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Nigerian government keeps mum on requests to prove alleged 1.6 million jobs

Immigration Test Centre, Abuja ….. Photo: Courtesy unidentified reader

“Despite the delay, we shall not relent in our pursuit of independent verification of the statistical data on job creation and youth employment in Nigeria.”

The federal government has been silent on request by a youth development and advocacy group to verify the number of jobs it said it created between 2011 and 2013.

Spaces for Change, a non-governmental organization, had, last month, filed a Freedom of Information, FOI, request to the Office of the Coordinating Minister of the Economy for an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies and public records of the official statistics regarding the number of jobs created in Nigeria within the stated period.

In a response to the organization dated April 14, the Federal Ministry of Finance referred the group to the National Bureau of Statistics.

This was despite that the FOI request to the Ministry, which was dated March 18th, had also been sent to Yemi Kale, Statistician-General of the Federation, Office of the National Bureau for Statistics; and Nwanze Okidegbe, Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President.

“This is to inform you that the National Bureau of Statistics is the sole collector and custodian of such statistical data, especially as there are several job creation agencies within the government,” read the response signed by A.I. Okorafor, Director (Press) Federal Ministry of Finance.

“You may therefore wish to direct your request to the appropriate agency for authentic, comprehensive data,” he added.

Mrs. Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, the Executive Director of Spaces for Change, said that the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President had also mailed back a similar response, directing them to the National Bureau of Statistics.

“Several weeks after submitting the request online, through courier and personal delivery served on their Abuja office, Spaces for Change has not yet received any official response from the National Bureau of Statistics,” Mrs. Ibezim-Ohaeri said in an e-mail to PREMIUM TIMES.

“Despite the delay, we shall not relent in our pursuit of independent verification of the statistical data on job creation and youth employment in Nigeria,” she added.

Official records released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2011, and that of the National Bureau of Nigeria (NBN) in 2012 disclosed that the youth unemployment rate was 41.6 per cent and 54 per cent, respectively.

In his 2014 New Year message, President Goodluck Jonathan had claimed his government’s policies had been responsible for the creation of about 1.6 million jobs in 2013.

“Our national budget for 2014 which is now before the National Assembly is specifically targeted at job creation and inclusive growth,” President Jonathan had said.

“We are keenly aware that in spite of the estimated 1.6 million new jobs created across the country in the past 12 months as a result of our actions and policies, more jobs are still needed to support our growing population. Our economic priorities will be stability and equitable growth, building on the diverse sectors of our economy.”

Nigerians have expressed skepticism over the employment figures brandished by the federal government, prompting Mrs. Ibezim-Ohaeri’s group to request to verify the claims.

Last month, about 20 people lost their lives after a stampede ensued at some centres of the Nigerian Immigration Service recruitment exercise across the country.

Almost one million applicants participated in the exercise.

The federal government, however, has continued to insist that it had created millions of jobs since the inception of President Jonathan’s administration.

On Tuesday, Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, took to twitter to lambast state and local governments for not matching the federal government’s job creation drive.

Mr. Okupe wrote via his official twitter handle @doyinokupe.

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