Lifting of the embargo on staff recruitment into the federal civil service is not one of the strategies on the card to reduce unemployment, the Federal Government said yesterday.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN), said doing so would be like a drop in the ocean and therefore not make the desired impact.
He spoke during the weekly ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Communication Team, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to him, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari targets more high-yielding approaches to tackle the prevailing alarming unemployment rate.
The minister was responding to a question on administration’s plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade while shutting the door against recruitment into the service.
Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister Mrs. Zainab Ahmed had in October 2019 announced the suspension of employment by the federal government to sustain the 2020 Budget.
The President restated the position last year it the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Keyamo said: “I think your question assumes that the kind of employment want to create is in civil service. That’s not the idea of employment. All around the world employment, public services employment account for less than one per cent of employment.
“So, it will be very short sighted of us as government, very myopic, very, like wrong game approach to think that we want to lift people out of poverty and create employment by opening up gaps in the civil service to employ people.
“How many are we going to employ for the 33% (unemployment rate) that we have now is so high.
“The unemployment figures are indefensible. The 33% was compounded more by the COVID scourge, the whole world is reeling from the COVID scourge. So, we need to react more innovatively to create employment.
“For us, we are working very hard to ensure that we skill up Nigerians. The way to approach on employment is to skill up the populace. That’s the way out, to encourage the small, the macro small and medium scale entrepreneurs, support their businesses, ensure that people are self-employed, skill them up.
“That’s what the N-Power is doing. In N-Power, whether you are a graduate or not, go and learn a skill so that you can be self-employed and feed yourself. Those are employment we are creating, those people who are skilling up.
So, the only way to know that we have fought unemployment is that in the next 10 years, we print out a 100 million letters. No.
“We want to skill up Nigerians; we want to empower them, support small businesses, empower Nigerians more so that they can be self employed.
“That I think is the way forward and that’s our own focus as a government to fight unemployment”, the Minister said.
The minister also said that approximately N24, 000, 817,800.00 billion had been paid out to more than 413,639 beneficiaries under the 774,000 Special Public Works (SPW) scheme as at June 24, 2021.
He also revealed that 413,630 Nigerians drawn from rural communities and mostly itinerant workers have been paid.
Contrary to critics’ belief that the SPW scheme may have failed over initial payment, it has achieved 60 per cent success rate.
The minister blamed the initial hitches on discrepancies noticed during the registration phase, especially with bank verification numbers.
Keyamo revealed that despite his attempts to ensure due diligence in the implementation of the programme, he uncovered that some fraudulent Nigerians opened multiple bank accounts under a single Bank Verification Number (BVN).
Besides, he said the COVID-19 lockdown that temporarily halted the implementation process, triggered the scheme’s expansion by the President to enable those in the lowest cadre of economic strata to benefit.
He said: “When we wanted to introduce the special social works scheme here in Nigeria, the President first approved the pilot scheme, because he thought, perhaps we needed to test run it to see what we can apply here.
“So, the first thing the President approved was that we should do eight states at that time. And not all the local governments just five, in selected states originally, that was in late 2019, then I just became minister.”
He went further to explain other interventions of the administration, saying, “so far, those we have paid have received their N60,000 for the three months, we saved so many lives across the country by this payment, some use their own to buy grinding machine, I just discovered a grinding machine costs about N45, 000.”