Vanguard (Lagos)

12 November 2012

Nigeria: Budget 2013 - All Talk - No Jobs - 2

opinion

"In modern Japan the good of the nation [is] more important than the good of the class. A poor talented and diligent boy had a chance to rise as high as he could...modern Japan was perhaps the world's most efficient distillation system, in which remarkably little was wasted..a vital part of it was the education system: it supplied the nation with the right number of workers, the right number of engineers, and the right number of managers for every need of a modern society, but, also important, it brought to the poorest homes the sense that there were better possibilities for the children ", David Halberstam, in THE RECKONING, p 277.

The first part of this series on the 20I3 budget, and its likely impact on job creation, ended by condemning our education system; which, according to the Federal Minister of Finance, Okonjo-Iweala, produces unemployable graduates. It went further to ask why we continue to allocate funds to a system guaranteed to produce worthless graduates. By contrast, we can read above why Japan, in a record time, after the devastation of the Second World War, soon became the second (now third) largest economy in the world without oil or other raw material deposits.

"Numerous are the streams that lead to social prosperity, but, all spring from the same source; and, that is [good] public education". Gaspar Jovellanos, 1744-1811. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p46).

Now what did the President of Nigeria have to say on education; which is universally regarded as the key to economic, social and political development and pervasive prosperity in the 2013 budget? The reader will search in vain for a whole section dealing with this all-important sector out of the 54 sections.

Even "Thank you for your kind attention" (section 53) and "May God bless you all, and bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria" (section 54) received specific attention. But, education, according to Okonjo-Iweala and President Jonathan was not worthy of any attention. The kids of Japan are treated as a valuable resource.

Government does not "give a damn" about Nigerian youths. If we care less about their education, why lament about the outcome as the Minister of Finance does? The uncouth will point out that her kids are not here. But, we need not go that far to understand one of the basic reasons why youth unemployment is rising nationwide.

Let us now turn our attention to the main issue of this series - job creation. This is not the first time and it will not be the last the critical issue of jobs will feature on this page. The reason is simple. Governments, Federal, States and Local, have been lying to Nigerians about this potentially explosive social phenomenon.

Unfortunately, when the repercussions start, the violent demonstrations don't head for Government Reserved Areas, GRA I, to vent their frustrations and anger; they move to Government Rejected Areas, GRA II, to loot and vandalise. In short, co-victims end up being victimized for the crimes against "Fellow Countrymen" by insensitive governments.

Below is what President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, GEAJ, had to say to the National Assembly. Most people must have forgotten he is called Azikiwe; it was good to collect votes in 2011; the dupes, who fell for that trap, will live long to fall again in 2015.

"Fellow Compatriots...We have mentioned the 3.5 million jobs we aim to create in agriculture and millions more jobs in housing and construction sectors, solid mineral sector, aviationand the creative industry" (section 28).

This calls for a pause because this is very serious matter being treated as a joke by the Executive branch. The 3.5 million jobs were first promised in the 2011 budget; the same promise was repeated in the 2012 budget. The Presidency, which budgets over billions annually for power generation apparently has no budget for calculators.

When this figure was first trotted out I had published an article pointing out that in four years or 1440 days, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays included, government, in effect, was promising to create 8,750 jobs everyday. By the end of December 2012, half of the time would have expired.

Has government created almost 1.7 million jobs. The attempt by the Ministry of Investment to foist a lie on the nation, when the Minister announced that he had created 1.3 million jobs had been exposed on these pages. And is no further proof is needed that the 1.3 million jobs claim was a cruel hoax than the fact that the President dared not claim it in his 2013 budget as an achievement of his government.

Instead of almost 1.75 million jobs already created, what did Jonathan claim in the 2013 budget. Here we go.

"In my independence Day Speech, I spoke of the 80-110,000 jobs we are supporting young entrepreneurs to create through the You-Win programme". (section 29).

"We also have the Graduate internship Programme, in which enrolled private companies provide one-year internships to 50,000 graduates, paid by the Federal government. So far 700 firms and 20,000 have applied to participate in this scheme. (section 30).

Permit me to comment on the section 30 first because it says volumes about the insincerity of the Federal Government on this matter. First, President Jonathan must know that 50,000 graduates constitute a drop in the ocean of unemployed, or partially employed, graduates - they number millions now.

Second, it is deception of the worst kind to classify an internship programme with actual job creation. There is no guarantee that the interns will be offered permanent jobs at the end of the year. In fact, if care is not taken, the firms lining up will simply use the graduates as free labour to whom they owe no career prospects.

The You-Win Programme is also questionable in many respects. First of all, it limits severely the number of applicants and beneficiaries. Second, given the track record of all PDP administrations, since 1999, it will degenerate into a party affair.

The first Poverty Alleviation Programme, PAP, which was managed by Chief Tony Anenih, set the pattern for such programmes by PDP governments. (For more information on the PAP managed by Chief Anenih read my PDP: CORRUPTION INCORPORATED).

The You-Win Programme runs a very high risk of becoming a PDP Members kids-Win Programme. It will be interesting to read the complete list of the beneficiaries and to track how they actually spent the funds provided, instead of the WASOBIA (Aderonke Oyetunji, Robinson Omorogiuwa, and Ibrahim Mohammed) list of three success stories.

Incidentally, is there no minority success story? Why is it that Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa benefit first from any scheme (or scam) proposed by government? What have the minorities done to deserve second class citizenship?

Even You-Win will provide opportunities for 80-110,000 young persons. It is not clear how many jobs each of them will create. Elementary school arithmetic should reveal that both You-Win and internship will end up providing permanent to less than 300,000. Perhaps that was why the President skillfully side-stepped providing a figure telling us how many jobs this government has created in almost two years of trotting out the bogus 3.5 million jobs from agriculture alone.

Let us end this segment of the series by looking at the section titled Aviation and Airports, which was not numbered. In it the President talked about everything but jobs. This is understandable. First, the N600 billion Aviation Support Funds had vanished with very little to show in the way of new and safe aircrafts.

Instead, the flying coffins, we call planes, are dropping from the skies like ripe mangoes. Second, the Minister of Aviation, amply rewarded for her role in getting Jonathan elected is proving the validity of Peter's Principle, "Every executive sooner or later gets promoted beyond his level of competence". About seventeen airlines were operating when she took office; about seven now fly.

Meanwhile, the banking sector had become a slaughter house for peoples' careers. Banks, in the aggregate employ far fewer people than they did two years ago; and more are on the way to the unemployment wasteland.

Naturally, Jonathan failed to mention this. Why face reality when fairy tales are so entertaining?

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