Reshuffling the deck to tackle economic disparity

I am no Economist. I do love data analysis as it helps to put situation in more objective perspective.

Reading about Nigeria unemployment rate to be at 6.4%, naturally I thought someone must be having a good joke at the expense of the general public. Then I read the reports produced by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that backs this up, according to the report, unemployment isn’t our problem based on sampled survey of 33,300 private households and 199,800 individuals conducted in all of our 36 states over a period of two years.

So the real problem we have is underemployment, meaning most people of working age already are involved in one income generating activity or the other, all they had to do is work some more per week.

Lots of energies devoted into explaining the definition to the aggrieved Nigerians. There, I understood why Nigerians reading this report were upset, why did it focus on one aspect of underemployment definition of part-term employment? Why not talk about those who are working full-time but the salary isn’t just enough to meet the basic needs?

Statistical analysis will tell exact tale one sets it out to tell.

So a question was posed – how many people do I know of working age that aren’t working?

For some reason, I prefer to answer this question as opposed to wasting time reading report that justifies Nigeria unemployment rate is currently at 6.4% while stats on income disparity was out of the equation.

For example: I know a friend who has a teaching degree & law degree. She recently says she’s looking for a new job as her current one where she works from 9am to 6pm, Mon to Fri and occasional weekend at a private law firm in Ibadan pays ₦15k/month. She was excited to get the job mid last year with the hope of building up a career. While it is exciting to have this opportunity, she relies on her partner to foot the bill most of the time despite her working full-time – her take home after transportation has been ₦1,500.

She is 35 years old. Which category can we put this lady? Underemployed?

During the last university lecturer’s strike that lasted 6 months, my nephew took up a job at an IT office assisting graduate students to type and make photocopies, he was paid ₦7k/month. With being sensible of legging it halfway, he spent ₦3k/month on transport. Many of his age mates slept rough on campus to safe on transport, well, I don’t think one has to go that far to teach youths how tough Nigeria is so for him he was a lot more blessed than many of his age. If he had to contribute towards rent, he wouldn’t break even. He was 19 years old at the time.

Some real people story are more pitiful than others, actually both people above are still very lucky as many who have worked really hard to get any form of qualification are really struggling, evidence on the street.

I think people who are in key positions in Nigeria should be mandated to go on the streets to observe people as they go round their businesses before deciding where it’s best to focus data collections as to get better understanding on the best way to help common man on the road.

The so-called underemployed Nigerians, even if they had to work 24/7 – their lifestyle isn’t going to be any different – maybe reshuffling income deck so it trickles down fairly to working people is a better way of helping the masses, therefore where Nigeria National Bureau of Statistics should shed more lights.

Categories: Nigeria

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16 replies

  1. FK
    From my viewpoint the Nigerian government is not serious about uplifting the masses, they are happy with the status quo.
    Personally, waiting for ‘trickle down economics’ is a waste of time, by the time a ‘drop’ lands in your hand it will be too late for you or you may even be dead.
    I also think that Nigerians have been misled about the benefits of university education. It is intended for the professional classes which are usually a small minority. So what happens to all the other graduates, the result is as you have depicted many overqualified people fighting for positions they are not suited for.
    I think that government could do a lot more as regards wealth creation, Alhaji Dangote has what he calls ‘soft loans’ which allow women to embark upon ‘petty trading’ ( to use his words). You have seen the development of Grameen bank in Bangladesh which takes things ‘up a notch or two’ and seems more widespread.
    I recently saw a TED talk, where it talks about what women can achieve. I think this would be good if those women in Nigeria that have money, can co-operate amongst themselves to start some initiatives. In this video the presenter Mr Whitehill presented examples of Women in technology starting their own businesses. There is a lady from Jamaica, Ingrid Riley, who has defied what people’s expectations and is not satisfied for Jamaica to become the next outsource centre for the US, but has created the Caribbean Tech Entrepreneurship movement to take things further, she did not sell out her ideals or her country. Her idea will create a tech ecosystem for Jamaica which will give rise to many more businesses. If Jamaica can do this, why is Nigeria sleeping?
    The example can be found at around 15.00 into the video, there are other examples mentioned.
    Here is the video.

    People will have to learn to thrive despite having a dysfunctional government. Kind of how India’s IT industry has blossomed without government intervention.

    This is no cure for the unemployment or under-employment problem, but I believe if done properly can make a significant impact.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the tedtalk link jco –

      You are right that govt has misled citizens about the importance of getting a degree. They did a bit more by measuring individual’s worth based on the number of degrees rather than the value of contribution – that did quite a bit of damage.

      As it stands today most Nigerians are self employed, only if there’s more financing available to micro business. Petty trading is what many people do anyways, and some were able to grow it to sizeable one.

      Yes, agree that Gremeen type bank focussing on the very poor will be fantastic.


      • But FK, what about the future?
        Nigeria can’t offer a future no better than selling peppers and tomatoes on the roadside, and reject goods from Asia . Anything regarding technology costs a whole lot more than what Nigeria currently produces. The future as it stands, doesn’t see any chance of the nation bridging this gap.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t see any future in the horizon for the rural people, it will be from hand to mouth for many years to come. Most of the initiatives going on are concentrated in the city.

          Lots have been said but until we can see it touching ordinary folks on the street, optimism is still very shaky.


          • Thank you for your candid reply.

            In Kenya, this initiative has not been taken up by government, but by a private individual (Mr Edward Kibosek).


            So we shouldn’t just resign ourselves that Nigeria’s rural landscape is condemned to darkness and poverty for the foreseeable future.

            Because not much is occurring in rural Nigeria, what change that occurs will have more of an impact.

            Other nations are managing to achieve this, why not Nigeria?

            Liked by 1 person

            • jco – your interest is inspiring!

              No, we can’t afford to resign ourselves, but as it is now not much is being done when it comes to the rural areas.

              In Osun for example, RLG, a Ghanian based mobile phone manufacturing company partnered with the state government to establish an institute in the state for the purpose of training graduates to assemble phone components – this was celebrated last week. I thought that was fantastic.


              I suppose private individual can collaborate too and contribute to the development – for example me starting from my village 🙂


              • Great news about RLG, they looked beyond Lagos and Abuja.
                Governor Aregbesola is really working hard for Osun people. It’s also great to see Ghana giving Nigeria a helping hand (that is what is needed some African solidarity, – we know profit is the bottom line, but still it is good of them).

                FK, I’m sure with your knowledge and worldly wisdom and coming from your community and maintaining your links, you will have more of an impact than you can ever imagine. The downside is that once you get involved, you won’t have time to blog, but that’s ok, its all in a good cause.

                You wrote a piece about rural Nigeria being neglected, I wrote that Nigeria can’t ever hope to progress if it ignores the countryside and it’s people. If we look around we can see other ‘developing countries’ utilising their resources like Kenya.

                Jamaica is utilising its technical base to strive forwards, whilst Nigeria dozes and squabbles over the proceeds of oil.

                Yoruba have a concept called ‘aaro’ (I think that’s what it’s called), whereby farmers form a collective and help each other to harvest their crops, this collective mobilisation is what Nigeria needs. No one can succeed by themselves.

                Both Kenya and Jamaica have shown that it is private individuals who are taking the initiative as government is too slow or preoccupied with other matters. I think these provide good examples that Nigeria can follow.

                I’m glad you approve of my annoying persistent efforts.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Yes, Gov. Aregbesola is indeed working v. hard.

                  Ha ha jco, aaro? My God, are you like 80yrs old lol?. Haven’t heard that word for a long time now, yes used to be common. Young men with small maize/cassava farm used to do when I was in the village as a way to inspire – efficient especially for clearing and harvesting. Not as common as in the past, never saw my dad practiced it.

                  Agree, a lot harder trying to do it all alone….


                  • No, I’m 47 years old.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • I learned the word ‘aaro’ from my friend Bayo, who was teaching me Yoruba. That was a great time. He often laughed because I spoke it slowly, he said “I speak like a sick man”. Well, I had to mentally translate from English to Yoruba, so its not easy for me…But its fun…

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Ha ha I see, even Bayo must be close to the village somehow to know that word. Aaro is a fantastic concept, come to think of it – that was when trust was not an issue. It can work again if executed carefully.

                      Well, if you remember such an ancient concept such as aaro, I think you try well, well.


  2. I believe the ‘underemployed in Nigeria today are possibly more than the employed. There are many university graduates who have gotten stuck in professional driving positions; for non-Nigerians, these were jobs for elementary school leavers. Ditto, grads who work selling phone cards; news vendors, driving motorcycle taxis – sort of like the Indian rickshaws, and hundreds of thousands have become professional job seekers.

    Nigeria, meanwhile, is bedeviled by legislators – Nigerians call them legisLOOTERS – who earn over a million dollars yearly in various incomes, a situation that has earned them the ignominious and dubious distinction of highest-paid lawmakers in the world.

    Of course no country can have 100% employment but a situation that has an oil-rich country with millions of unemployed, millions of underemployed and others who are plainly barely surviving while a very few corner the wealth of the country in a very primitive acquisition binge needs to do something, and very urgently, too.

    Thanks for this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It beggars belief really – God bless whoever works really hard for their wealth but these guys mentality are beyond any common sense, it is clear why securing public office is so bloody.

      I heard over a thousand people applied to be Dangote’s truck driver, many of them were PhD holders in various field – he only wanted just one person that could drive, degree or no degree. That is the story of Nigeria.

      I still think we are too soft on the criminals, without consequences, how is anyone going to change?


  3. The umemployment statistics are skewed in almost every country. The underemployed is not even accounted for. If the people knew what the real numbers were, there would be uprisings. With these numbers being so rediculously low, most people will just think that it is only them, who is not employed or who is underemployed. This is a testement to how badly governed most countries are. Just think of the waste of human potential. All our countries could be doing much better.

    Liked by 1 person


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