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OLIVER OKEKE: The Forex and unemployment discussion in Nigeria




Nigerians have so much “acclimatised” with the US dollars and taste for foreign goods that they don’t care about the perennial problem and unfavourable conditions it portends for the shoemaker in Aba or the seamstress in Onitsha. When Nigerians discuss the prevailing unemployment rate in the country, they tend to forget that depending solely on import is a conduit channel for exporting labour and creating unemployment in Nigeria. The shoemaker in Aba and the Onitsha seamstress need serious patronage to grow and create employment. 

Patronising them will bring about expansion in production capacity, which means more growth and the ability to employ. No import dependent country survives the throes of recession without wounds. We should look inwardly. Import substitution industrialization is a better alternative to the importation of assorted rubbish. Reduce the pressure on forex and the prices of dollar, euro, pound, yen, etc., will fall astronomically. 

Many big time Nigerian importers are multimillionaire in dollars, but building factories to create employment and reduce pressure on forex has become a mirage to them. Paucity of electricity, not fund, has been their main reason for their lackluster attitude towards industrialization but the main reason beneath their excuse is maximization of profit via importation.

Interest in local production and consumption will reduce the pressure on forex and generate employment. 

Oliver Okeke is a businessman, writer and political analyst based in Anambra State. He's an alumnus of University of Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria.

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