Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose from 27.1% in the second quarter of 2020 to 33.3% in the fourth quarter of 2020, the latest figures from the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday. A third of the 69.7 million-strong labour force in Africa’s most-populous country either did nothing or worked for less than 20 hours a week, making them unemployed, according to the Nigerian definition. Another 15.9 million worked less than 40 hours a week, making them underemployed. The combined unemployment and underemployment rate for the period was 56.1%. Africa’s largest economy surpassed South Africa to sit at second on a list of 82 countries whose unemployment rates are tracked by Bloomberg. Namibia leads the list with 33.4%. Nigeria’s finances were knocked by last year’s drop in the price of oil, which accounts for 90% of foreign-exchange earnings and about half of the government’s income. The country’s jobless rate has more than quadrupled over the last five years as the economy went through two recessions, casting a shadow over the efforts to implement policies to drive growth and create jobs by the Buhari administration. More than 60% of Nigeria’s working-age population is younger than 34. Unemployment for people aged 15 to 24 stood at 53.4% in the fourth quarter, and at 37.2% for people aged 25 to 34. The jobless rate for women was 35.2% compared with 31.8% for men.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation may spend ₦102.96 billion on petrol subsidy this month, going by the recent pricing template for the commodity. A Federal Government agency, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, on Thursday published the expected new lower and upper prices for petrol at retail outlets in March 2021, putting the rates at between ₦209.61/litre and  ₦212.61/litre. It also put the ex-depot price of petrol for the month at ₦206.42/litre and pegged the expected landing cost at  ₦189.61/litre. Nigeria consumes about 57.44 million litres of petrol daily, going by the most recent daily consumption figure released by the NNPC in its financial and operations report. Therefore, the difference between the ₦206.42/litre ex-depot price published by PPPRA as the expected cost for March and the ₦148.6/litre price being sold currently to marketers by NNPC shows that the corporation subsidises petrol by ₦57.82/litre. Multiplying this by the 57.44 million litres consumed across the country daily and the 31 days in March, it implies that the government through the NNPC will spend about ₦102.96 billion as petrol subsidy this month. When contacted on Sunday night, the spokesperson of NNPC confirmed that the pump price of petrol was not reflective of the true market price, meaning that the commodity was being subsidised by the corporation. In a related development, the National President, Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, Billis Gillis-Harry, said the government should deregulate the downstream oil sector fully by allowing other marketers import petrol. Gillis-Harry said, “We see and hear different things from the various government agencies because of the lack of synergy and petrol subsidy (currently on now), which is a huge financial drain. “The government should break the monopoly of petrol imports by NNPC. Other marketers are willing and ready to import products. He added that this would only happen in a properly deregulated downstream sector.

No fewer than 618 schools have remained closed in six northern states over the fear of attack and abduction of pupils and members of staff, according to a ThisDay tally. The six states where some schools have remained closed are Kano, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara. In Sokoto, the state government has closed all boarding schools along border towns. The state Commissioner for Security and Career Affairs, Col. Garba Moyi (rtd), said the measure was to avoid the abduction of pupils just as it happened in Katsina, Niger and Zamfara States. He added that the state Governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, had directed the state commissioner for education to merge those schools with the ones in towns. According to him, schools affected include those in Sabon Birni, Isa Rabah, Kebbe, Tangaza and Gudu local government areas. The paper reported that 16 boarding schools were affected. The Zamfara State Government also closed boarding schools along the border towns after the Jangebe incident. In a reaction to the abduction of 279 pupils of Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Talata Mafara LGA, Governor Bello Matawalle had shut down 10 schools along the borders with Sokoto and Katsina States. In Katsina, the state government had initially shut down all its 38 boarding schools after the abduction of 344 pupils of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara. But the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Badamasi Lawal, later announced the reopening of four out of the 38 boarding schools after a meeting with zonal inspectors of education and permanent secretaries. He listed the four boarding schools which reopened on 2 March as the Command Secondary School, Faskari; Command Girls Secondary School, Barkiya; Command Secondary School, Musawa and Police Secondary School, Mani. The Kano State Government also closed four tertiary institutions and 12 secondary schools over insecurity in neighbouring states. The state Commissioner for Education, Mr Muhammad Sunusi Kiru, said the closure became necessary due to the rising number of abductions of schoolchildren in neighbouring states. All secondary schools in Niger State have been closed by the state government. The two-week closure was from 12 March. The Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Hannatu Salihu, said the closure of the schools was to enable the government to make adequate security arrangements to protect the pupils and workers. In the wake of the abduction of 42 persons from the Government Science College, Kagara, the state government had closed only the boarding schools in Rafi, Mariga, Magama and Shiroro LGAs, which were believed to be prone to bandits’ attacks. With the closure of all secondary schools in the state, about 496 schools were affected. The Information Officer of the State Ministry of Education, Alhaji Jibrin Kodo, said that 56 boarding schools with two of them mixed are affected while the rest of the schools in the state are day schools. He declined to state the total number of schools in the state. The Yobe State government also closed all boarding schools as part of proactive measures to safeguard pupils’ lives. The commissioner, however, said all day schools were to continue with their normal academic activities. The News Agency of Nigeria quoted the commissioner as saying that further statements would be made concerning the reopening of the schools as soon as possible. 

Kenya withdrew from an International Court of Justice case on a maritime-border dispute with neighbouring Somalia and is seeking for the matter to be resolved by the African Union. “We withdrew,” Kenya’s Solicitor General Ken Ogeto told journalists by phone. “We don’t want to appear symbolically. You appear because you think you’ll have justice.” Kenya announced its withdrawal on Monday as proceedings got under way about who owns an area off the two countries’ Indian Ocean coastline. Both countries plan to explore the area for oil, gas and fish. The issue “belongs in the African border dispute mechanism system,” Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said in an interview earlier. Kenya favours “bilateral negotiations and continental negotiations in the context of facilitation by the African Union,” rather than seeking a settlement at the court, he said. In 2014, Somalia went to court to challenge a 2009 agreement that set its maritime border along latitudinal lines extending 450 nautical miles into the sea. The matter relating to a 150,000 square-kilometre (58,000 square-mile) off the coastline was postponed at the ICJ for a third time last May due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kenya’s request for further delays was unsuccessful. Somalia is “deeply concerned that Kenya has decided not to appear at these hearings,” Somali Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Gulaid said at the ICJ. “In Somalia’s view, this is inconsistent with Kenya’s obligations under the charter, the statutes and rules of the court.”