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Senate in Rowdy session  over disagreement on Nigeria’s unemployment Status

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja

The Senate was on Wednesday thrown into confusion  as the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP senators disagreed on additional prayers to a motion on the “Urgent need to curb the soaring rate of unemployment in Nigeria”.

Majority of the senators across party lines had supported the motion, sponsored by Senator Bassey Albert Akpan (PDP Akwa Ibom North-East), describing the unemployment rate in the country as a time bomb waiting to explode.

Trouble however started when the Minority Whip Senator Philip Aduda (PDP FCT) told a stunned Senate that it should also urged the APC-led federal government to immediately commence the payment of N5, 000 stipends to unemployed youths in the country as additional resolutions of the upper legislative chamber to the motion.

This drew the anger of the APC senators, many of who at that point quickly opposed it even as the Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio tried unsuccessfully to second the additional prayer.

After the PDP senators efforts, Senator Babajide Omoworare (APC Osun East) raised a point of order, cited Order 53 (6) of the Senate Standing Rules, that no senator shall raised any matter on the floor of the Senate after it must have been resolved.

The Order, which deals with Rules of Debate, reads: “It shall be out of order to attempt to reconsider any specific question upon which the Senate had come to a conclusion during through current session except upon a substantive motion for rescission”.

While Omoworare’s party members in the Senate were hailing him over the point of order raised, the opposition members shouted ” No! No! No!”Not satisfied with the situation on ground, Senator Omoworare, still with the support of APC senators, moved another additional prayer that “the immediate past federal government should be made to account for all the monies spent on SURE-P and other poverty alleviation programmes”.

The senate had earlier condemned the high rate of unemployment in the country, considering the huge bailout intervention funds expended by the government in various sectors over the years to boost domestic production capacity.

It, however, directed its relevant committees to investigate effective release, utilisation and performance of the various intervention funds to the various sectors of the economy by relevant government agencies.

The senate called on the federal government’s sub-national governments to intensify their efforts on employment generation activities in line with their various campaign promises.

It also asked the government to take bold steps to boost entrepreneurial development and employment capabilities of the nation’s economy, adding that it should integrate entrepreneurship, savings and investment culture and education into the educational curriculum at appropriate levels.

Senator Akpan, while presenting the motion, noted that the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS has revealed that the unemployment rate in Nigeria increased to 8.2 percent in the second quarter of 2015 from 7.5 percent in the first quarter and from 64 percent in the last quarter of 2014.

He expressed worry that “the latest statistics reveals that economically active population and working age comprising Nigerians within the age range of 15 to 64, is now 103.5million increasing from 102.8million in the first quarter of 2015 while unemployed labour force now stands at 74million Nigerian youths”.

The lawmaker  who said “this is truly a calamity”, lamented that the rate of job creation in the country is grossly inadequate to keep pace with the expanding working age and labour force population.

He affirmed that the nation’s quest to be among the top 20 economies in the world by 2020 is a mirage if urgent attention is not focused on employ generation and poverty reduction activities by all concerned.

Ruling on the motion, the senate president,  Bukola Saraki said unemployment issue in the country cut across party lines and should therefore be tackled by all through support for the governments.

He said, “The issue of unemployment did not know which party you belong. The issue of unemployment is a serious one. All over the years, Nigeria has seen growth, but this has not translate to real growth of the country”


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