FACT CHECK: Has job loss been peculiar to Buhari-led government as claimed by Reno Omokri?

As the defection bug continues to hit the All Progressive Congress, APC, members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have not only been talking tough, they have also been stalking the opposition with claims and counterclaims.

One of such members of the former ruling Party whose voice has been loudest is Reno Omokri, former media aide of ex-President Goodluck Johnathan.

In a series of tweets from Omokri, he references the NBS report on the unemployed Nigerians in the last quarter of 2017. He claims that unemployment rate has been worse under the current administration than it did in previous administrations.

“The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) just released another jobs report showing that in the last 21 months under reviewing, an additional 7.9 million Nigerians became unemployed under Buhari. This is the first government since 1999 that has never reported job gains, only job losses!” Reno’s tweet read.

“Such job losses never happened under the @PDPOfficial” he claimed in another tweet.

TheEcho‘s Yusuf Akinpelu checks the correctness of the claim.

What does it mean to be unemployed in Nigeria?

Each country has different methods of measuring unemployment. In South Africa, for instance, anyone who works for more than one hour per week is regarded as employed.

However, in Nigeria such is not the case. Since 2014, the National Bureau of Statistics counts people working fewer than 20 hours per week as unemployed and those working 20 to 39 hours as underemployed.

“Our previous threshold for the definition of unemployment was based on a Nigerian definition of full-time employment, which was an individual working 40 hours a week,” Dr Yemi Kale, Nigeria’s Statistician General, had said at the launch of Premium Times Dubawa fact-checking platform.

He added that: “in the UK context, this meant that the entire population of full-time workers in the UK working between 35 and 39 hours may have been considered as unemployed in Nigeria.”

Therefore, unemployment rate is not a measure of what obtains in other countries or how rich or poor the populace is. It is a function of the hours of work. So how much of this rate has been seen in this past dispensation?

Job losses was experienced under the PDP

The 2011 Performance Monitoring Report of Government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies indicates that in Nigeria in 2010, 21.1% the unemployment rate but it increased to 23.9% in 2011.

It is worthy of note that Mr. Jonathan, Reno Omokri’s boss assumed office as Nigeria’s substantive president on May 6, 2010, a day after the death of Umaru Yar’Adua, another PDP President. Mr Jonathan continued as president in 2011 after winning the presidential election; and was sworn in for a fresh four-year term on May 29, 2011.

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Also, in June 2013, a report, Nigeria Economic Report, released by the World Bank, unemployment rate in the country worsened from “12% of the working population in 2006 to 24% in 2011.”

The report added that: “Preliminary indications are that this upward trend continued in 2012.”

This implies that from the tail end of Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, all through President Yaradua and President Jonathan’s role as substantive president, job losses and unemployment rate rose! Though the extent to which Reno’s use of “such” in his tweet is to be interpreted is not clear-cut. What is clear-cut is that the continuous increase in the trend of unemployment underscores Reno’s claim of “this being the first government since 1999 that has reported job losses alone.”

Also, in 2014, 16 young people were reported to have died in stampedes due to the jostle for job in an Immigration job test. In the tragedy, over 125,000 job seekers applied for 4,500 jobs with Nigeria’s immigration service. Asides this, thousands were equally reported to have fainted from stampede and exhaustion.

12th consecutive rise in unemployment

Within the last quarters of 2014 and 2018, the country has experienced consecutive rise in the rate of unemployment. Nigeria’s unemployment rate currently stands at 18.8%. This is the twelfth consecutive rise since the last quarter of 2014 — which covers the entirety of Buhari’s regime and the tail end of Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

In absolute numbers, according to the data from the NBS from July to September 2017, while a total of 51.1 million people are in full-time employment, or working at least 40 hours a week, the number of people who were unemployed had increased to an estimated 15.9 million, while the underemployed were at about 18 million (21.2%).

Combined, 40% of the country’s labour force were therefore either underemployed or had no job.

So, the Buhari-led administration which came into power in May 2015 has seen consecutive rise in the unemployment rate. This affirms Reno’s claim of the current administration recording continuous job losses, though his claim of it being the “first government since 1999” cannot hold water.

Conclusion

It is false that Buhari’s administration is the “first government since 1999” that has never recorded job gains, only job losses — Yaradua’s, as well as Jonathan’s administrations also recorded the same ‘feat’.

It is also not true that the kind of job losses under the APC “never happened under the PDP”. A World Bank report proved otherwise.

Generally, unemployment is not peculiar to the current administration alone. Past administrations of the PDP experienced it too. It is a general trait that has ridden governments of the PDP and that of APC.

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