The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has dismissed the new methodology employed by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in determining the level of unemployment and underemployment in Nigeria, describing it as “an act deliberately antithetical to Nigeria’s lived reality.”
CSJ’s statement was in response to the NBS’s release of its latest Nigeria Labour Force Statistics (NLFS) Report, which showed that unemployment in Nigeria fell from 5.3% in the fourth quarter of 2022 to 4.1% in the first quarter of 2023.
CSJ rejected the NBS’s findings, arguing that they are not supported by the increasing unemployment in Nigeria since the last report in 2020 which reported 33.3% unemployment rate in Nigeria.
It said since 2020, Nigeria’s economic challenges have increased with galloping inflation, factory closures, rural dwellers who have been prevented by insecurity from planting and harvesting and a public sector with a moratorium on new recruitments.
The Lead Director of CSJ, Eze Onyekpere said “the whole basis of a job report is to help the government to determine whether its plans, policies and laws geared at reducing unemployment are achieving the desired milestones, adding that: “What is the point of a job report that tells the government that more Nigerians are employed when it is a clear and notorious fact that unemployment is increasing?
“The NBS is counting people who are working for at least one hour in a week or who are self-employed in low-productivity activities as ‘employed,’” said Onyekpere. “This is not an accurate reflection of the reality of the Nigerian labor market.”
He decried that the report t: “Simply to satisfy a fad, it is a waste of tax payers money to produce a report that adds no value to the Nigerian people and their economy,” stressing that CSJ believes that these statistics do not in any way reflect the prevailing economic challenges experienced by Nigerians, especially in recent times.
Before the latest report, Nigeria’s last unemployment data was released in the fourth quarter of 2020, leaving a substantial gap in our understanding of the employment situation. CSJ had previously emphasized the urgency for the NBS to provide up-to-date employment data for the years 2021 and 2022.
The statement said CSJ recognizes that a robust job report serves as a crucial tool for governmental planning and policy evaluation. However, the reported unemployment rate of 4.1% in the NLFS raises serious concerns about the relevance and accuracy of the methodology and the relevance of the findings to the lived experiences of Nigerians.
“This reported rate is incongruent with the economic challenges faced by a significant percentage of the population. “We call on the NBS to reconsider its methodology and ensure that it accurately captures the full spectrum of employment challenges faced by Nigerians. It is essential that job reports reflect the realities and provide an honest assessment of the economic landscape. Only through accurate data can the government develop effective strategies that deliver on its promises and address the pressing issues facing our nation,” Onyekpere said.
CSJ also called on the government to ignore the report, take steps to create more decent jobs and to improve the livelihoods of Nigerians.