ABUJA - Nigeria's unemployment numbers jumped by nearly 30 percent this year to 16 million, according to a November report by the National Bureau of Statistics. Another two million are expected to be unemployed by the end of the year. The negative trend comes just ahead of February presidential elections.
Nigerian Josh Okere prepares to hit the streets again looking for work. For nearly six years since graduation, he's been seeking employment.
"You set out from your house in the morning not knowing where you are going to, you're just having that hope, that belief, that when you go out you'll find something,” he said.
Nigeria’s official unemployment figures jumped by 30 percent this year to 16 million with another two million expected by the end of the year. But less than forty percent of Nigeria's nearly 200 million people are fully employed.
Economist Eze Onyekpere, says unemployment cuts across Nigeria’s economy.
"It's also a product of the policy choices you make in your trade policy, labor policy, in your industrial, even in your education policy, in your health policy," he said. "It's just a demonstration of the faith that people have in your economy and how productive it is and the quality of goods and services you are preparing... producing in the country. So we have a government with that is, with all the greatest respect, that is virtually clueless about economic policies."
Nigeria overtook India this year as having the largest number of people living in extreme poverty — 87 million — according to the Washington-based Brookings Institution.
Nigeria’s February elections are likely to see unemployment and poverty dominate the agenda of political parties seeking votes.
But political analyst Lanre Osho says new economic policy proposals are unlikely.
"Those who are watchers of Nigeria’s economy will have noticed that the economy has been fixated for a while. You know we have a very.. peculiar policy in Nigeria that..that freezes our economy around elections,” said Osho.
Nigeria edged-out of its worst recession in nearly three decades in September last year and made bouts of economic growth. But unemployment and poverty have yet to see a positive impact.
Nigeria needs to create four million new jobs per year to reverse the negative trends, a huge challenge for whoever wins February’s elections.