Nigeria boosts job creation with safety net job for unskilled persons


• Condemns slave labour

The Federal Government has initiated a safety net-job for unskilled persons, as a strategy to move a significant percentage of untrained, un-trainable and idle youths out of the unemployment population.

The Director, Special Duties and Project, Federal Ministry Labour and Employment, Dr. Martina Nwordu, revealed this at a National Survey for Generation of Baseline Data on Unskilled Persons in Nigeria, which took place in Bauchi. She said the Ministry decided to embark on the survey in response to President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.She, however, said the ability of the country to deliver on the milestone depends largely on the cooperation of relevant sectors especially social of which the Labour Ministry is a part.She classified unskilled persons as young persons in the age bracket of 12 to 30 years with educational qualification in the verge of nil to Senior Secondary School Certificate.

She noted that while the younger age bracket of 12 to 15 years are usually found in religious, charity and humanitarian institutions established for the poor, those above this range are commonly seen at street corners, market places, motor parks, and other dark and dangerous areas of the society from where they unleashed various forms of mayhem at the slightest provocation.

Nwordu further reiterated that information on exact numbers of this critical population of the country, disaggregated by their location, accessibility and poverty status are not well-documented.She said this has made planning and implementation of intervention strategies for them most “knee-jerk or reactive in nature with little or no sustainability consideration.”

Against this backdrop and in efforts toward filling this data gap and building a solid statistical framework for action, the Ministry embarked on a nationwide data generation exercise, which is expected to yield an initial descriptive data base on the targeted population.She identified the formal and informal institutions targeted for the survey as homes for the poor established by NGOs, FBOs and International Organisations, Live-in Educational Institutions established for the homeless youths by religious bodies and Faith Based Organisations, Market Touts Unions, Street Urchins and Area Boys Groups and IDPs camps.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has condemned the practice of subjecting Nigerian workers to working conditions reminiscent of slave labour.Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, expressed Government’s displeasure in Abuja.He cautioned employers of labour in Nigeria, especially foreign nationals, against maltreating workers, subjecting them to appalling working conditions, and punishing them for minor offences and under flimsy excuses.

He added: “Nigeria is not a breeding ground for slaves. Nigerian workers are not slaves to be subjected to horrendous conditions and exploited. Employers of labour should not cash in on the vulnerability of unemployed Nigerians desperate for employment.”Keyamo stated that under the proposed Review of Labour Laws, government would put in place laws that guard against employers subjecting employees to inhumane treatments that take away their safety and dignity.
He disclosed that laws on safety at work, child labour and others would be comprehensively explored in the process of review, noting that the international community is concerned about child labour.     

Keyamo observed that many labour laws in operation have not been properly protecting workers in Nigeria, and needed to be reviewed, adding that the directive by President Buhari for that review was borne out of his concern about the plight of Nigerian workers.He said the Ministry, in collaboration with its social partners, as part of the review process, had called for memoranda from the public, aimed at facilitating and enriching the process.

According to him, a lot of memos had come in, and the Ministry, the social partners and other stakeholders “would soon commence the process of sieving through and compartmentalising those memos.”He further said government had also come up with many schemes to boost the socio-economic wellbeing of those on the lower rung of the social ladder, employed and unemployed alike, and have included a job creation strategy known as Public Works Scheme, to be carried out in five local government areas each in eight pilot states.

Keyamo noted that under the scheme, which had already taken off in Borno State, 1,000 beneficiaries per local government would engage in community work peculiar to their locality and would be paid N20,000 a month for three months.The payment would serve as seed money for the beneficiaries to set up micro enterprises.

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