‘Why unemployment rate is high’

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Outgoing President, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Peter Esele, has said unemployment in the country is caused by government’s red tapism.

Esele, during an interview with The Nation, said the government’s bureaucracy is scaring away investors.

The TUC chief, who will be leaving office next month, said the government should create enabling environment to attract both local and foreign investments to generate employment.

His words: “One of the things I think the government can do is create enabling environment. I was discussing with a couple of investors, who can create mass housing for the workers. One of them is a Briton; the other, a Nigerian. We have about 17 million gaps in our housing need. The Briton told me the money to build the 17 million houses was not a problem, because that can be achieved in a matter of 15, 20 years. But the bottleneck is the government’s bureaucracy.

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“The bureaucratic bottleneck is key because they have to go through so much to achieve so little. And they must have a lot of patience. The Briton has lived in Nigeria for 42 years. He is almost a Nigerian now, and he is still complaining. That tells you that the government should create a systemic approach, and create that environment for people to come and put their money.”

Esele said the investors he discussed with told him about how they invested in a state and the government signed a purchase agreement, that they should come and build houses for its workers. They quoted the state government as saying it would guarantee workers to buy the houses the investors were invited to build, that they (government) would help workers to pay 10 per cent of it, he said. And the government reneged on that agreement. How can one expect any firm to invest in a state like that? he asked.

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Suggesting ways out of unemployment, Esele said the government should look at the infrastructure. “We are hoping that going forward with the planned privatisation and what the government is planning, that in 10 years, things would change,” he said.

He added that improper or lack of planning has brought the nation to where it is in terms of infrastructure.

“In 10 years, our population would have exploded because it is ever expanding.

“Meanwhile, our infrastructure is not expanding in the same digit with the population. That, too, is also a major problem. So, the government needs to do its home work properly. It should create an enabling environment because the government alone cannot reduce unemployment. It has to be a composite holistically approach. That is the only way,” he said.

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