Chief Audu Ogbeh, minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has picked holes in the recently released third quarter report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), indicating that over four million jobs were lost under the present administration in 2017.
Ogbeh, at a press briefing on the National Egg Production Scheme (NEGPRO) in Abuja, faulted those he called ‘calculators of Nigeria’s economic indices’ for reporting job losses in the formal sector without noting that millions of jobs had been created in the informal sector.
The NBS report had stated that the country’s unemployment rate rose from 14.2% to 18.8% in 2017.
The reported job losses came on the heels of the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign promise to create 3million jobs annually, if it came into power.
Ogbeh claimed that there was no difference between income earned in the village and that earned in the towns and cities; pointing out that farmers; across the villages were getting richer.
Ogbeh said “In many of the states, communities have become richer. In some of the states; the last Hajj was funded; people bought their tickets; foreign exchange and travelled, they paid their way and went on Hajj in many of the northern states.
“Let me correct an impression; I’ve been reading in newspapers that Nigeria has lost four million jobs in the last two years and it became a campaign. But let me make it clear, if we’ve lost 4million jobs in the cities and in the factories; we’ve actually created six million jobs on the farms.
“Let no one pretend that income earned in the village is not the same as income elsewhere. There may have been some job losses; but there have been some job creation efforts in the rural areas because you will find this in many places that villagers are getting richer than many of us in the cities. In my village, the Cashew Association sold cashew worth over N150m and I am always proud to say that I taught them how to grow cashew nuts. And when I go home, I get palm wine in salutation.
“So, when the calculators of the economic indices of Nigeria talk, they don’t know what is going on below. I am in a position to say so because I see it. With this NEGPRO coming on board, another one million jobs would be added.”
However, the NBS report indeed stated that the nation’s labour population increased from 83.9 million in the second quarter of 2017, a difference of 1.2million in additional workforce.