The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige, has warned that Nigeria may explode sooner if unemployment in the country is not tackled urgently.
The minister disclosed this in Enugu at the weekend where he received an award from the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) alongside other alumni.
While taking a critical look at the alarming rate of unemployment in the nation, the minister said that if the problem is not tackled frontally, with the seriousness and commitment it deserved, the country would become one hell of unrest such as Venezuela, adding that the uprising might consume everybody.
He noted that the symptoms of social unrest are very much around in the country , saying that President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has however fashioned out some measures to deal with unemployment in the country.
“So, unemployment is growing into a big cankerworm. It is growing into a very vicious disease condition that has given rise to a lot of anti-social behaviours. And government is seriously worried because if we don’t confront unemployment head on with many measures which we are fashioning out now, then the whole country will be consumed with social unrest.
“The symptoms are there. Boko Haram is a symptom of unemployment in Nigeria. IPOB is a symptom of unemployment and desperation and people getting frustrated. Same goes for banditry in the North West. Same goes for kidnapping all over the country. Avengers – the destruction of oil pipelines, OPC – all these are symptoms of very serious underlying disease condition called unemployment.
“All arsenals, everything will be put into place, so that we can fight unemployment. Otherwise, it will consume everybody. It will consume me and you, pressmen.
“It is already showing when you are on traffic and people are knocking on your car window to ask you to give them your phone. If you don’t give them, they will attack you. That is the big malaise.
“One day, they will stop people from eating in their houses. They will knock and say, bring your food and let us share it. We don’t want it to get to that. We have tried as a country. We were on the same pedestal with Venezuela. We were lucky President Muhammadu Buhari came in; if not, we will be on the same scale with Venezuela. We would have all dispersed into neighbouring countries.
“We would have had social unrest that would be internecine and by now, we would not have solved it. So, we are on with our thinking caps. We are bringing everything we have on the table to see how we do it.
“Even the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in the last council reiterated that any contract for construction, infrastructural development will have to indicate the quantum of new jobs to be created by doing so. There are other things we are doing as government to see how we can ameliorate the situation.”
“So, government for the next level will fashion out ways and means to deal with unemployment. We are doing something but I think what we are doing is not enough. Government has used diversification into agriculture to fight unemployment. Yes, it was successful where people agreed to turn themselves into farmers. We have also used ad-hoc procedures like Npower programme. It is like a drop of water in the Ocean. We have employed through that process 500,000 people, about half a million.
“But we have those searching for white collar jobs in the neighbourhood of about 15 million. So, we have to do something; to teach people new vocations, new skills, so that not all will be going for white collar jobs.
“Even if you have a university degree, you can be thought some skills so that you employ yourself or even get employed somehow. So, we are going to do that or it is on the table.”
The UNN College of Medicine at the weekend honoured its alumnus such as Dr Chris Ngige, Dr. Peter Odili, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, for their contributions to the upliftment of the college, and also the international businessman, Prince Arthur Eze, as well as Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who received award for good governance.