The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, James Ocholi (SAN), has revealed the challenge of the Nigerian Government in executing its plans of giving unemployed Nigerian graduates a monthly stipend of N5,000. This plan came first as a promise made by President Muhammadu Buhari during his campaign while running for elections in 2015. The promise was later adopted into the 2016 budget and is set for implementation this year.
However, the uncertainty of how many Nigerians who are eligible for the stipend is posing a delay to the execution of the plan. Minister of State, James Ocholi, whose office is responsible for carrying out the enormous project, stated his fears of not having the exact number of unemployed youths in Nigeria. The minister also spoke against the backdrop of the campaign promise of All Progressives Congress (APC), by the President to pay N5,000 stipend to indigent Nigerian graduates who are yet to get a job.
While speaking with some journalists at the National secretariat of APC in Abuja on Wednesday 21st January, 2016, Ocholi said;
“Before we got to where we are there is no data anywhere. There is no data of the unemployed. In fact, there is no data of the employed. It’s a bad situation but as we talk with you, we have experts working on the software and the various things which we have discussed with them on how to capture the data of the employed and the unemployed. It’s a bad situation!
“And for those who are employed, there are many who are in wrong places; there are many who are in jobs and they are not enjoying the job and who want to have a job better than what they are doing.
“What it takes to get that data ready is part of our work. Our work does not begin when the data comes out because the data itself does not employ people.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labour had recently entered into a partnership with indigenous technology company, Zinox computers, to build a database of unemployed residents in the country. This would have been an easy way out, but considering the ulterior motives most Nigerians are already harboring, and also the bulky population of the country, deriving accurate statistics of unemployed youths may be difficult.
Ocholi also said that there is another firm that is working with the National Directorate of Employment. The firm has a pilot scheme in Bwari and they also have an office in Lobito Crescent and are working towards a mega scale project on job profiling.
When asked about the Ministry’s plans for the skill acquisition centres, he said,
“So we have decided to identify how many skill acquisition centres we have in this nation, then we know the capacities of each one. There are several of them, more than 76 of them but we have also discovered that Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has a lot of skill centres in the Niger Delta region which were built by the Ministry but they do not have capable hands with resources, with skills to be able to train.”
Nigerians are hoping that the challenges faced by the Ministry of Labour and Employment will not hinder the Presidency from fulfilling it’s promise, which would be a huge relief to millions of graduates who do not have a means of livelihood. However, some advice that rather than allocate so much funds to paying stipends, the money should be channeled into creating more jobs in the country, so the government won’t have to keep feeding the unemployed, when they can make a living from working on a job.