Sunday, August 18, 2013

International Youth Day: Plights of Nigerian youth

Minister of Youth Development, Inuwa AbdulkadirNigeria, Africa's most populous country, has a young population, with the youth covering up to 70 percent of the estimated 167 million people,  however, they are currently grappling with the challenges of illegal migration among others. Ayodele Samuel writes on the significance of today's United nations (UN) International Youth Day in addressing these challenges .
As young people around the world celebrate International Youth Day today, with the theme: "Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward", the dream of many average young persons in Nigeria is relocating to other developed countries; even few developing countries are now becoming attractive to Nigerian youths.
Young people across Nigeria are facing increasingly tough times; youth unemployment is at an all-time high and opportunities are scarce, especially for those who have not pursued a high-level education, which is a major reason millions of the nation's young population are anxious to leave the country in search of a better future.
According to the National Population Council, there were 167 million Nigerians as of July 2012 and that 70 percent are between the ages of 18 and 35, a vital reason the governments at all levels should give priority to youth development in the country, analyst says.
In the last few decades, different administrations have attempted to solve the problems facing the young population in the nation, with a view to reduce the migration of youngsters through various schemes and development programmes but none has yielded any quantifiable result.
Nigeria youths are faced with the strenuous processes of migrating from the country, with fraudsters smiling to the banks after duping unsuspected victims who are always willing to pay any amount to secure a visa.
Some of them are however involved in an arduous journey in crossing the Sahara Desert through a desolate and dangerous environment to their destination and transit countries of North Africa. Many of them have died in the process.
Early this year, 65 Nigerians, mostly youths arrived the country after they were deported from various countries in Europe following a range of alleged offences.
Also in June, 52 Nigerians were arrested in Malaysia during a midnight raid by the Malaysia Immigration police. They were put in custody awaiting deportation from the country.
Young Nigerians outside the country are also are faced with the threat of collective deportation, discrimination, harassment and abandonment in the desert.
In 2010, the Federal Government estimated that there were at least 59,000 Nigerian citizens without valid documentation temporarily resident in Maghreb countries and countries along the West African coast literally awaiting onward transit to Europe.
Regional Coordinator of the Young People Africa ,Ola Abraham Emmanuel said millions of Nigerian youths, while in search of greener pastures, engage in illegal means such as forgery of travelling documents, marriage under false pretenses, claims for asylum, human trafficking among others, to leave the country due to the poor economic condition. 'However, most of them end up in various prisons abroad, either deported or killed, making the country to lose of their talents and knowledge", he added. He said young Nigerians are always willing to leave the country due unemployment, blaming the government for not creating a conducive environment for youths development in the country.
"We have millions of graduates who are unemployed on our street; they can't afford the cost of processing visa, while few are not meeting the requirement needed to legally leave the country, so they opt for other means of getting to those economical advanced countries", he stated.
He said governments at all levels must create jobs, engage its young population and make them see reasons why they should stay "but unfortunately, the country is so corrupt that no youth would want to
invest his hope in such."
The Chief Executive of Reel Production Global, Mr. Charles Danson, on his part opined that insecurity and unemployment challenges in the country are responsible for young people leaving the country, saying, "If there are stable jobs for our youths after school, I think they will not be travelling to other countries in search of greener pasture.
"Nigeria is our home; there are abundant human and natural resources in this country. Our youth are very talented, except that we don't enough facilities to help them explore their talents. I watched
Nigerians in the Diaspora on television recently, as they were complaining about lack of infrastructure in Nigeria, especially power. I believe that if the government provides the basic amenities our youth will lose interest in travelling to overseas, where they are treated as slaves", he stated.
The National Co-ordinator, Nigerian Youth Leadership Advocacy Group (NYLAG), Onyekachi Eze said the Africa Economic Outlook 2012 estimates that Nigeria's youth unemployment rate is 37.7%. In reality, he says "the rate is probably higher; so, little surprise that young Nigerians are angry and hungry when 31 million of them are jobless, this alone, is enough to make any young Nigerian demoralised and desperate to leave the country in search of greener pasture".
Eze said the establishment of a Ministry of Youth Development in 2007, with the sole aim of promoting the physical, mental and socio-economic development of Nigerian youth through the advancement and protection of their rights within the Nigerian state, the promotion of their welfare and provision of opportunities for their self-actualization has not yielded any positive result.
Eze said impact of other the recent initiatives under President Goodluck Jonathan administration, like the Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWiN) and the agricultural transformation agenda as both targeted at job creation and youth empowerment is felt by only small percentage of the youth population.
He said the Ministry of Youth Development committed a sum of N78.09 billion to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), out of a total budget of 85.42 billion devoted to the Ministry in 2013 fiscal year.
"This amount voted for the NYSC represents a whopping 91.4% of the total Ministry of Youth development's budget. The trouble with this prioritisation is that excessive emphasis is placed on the NYSC scheme even though there are many youths who do not participate in the scheme and even youths, who have completed the service still require policy attention", he further stated.

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