When John Maynard Keynes – the founder of economics thoughts postulated that the easiest economic problem to solve is unemployment I guess he never imagined a country like Nigeria will exist. Keynes never imagined an economy so blessed with resources (human and material) will be so porous to other economies to import almost every consumable item you can think of.
His idea of solving unemployment problem is to divide all the unemployed members of the population into 2 groups. One group will be asked to dig big holes and get paid for it and the other group will be asked to fill up the holes and also get paid for it. By the time this process is repeated over and over again unemployment will disappear.
This is so because he assumed that the new purchasing powers of the unemployed that are involved in digging and filling of the holes will increase effective demand in the country and consequently, the manufacturers will have to produce more to satisfy the new demands. The need to increase production will make manufacturers to employ more labor which will be supplied from the unemployed population. The process will continue to shrink up the unemployed labor and unemployment will eventually disappear.
The federal government recently commenced the implementation of its Social Investment Programs (SIP) by
1. Paying N5,000 monthly stipends to the poorest and most vulnerable in the country through the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) of the government’s. This policy will ensure one million Nigerians would receive monthly stipends of N5,000 as a form of social safety net.
2. Paying N30,000 monthly to 500,000 unemployed graduates under the N-power volunteer Corp program after engaging them as either farm extension workers, assistant teachers in schools or community health aids.
3. The government also commenced the Government Economic Empowerment Program (GEEP) where soft loans ranging from N10,000 to N100,000 will be provided for artisans, trades and market women.
4. There is also the National Home-grown School Feeding program designed to feed 5.5 million school children for 200 school days in a year. The program have started only in 3 state.
These programs are laudable and akin to the unemployment solution postulated by Keynes several decades ago. But they may not have the desired effect that John Maynard Keynes opined that his unemployment solution will have until the issue of power supply is fixed and the government finds the courage to discourage the importation of product that have local substitutes.
Until these two economic issues are addressed, the over N20billion stable allowances will only continue to create jobs in countries where goods are manufactured for Nigerian markets.