Nigeria: 55 Million Youths Living in Abject Poverty - Senator Bassey

3 December 2021

Calabar — The senator representing Southern Senatorial District of Cross River State, Mr. Gershom Henry Bassey, has lamented the high rate of youth unemployment in the country, saying that available statistics indicated that over 55 million of them live in object property.

Bassey, who earlier in the week raised a motion in the Senate on "The Need to Prioritise Sustainable Youth Oriented Human Capital Development for Long Term Socio-Economic Growth," said that the need for sustainable programmes for youths' development and empowerment in Nigeria is now to check current slide.

A statement from his office, which was made available to journalists yesterday in Calabar, said that "Nigeria's current economic growth patterns are not providing adequate employment and quality life, especially for young persons who may lack necessary skills and training."

He stated that "by the fourth quarter of 2020, Nigeria's unemployment rate increased to 33.3 percent from 27 percent in second quarter and Nigeria now ranks 2nd highest on the unemployment global list, which and is not acceptable as one in three of Nigeria's 69.7 million work force are unemployed, consisting predominantly of young persons aged 25 to 44."

He said the time has come for an urgent intervention to get Nigerian youths gainfully empowered and employed.

Bassey who is also the Chairman of Cross River National Assembly Caucus, said that "food inflation has accelerated at its highest pace in 15 years, worsening the economic conditions of millions of Nigerian youths, of which more than 55 million now live in extreme poverty."

The lawmaker lamented that "in the wake of the one-year anniversary of the #Endsars protests, many of our youths still feel despondent as statistics show that poverty, unemployment and insecurity are on a steady rise."

He said that countries like China prioritised large-scale investments in physical and human capital during the 1960s and 1970s, focusing on areas such as education, technology and industrial job creation. Today, China has almost eliminated illiteracy among its 1.3 billion population.

But in contrast, "Nigeria's 2022 budget only proposes 5.4 percent and 3.42 percent for education and healthcare sectors respectively, posing implementation challenges to lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030. Nigeria's figures are also in contrast with UNESCO's recommendation that developing countries should spend up to 25 per cent of their annual budget on education," he said.

Bassey suggested that "government needs to consider its youth population as a unique resource and economic force for high-income growth and development. Commit to budget allocations that provide youth-oriented economic interventions, technological adaptability, foster entrepreneurship and job creation in agriculture and manufacturing sectors."

He said more steps should be taken to improve the socio--economic conditions of Nigerian youths.

Bassey also asked for large scale investment in formal and informal education systems, skills and capacity acquisition programmes for emerging industries and the provisions of an enabling environment with adequate infrastructure is a critical. This is an essential foundation for human.

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