in the labour force population.
Within the reference period, the total number of persons in full time employment (who did any form of work for at least 40 hours) decreased by 977,876 or 1.8 per cent, compared to the previous quarter, and decreased by 1.92 million, or 3.5 per cent when compared to Q4 of 2015, translating to a total of 52.58 million persons in full time employment.
“With an economically active or working age population of 108.59 million and labour force population of 81.15 million, it means 27.44 million persons within the economically active or working age population decided not to work for one reason or the other in Q4 2016, hence were not part of the labour force and cannot be considered unemployed.
“The number of underemployed in the labour force (those working but doing menial jobs not commensurate with their qualifications or those not engaged in fulltime work and merely working for a few hours) increased by 1,109,551 or 7.0 per cent, resulting in an increase in the underemployment rate from 19.7 per cent (15.9 million persons) in Q3 2016 to 21.0 per cent (17.03million persons) in Q4 2016,” the agency said.
Also, underemployment remained predominant in rural areas, as 25.8 per cent of rural residents were underemployed compared to 10.5 per cent of urban residents during the review period.
The unemployment rate in the urban areas was 18.4 per cent compared to 12.3 per cent in the rural areas, as the preference was more for formal white-collar jobs, which are located mostly in urban centres.
21 States Owe Workers, Pensioners
In a related development, a survey by BudgIT has revealed that Kogi, Benue, Bayelsa, Abia, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti and 14 other states in the country owe their workers and retirees salaries and pensions ranging from one to 36 months.
BudgIT, in a statement Tuesday, said it decided to conduct a qualitative analysis of the frequency of salary payments of six different categories of workers in all 36 states, namely, primary school teachers, secondary school teachers, local government workers, state independent workers, pensioners, and state secretariat workers.
Of the 36 states of the federation, BudgIT’s survey showed that only 15 states – Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Borno, Cross River, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Lagos, Ogun, Plateau, Sokoto and Yobe – had no outstanding salaries and pension obligations to their workers and retired public servants.
Twenty-one other states still owe workers and pensioners their entitlements despite the N1.75 trillion extra-budgetary disbursements, better known as bailouts, from the federal government under the current administration.
The bailouts comprised the N575 billion bond restructuring programme; N92.18 billion NLNG dividend paid to the states; N3.59 billion solid minerals revenue savings; N338 billion CBN loans for the payment of salaries; N7.85 billion NLNG windfall; N117.3 billion excess petroleum profit tax savings; N90 billion conditional loan facility; and N552 billion Paris Club deduction refunds.
BudgIT is a civic technology organisation with a focus on raising the standards of transparency, citizen engagement and accountability, most especially in public finance.
“In particular, we discovered that many states have defaulted in the payments of pensions and gratuities.
“From the survey carried out, we discovered that apart from the fact that 16 states which are yet to pay the pensions of former civil servants in their service, eight of these states have not paid their pensioners at least 12 months’ pensions, while states like Rivers, Imo, Taraba and Niger owe pensions of about two to three years.
“Notably, these pensioners expressed how unhappy they are, their dissatisfaction with the state governments and how hard it has been for them to survive,” it said.
In addition to outstanding pensions, BudgIT noted in its survey that across all categories, states like Kogi, Abia, Benue, Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo have not paid their workers’ salaries for this year 2017, owing at least four months’ salary.
“However, the likes of Lagos and Rivers have been consistently impressive with their up to date and full payment of civil servants’ remuneration,” the survey showed.
BudgIT acknowledged that there had been several newspaper publications on states’ civil servants being owed salaries, adding: “We are also aware that due to the recent economic downturn, FAAC allocations to states and their internally generated revenue have reduced drastically, making them unable to pay their staff salaries and run their states effectively.”
According to the agency, “State governors have recently canvassed that the federal government should provide another tranche of Paris Club refund to offset salaries and other liabilities.
“We hereby ask that the federal government should tighten its accountability structures for the series of extra-statutory funds that are provided to state governments, which currently has reached N1.75 trillion.
“We also demand that state governments need to do more in the transparency of the use of the funds and it is pertinent that only seven out of 36 states, namely, Bauchi, Kogi, Kano, Kaduna, Edo, Gombe and Yobe have provided their full 2017 budgets to the public.”