Only a tenth of the 2.5 to three million young Nigerian who enter the labour market annually find anything that meets the International Labour Organisation’s definition of a decent job, Oby Ezekwesili has said.
The former minister and presidential aspirant spoke on Monday at the 26th edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit.
She said deregulation of the economy is the solution to unemployment and underemployment and not a social investment programme.
Speaking as one of the panelists discussing the country’s path to recovery, she said the telecom sector was not contributing to the nation’s GDP until it was liberalised and deregulated.
“Only 10 percent of the young people who enter the labour market of the nearly two and a half to three million of them would find anything that the International Labour Organisation defines as a decent job.
“We should say to ourselves, where are the rest? What are they doing? A lot of the time, public officials don’t like deregulation. I remember when we did the one for the telecom sector, the then minister hated the economic team because it was the end of an era.
“Government officials, across Africa love where they can make the decisions because the decision point is the point of control and opportunity but to the detriment of the rest of society,” Mrs Ezekwesili said.
She said the oil and gas sector would have contributed much more to the economy if it was liberalised and deregulated and not sat on by the president.
She noted that during the two recessions the country has had, when other sectors of the economy were going in the negative direction of contribution to growth, the unregularised telecom sector is holding the economy up.
“So imagine what would happen if we had decided on a massive agenda of deregulation of the economy?”
She also said the federal government’s plan to invest in the national carrier when it had barely recovered from the investment it made on it is basically punishing the poor.
“When you go investing in sectors that private money would find interesting and engage inefficiently as we saw in telecom, you are basically punishing your poor. Your poor need the slim resources that you have got, the resources should go to pro-poor investments. These investment matters because that is what leads people to the place where they can engage in economic activities,” she said.
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