Daily Trust (Abuja)

15 December 2012

Nigeria: The Youths in Contemporary Nigeria

According to 2006 population census, Nigeria has over 140 million people. Out of this number, youths constitute over 50% of the population and majority of them are currently either underemployed or not employed at all.

Every youth has the right to good life, qualitative education, good health, right of expression and the right to job opportunity, among others. But in the society, youths die due to lack or poor healthcare delivery, starvation. Many young people roam the streets in search of livelihood and employment with a hope for the future. I don't know what this government has planned or is planning to assist the large segment of unemployed youths in this country.

If people do not have work, they do not make any money, making them vulnerable to abuse by unpatriotic elements masquerading as leaders. It is a known fact that jobless youths are readymade materials to be used in mischief and other negative acts.

According to survey conducted by UNICEF, about 71% of Nigerians lives below the poverty line, and this is at a time when many Nigerians have joined the billionaires club in Africa. The poor are becoming poorer because the government is not interested in their wellbeing.

Most disturbing is the negligence of the abundant resources (potentials), which Nigeria is blessed with as a nation. If our leaders can utilize these God-given resources, the poor will not only have the opportunity to live a decent life, the leaders will also have enough to satisfy their weird appetite.

We all know that what the common man wants is a roof over his head, food to eat, and a working transportation system to move easily from one point to another. The common man is not asking for a private jet or a mansion in choice locations as our leaders are wont to do. Poverty should not be a problem for Nigeria if only we can have leaders that have the interest of the nation at heart.

But unfortunately, even the businesses that are seen to be thriving are either owned wholly by government officials or they have a significant interest in them. That is very clear from the revelations coming out of the numerous probes into the oil and gas industry.

I will not say the problem of youth unemployment is only a northern thing. It is a general problem across the country. I am however particular about the North because, if our leaders can make the right investment in agriculture, the youths will have something to do and even start a family.

I don't subscribe to the argument by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that the job problem is not limited to Nigeria alone. Her saying that job problem is as a result of the global meltdown is also unconvincing because when the rest of the world was prospering, we didn't feel the effect.

The fact is unemployment problem among the youths in this country is as a result of bad and thoughtless policies.

At this juncture, I will like to appeal the both chambers of the National Assembly (the Senate and the House of Representatives) to work with the Minister on Youths and Social Development, to help the present administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to come out with a workable plan that will put the youths of this country in an engaging venture. We also hope and pray that our population will be used positively. Population cannot be a bad thing if we have good leaders. Indeed if population is a curse, the likes of China and India will not be where they are today.

President Jonathan should do everything possible to ensure that moribund industries such as the textiles and manufacturing industries that had provided jobs for millions of Nigerians are revived. The issue of reviving the production and export of agricultural produce like ground nuts, cotton and cocoa that had hitherto sustained the economy should be revisited with the view of creating employment for the youth. The present situations whereby so many youths are unemployed give miscreants the opportunity to recruit them to perpetrate dastardly acts that have been on the increase of late in the country.

Youthful age is the period that determines the remaining period of a person's life. Whoever misuses his youthful age will live to regret later in life. But in the case of government, these youths will live to become a burden instead of a blessing, if left unattended to.

Usman writes from Kafin-Hausa, Jigawa State

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