The Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN) has raised concerns over the growing rate of youth unemployment in the country, warning that it is a time bomb capable of devastating the future of the nation if not immediately tackled.
The National Commandant of the PCN, Ambassador Dickson Akoh, who sounded the warning, however, urged the current administration to come out with a clear policy that will generate sustainable and gainful employment for the youth.
Akoh, who gave the warning when he led a delegation of the corps on a courtesy visit to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, however commended the federal government for the social security programmes so far initiated to address the immediate challenges facing the youths.
Citing the N5,000 Social Security Grants, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), N-Power programme and the Home Grown School Feeding programme, the PCN chief opined that the federal government has demonstrated a strong will power in youth empowerment drive, aimed at ameliorating poverty in the populace.
However, as commendable as the Social Security Programmes are, Akoh canvassed that sustainable and permanent approach are mechanism to be adopted and put in place to ensure irreversibility of conditions and welfare status of the targeted beneficiaries.
He revealed that information across the country had indicated that most of the “Financial Handouts” and “Token-Grants” of governments, both past and present, have only ended up making the youth lazier and more dependent minded, while destroying the sense and principles of hard work and dignity in labour, contrary to the intent and wishes of the federal government.
“It is a proven fact and incontrovertible reality that once such ‘Financial Handouts’ are no longer forthcoming or delayed in coming, these same youths go back to the streets in protest or quickly revert to social ills and unproductive preoccupations, and even sometimes backlashing the government.
“It is upon this premise that we have been in the advocacy and quest of setting up of a more permanent and sustainable institutional framework for mass and cost-effective engagement of the Nigerian youth towards proactive and positive preoccupations and activities,” he added.
Akoh, who quoted the report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which put unemployed graduates “at over 29.9 million”, said that the idle states of unemployed youths has given rise in criminal activities, restiveness and heightening insecurity in the land.
He added that the situation is also being exploited by ethnic warlords and egocentric politicians for negative tendencies.
“Unemployment and the attendant social consequences, one of which is the EndSARS movement, that we recently witnessed is a time bomb and every concerned citizen and organization must, out of patriotic zeal, join hands with the government to avert this serious danger.
“We are concerned with the high level of unemployment and its implications for peace and security of our dear nation. Hence, if our road map for addressing youth restiveness and job creation in Nigeria is adopted by the government, we are optimistic that more positive and enduring result in terms of youth empowerment will be achieved through our bold initiatives.
“In our most considered view, the government should evolve means of pulling the youth off the streets and deploying them to organized labour services at most minimal cost, which is exactly what we promise to bring onboard,” he said.
Stating that the Peace Corps has offices in the 36 states of the federation and Abuja as well as in 90 per cent of the local government areas in the country, Akoh pleaded with the federal government to partner with his organization to reach out to the youths so as to put an end to their restiveness.
The Director, Nigeria National Volunteer Service in the SGF’s office, Mrs Olusola Dada, who received the delegation on behalf of Mustapha, thanked the Peace Corps of Nigeria for identifying and appreciating the social security programmes of the government and for showing concern on how to arrest youth unemployment, assuring the corps that the roadmap of the PCN would be delivered to the SGF for positive action.