Why we’ve not published Nigeria’s unemployment figures for two years


The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) will soon commence publishing (un)employment statistics two years after it stopped, the Statistician-General of the Federation, Yemi Kale, has said.

Mr Kale said the bureau was faced with insufficient funding but has received funds from the federal government “to continue the survey.”

“But this was slowed down by the (coronavirus) pandemic induced lockdown,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.

“NBS did not stop publishing labour force statistics. We had challenges with funding like most other MDAS. We have now received the funds but the lockdown slowed down the work. However, it has now commenced and will be published once the work is done up to q2 2020,” he said.

The labour force statistics which reveal the unemployment rate in the country was last published in the third quarter of 2018, meaning there has not been any official release of the national unemployment rate for the past six quarters (Q4 2018 to Q1 2020).

In the last report, Nigeria’s unemployment rate increased from 18.8 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 to 23.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2018.

The total number of people classified as unemployed, which means they did nothing at all or worked too few hours (under 20 hours a week) to be classified as employed, increased from 17.6 million in Q4 2017 to 20.9 million in Q3 2018.

Controversy

After the bureau could not publish the report for the last quarter of 2018, there were speculations that the statistics were purposely withheld because of the 2019 elections.

Opponents argued that the report was being delayed until after the election, so as not to harm President Buhari’s chances at re-election.

In his defense, Mr Kale had said in a tweet “U guys need to stop this. I know it’s election time but I’ve said this repeatedly. Nobody is calling me to manipulate any data or not to release any data. The work can’t be completed due to budgetary releases. It’s not hard to confirm when last we got data funding and how much.”

However, some Nigerians accused President Buhari of undermining Mr Kale’s NBS by starving it of funds.

“If Buhari is starving NBS of funds needed to publish unemployment data, Yemi Kale should resign,” a twitter user tweeted.

Also, Ben Murray-Bruce, who was then a senator under the Peoples Democratic Party, kicked.

“The @MBuhari government should provide @sgyemikale, a @OfficialPDPNig appointee, with the funds to do his job even if the report exposes that this government has a poor unemployment record. Yemi Kale wont be treated like this in an @atiku administration”

Recently the bureau published the “Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria” after a decade.

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According to the report, 40.1 per cent of the total population in Nigeria was classified as poor, which implies that an average of four out of 10 adult individuals in Nigeria had real per capita expenditures below N137,430 per annum.

Globally, unemployment rates have since increased due to the lockdown on economic activities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic currently ravaging the world.

In the United States, one of the largest economies, about 20.5 million jobs were lost in April alone.





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