In any country, you would expect figures on unemployment to be released on a regular basis. But this has not been the case with Nigeria. For more than a year, the country has not been recording data on unemployment because of lack of funds.
For a country like Nigeria, these figures would be very important. The Statistics Office seemingly is not of that opinion. They have cited a constricted budget as their defence for not releasing such vital information.
The most recent figures are for the third quarter of last year. The work on more latest figures could not be completed because of "budgetary releases." The angle that an observer would take is that since elections in Nigeria are now approaching, releasing figures on unemployment would not be the wisest thing to do politically. Buhari's administration has not been the most satisfactory.
The country's Statistician-General, Yemi Kale, dismissed this claim, insisting that figures have not seen the light of day because of lack of funds. He wrote on his Twitter account, "U guys need to stop this. I know it’s election time but I’ve said this repeatedly. Nobody is calling me to manipulate any data or not to release any data. The work can’t be completed due to budgetary releases. It’s not hard to confirm when last we got data funding and how much."
Considering how the Buhari administration has not managed to keep unemployment levels down, questions are bound to rise. Such a large economy failing to fund the publishing of unemployment data? Elections are an important issue for the incumbent and creating good optics would be favourable. Or, the country genuinely cannot afford to record unemployment figures.
When the figures were last recorded, that is in the third quarter of last year, unemployment stood at 18.8%. Now, this is the highest figure of unemployment in Nigeria since at least 2010. When Buhari came to power in 2015, the official rate of unemployment has doubled. So, could these be attempts to veil up apparent evidence of failing to tame rising unemployment since elections are coming?
Consider the issue that Kale did not immediately respond to calls by Bloomberg for more information on this matter.
Header Image: The Guardian Nigeria