6 January 2013

Nigeria: Fighting Insurgency With Youth Employment


It has been news of attacks and destruction for the best part of 2012 in Yobe State as the Boko Haram insurgency hits the North East region. Boko Haram violence has hampered meaningful socio-economic transformation of the entire zone.

Almost on a regular basis, government institutions and private businesses are destroyed in the orgy of violence that engulfed the state since the insurgency rears its head. The sect finds willing recruits among the army of unemployed youth across the zone that had become the foot soldiers in the on-going onslaught.

Experts were unanimous that one of the solutions to ending the lingering crisis is for governments at all levels and the organized private sector to evolve articulated empowerment programmes that will take the army of unemployed youth off the streets. That is why the on-going efforts by the Yobe State government to address the challenges posed by the sect through various youth empowerment initiatives is a welcome development. It is so heart warming that the state government has already commenced payment of N15,000 each for the diploma holders it engaged in October last year under its youth empowerment programme.

The programme saw the recruitment of over 6,700 diploma holders in what the Gaidam administration deemed a significant step in addressing the problem of idleness among youths, which is seen as potential contributor to the Boko Haram crisis.

Chairman of the committee set up to coordinate the payment of allowances to the beneficiaries, Alhaji Kati Machina, said 6,751 youth were paid their November allowances.

The state's Head of Service, Alhaji Dauda Yahaya, said 4,000 of the beneficiaries will be engaged in teaching at primary schools, adding that the National Teachers' Institute (NTI) has been brought in by the state government to train and prepare the beneficiaries for a career in teaching at the primary school level.

The Head of Service also said that 400 others will be deployed in hospitals across the state to assist in general administration. He said he is confident that their services will impact the society positively.

Alhaji Dauda Yahaya, however, observed that among the 6,751 diploma holders engaged under the youth empowerment scheme, a few were found to have been already employed by the government. He said a new screening exercise will be conducted to address the problem.

The payment of allowances to the newly recruited diploma holders come six days after the State Assembly passed a request made by the state government for N8.623 billion to take care of over 10,000 new employees engaged two months ago.

This is indeed a step in the right direction because across the country, unemployment and underemployment is a visible currency which has posed serious security threat to all. Recent National Survey conducted by the National Directorate for Employment (NDE) revealed that Yobe alone has over 68,000 youth who are not gainfully employed. Some of the affected youths are secondary school leavers, ordinary diploma and higher diploma holders and university graduates, the governor himself acknowledged recently at a public forum in the state.

To prevent the youths from being further used as foot soldiers by criminal elements within and outside that state, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, inaugurated a 20-man Special Empowerment Committee in order to redress the inherent structural imbalances in the system.

Part of the mandate of the committee is to advise government on how best to engage the services of diploma holders in the state, identify those serving or employed in any tier of government or have secured jobs elsewhere, determine those that require special skills acquisition or training for self-employment, resettlement tools and financial support; monitor the participation of the non-graduates in the assigned responsibilities and advise on disciplinary measures against defaulters.

Undoubtedly, the Gaidam administration has impacted positively on the lives of the youths in the state as well as striving to bring the state out of the clutches of the sect that sees the army of unemployed youths as ready tools for their nefarious activities against the state and humanity at large.

Ibrahim Mohammed wrote this from Potiskum, Yobe State.

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