An oil exploration expert, Dr Layi Fatona, says amid the economic downturn as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment market in Nigeria may rise to 30 per cent in the future.
Mr Latona, the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Exploration and Production Company, said this on Wednesday in his Lecture at the 12th Convocation of Crawford University, Igbesa, Ogun.
In his convocation lecture entitled “Entrepreneurship: Impact on Youth and National Development’’, urged Nigerian graduates to brace up to the 21st century challenges and fight for sustainability.
The scholar said that entrepreneurial studies in higher institutions could be the only help the youth would need to get meaningful livelihood in the spate of rising unemployment in the country.
“I will like to share some basic statistics. The average number of graduates produced by Nigeria’s 308 degree awarding institutions, including 134 polytechnics and 174 universities alone are some 600,000 yearly over the past five years.
“The unemployment rate of our young workforce in 2015 was 7.8 per cent; in 2016 it rose to 12.48 per cent; in 2017, 13.96 per cent, while 2018 was undefined and 2019, 13.96 per cent.
“2020 witnessed a trite of new entrants into the unemployment market as the Federal Government-owned universities have been on strike most of the academic year.
“Yet, the disturbing statistics showed that the number of unemployed in Nigeria by Quarter 2 had risen to 27 per cent and at the year end, estimated at some 30 per cent, (Source: National Bureau of Statistics (NBS),’’ he said.
Latona said the statistics derived from NBS was evident that the unemployment rate at the last quarter of the 2020 would approach 30 per cent, adding that entrepreneurships was the only possible solution.
“Entrepreneurship remains the more attractive option for all the new graduates as it will be a viable means to arrest and reverse the trend of the ever-increasing unemployment in our society.
“Entrepreneurs by the notion of who they are really have become some of the most powerful transformers and why not by extension should this be so for Nigeria and our youths?’’
The Crawford University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Reuben Kolo, said that the 12th Convocation was significant as it coincided with the university’s 15th anniversary.
“Since inception on Nov. 30, 2005, when the university opened its doors to its first set of students, it has been striving hard to ensure the great vision of its founding fathers.
“We have sustained our pride as a centre of excellence, producing graduates with a balanced education of the mind, body and spirit to serve God and humanity.
“In this 12th convocation, we are launching a total of 313 graduands into the global market to make their mark. The graduands have been groomed in the knowledge of their various disciplines with biblical teachings.
“The graduates are now expected to go out into the global market and make positive impact. They are expected to begin to contribute actively and robustly to national and global development,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 24 graduands made the first class category, 135 made the Second Class, Upper Division, while 128 made Second Class Lower Division.
Mr Damilare Kolawole of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences emerged the overall best student with a Cumulative Grade Point Avarage, CGPA, of 4.88 from Computer Science and Technology.