Unemployment: Have Nine Million Nigerians Lost Their Jobs Since 2015?

A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and one of the Presidential aspirants for the 2019 elections, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, on Wednesday, 16th May 2018 said that nine million Nigerians lost their jobs since the present government of Muhammadu Buhari came to power in 2015.

He said this during the inauguration of his campaign support organization in Awka, Anambra State. In his words: “Nine million people have lost their jobs since Buhari came to power in 2015. Under Buhari, Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world. Nigeria with less than 200 million people has overtaken India, with 1.2 billion people. We have more people that are poor”, he added.


CLAIM 1: Nine million Nigerians lost their jobs since Buhari came to power in 2015.

CLAIM 2: Nigeria with less than 200 million people has more poor people than India with 1.2 billion in population.

CLAIM 3: Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world.


To verify these claims, information was obtained from the speaker, Moghalu; the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS); and the Statistician General of the Federation, Dr Yemi Kale. NBS is Nigeria’s official agency saddled with the responsibility to periodically produce and disseminate accurate data covering macroeconomic, financial, social, and economic sectors. NBS also provides the official statistics on employment and unemployment rates, as well as other labour related information in Nigeria.

It is important to add that for the purposes of this fact check, we would focus on CLAIM 1. This is because DUBAWA has conducted a research on CLAIMS 2 AND 3.

Also, the period under review would be the second quarter (Q2) of 2015 to date, as Pres. Muhammadu Buhari was sworn into power on the 29th of May, 2015.


“Nine million is a conservative figure considering the fact that the National Bureau of Statistics is yet to release unemployment figures for periods between last quarter of 2017 to date”, said Moghalu who Dubawa immediately contacted. Moghalu also directed DUBAWA to the official authority for statistics on the Nigerian population, NBS.

According to the data on the NBS website, 9.8 million Nigerians have become unemployed between Q2 of 2015 and Q3 of 2017 which was the last time NBS released data on unemployment figures.

In Q2 2015, 6.1m Nigerians were unemployed. It increased to 7.5m in Q3 2015 (showing an increase of 1.4m people); 8.0m in Q4 2015 (increase of 0.5m people); 9.4m in Q1 2016 (increase of 1.4m people); 10.6m in Q2 2016 (increase of 1.2m); 11.2m in Q3 2016 (increase of 0.6m); 11.5m in Q4 2016 (increase of 0.3m); 13.6m in Q2 2017 (increase of 2.1m) and by Q3 2017 (the last period as obtained from NBS), 15.9m Nigerians were unemployed, marking a 2.3m increase.

Unemployment: Have Nine Million Nigerians Lost Their Jobs Since 2015?
Unemployment in Nigeria (Q2, 2015 – Q3, 2017)

Adding the increases, it shows that about 9.8 million Nigerians entered into the unemployment pool at one point in time or the other, and at the average rate of 1.2m, it is likely that at present, more than 10 million Nigerians have been unemployed or may have lost their jobs since 2015.

But does unemployment translate to “loss of jobs” and does the fact that people lose their jobs at a particular time mean that they did not regain employment at a later date?


There is no standard definition of unemployment, however, countries adopt the International Labour Organization (ILO) definition and adapt it to suit their local priorities. In Nigeria, the definition of unemployment covers persons(aged 15–64) who during the reference period were currently available for work, actively seeking for work but were without work.

Thus, voluntary full-time housewives, underage children 14 and below, adults above 65, full-time students, those who left their jobs for a Master’s programme, those in active military service, physically challenged and incapacitated persons whose in-capitation prevents them from working would not be classified as unemployed.

From this definition, it is obvious that unemployment may be as a result of a number of variables other than loss of jobs. The unemployment rate could increase if the labour force increases and job creation is stagnant or decreases. In fact, in Q3 2015, about 427,000 new net jobs were created. However, this was inadequate to match the over 1.9mn new entrants into the labour market.

Buttressing this point, Dr Yemi Kale says that “3-4 million new people are entering the labour market every year in search of work and these cannot be classified as losing jobs because they never had a job yet to even lose in the first place. A rise in unemployment can consequently be as a result of both job losses as well as due to new entrants into the market that haven’t yet found jobs.”

Also, a loss in full time employed workers may not necessarily be regarded as job losses. This is because people may choose to work fewer hours, thus becoming underemployed or people like intending students or new mothers may choose to leave full-time employment entirely or temporarily.


NBS also has data on job creation and losses, although it is not comprehensive and up-to-date, due to inadequate funding. Contained in the reports are the summaries of the estimates for jobs created in the Nigerian economy for the Third Quarter of 2012 – Third Quarter of 2016.

Unemployment: Have Nine Million Nigerians Lost Their Jobs Since 2015?
Total Jobs Created All Sectors [Source: National Bureau of Statistics]

The table above shows the job creation figures for the period under review, Q2 2015 – Q3 2016. The figures for job losses, on the other hand, were not explicitly stated and the data available could not be used to generate a figure(s) for job loss.


The claim by Prof. Moghalu that nine million Nigerians lost their jobs since 2015 is hard to prove. If Moghalu was referring to the unemployment rate, then he would’ve been accurate as more than 9 million Nigerians have become unemployed since 2015. However, he was referring to the loss of jobs which CANNOT BE PROVEN because of the unavailability of official records. For an acclaimed economist, we are uncertain if this was a deliberate act of misinformation or a mistake of omission.

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