Speech as the Special Guest

of honour to declare the

Seventh Annual National Conference of

State Manpower Committees

open at Hill Station Hotel, Jos

on the 2nd May 2001.


The Chief Host, The Executive Governor of Plateau State, Chief Joshua Dariye;

The Economic Adviser to the President, Chief Philip Asiodu;

Chairman, National Manpower Board Governing Council, Dr. Pat Utomi

Executive Secretary, National Manpower Board,

Chairmen Secretaries & Members Of State Manpower Committees & Local Government Manpower Units,

Distinguished Guests;

Gentlemen of the Press;

Ladies and Gentlemen.

I wish to express my profound gratitude and appreciation for being invited as a Special Guest of Honour to declare the Seventh Annual National Conference of the State Manpower Committees open. First, I wish to extend my appreciation to the Chief Host, the Executive Governor of Plateau State for granting us the privilege of being in this beautiful and cherished City of Jos. 

The presence of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President doubly underscores the importance of the Conference and the great expectations the Government places on its outcome. In the same vein let me join the Chairman of the Occasion, Dr. Pat Utomi, who currently is the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Board, to welcome all of you to the Conference.

I want to congratulate all the participants for the opportunity offered by the medium of the Conference to contribute to the formulation of manpower policies and programmes for the nation. ” ongfatuate the Executive Secretary of National Manpower Board and his Management Staff for hosting this crucial Conference to brainstorm on pertinent Human Resources Development and Utilization issues of the nation. More specially for the choice of the topic, “Full Employment as Veritable Tool for Poverty Eradication in Nigeria.

I consider this very topical and the conference timely particularly now that Government is preoccupied with the eradication of high unemployment rate and the high incidence of poverty on the populace. I am told that the participation of the officials of Local Government Manpower Units (LOGMUs) is given special focus in this Conference. 

That implies that all the three tiers of Government are present. The significance of this Conference, therefore can be understood within the context of the need for an overall manpower panning at all levels of Governments. This is in line with the National Manpower Board enabling Decree No. 18 of 1991 which provides for co-ordination of the manpower policies and programmes of Federal, State and Local Governments by NMB. 

The problem of abject poverty among Nigerians has been with us since the early 1980s following the collapse of the international crude oil market and the situation has been deteriorating over the years.

Poverty Profile for Nigeria 1980 – 1996, a Study of the Federal Office of Statistics (FOS), adequately depicts the severity of the incidence of poverty in the country. According to the report, 28.1% or 17.7 million Nigerians lived below poverty line in 1980. The figure galloped to 65.6% or 67.1 million, sixteen (16) years later in 1996. In his latest publication-the Human Factor in National Development, Nigeria- Prof. T. M. Yusuf put the incidence of poverty among Nigerians at 80% of total population. 

The findings of the Federal Office of Statistics also reveals that the incidence of poverty is above the national average among rural populations, households who have no-formal education, with many members, headed by females as well as those engaged in agriculture and forestry and unemployed persons are the worst hit.

While the seemingly intractable unemployment and associated poverty have continued to grow, the country’s industrial capacity utilization has been declining, rural-urban migration is exacerbating, education and training – actual skill development and utilization keep stagnating. Stateism preventing inter-state labour mobility and bands of ethnic militias of unemployed youths are infesting the national terrain. 

The above scenarios constitute the main issues for discourse during the current Conference. The participants are therefore called upon to thoroughly examined and proffer policy recommendations on how to combat the problems derived from deep seated neglect of the basic principle of manpower planning, especially at grassroots levels.

I understand that the work of the Board especially those leading to the generation of basic statistics for planning and other purposes, has been severely constrained by underfunding. Equally true, as I am told, is the non-release of the National Employment Policy expected to guide government actions in the field of employment. 

I wish to promise hereby that the National Assembly will do everything in its power to assist the Board in its mandate delivery efforts, if approached enough. Be rest assured of the National Assembly’s partnership with the National Manpower Board and other manpower planning agencies in the battle against unemployment amongst others.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is now my honour and privilege to declare the SMC Conference open.