President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja said that his government has resolved to provide the necessary infrastructures that would create employments for youth in the country.
According to him, unemployment was one of the major challenges facing Nigeria and the African continent as many graduates were yet to get jobs.
The president who recalled 2011 African Leaders summit in Malabo, Equatorial Genuea also said that it was the responsibility of the government to create jobs, saying that the “change” principle of the the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, was not a political slogan but commitment to the dawn of a new era.
Speaking at an event organized by the Ministry of Youth Development to mark 2015 World Youth Day with the theme “Civic Engagement”, president Buhari however appealed to the youth to be patient with his government.
He remarked that Africa has the highest population of youth amongst the continents of the world, saying it was neither good nor bad.
“Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, you may wish to note that Africa is the most ‘youthful’ continent in the world. According to the figures I have been presented with, at least 20 percent of the continent’s population of 1.2 billion is between the age bracket of 15 – 24 years, with about 42% below 15 years of age. As the rest of the world gets older, Africa is getting younger. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It all depends on what we make of it.
“Therefore, one of the greatest challenges facing governments and policy makers in Africa today is how to provide opportunities and meet the needs of young people, the vast majority of whom need to be empowered to enable them to lead decent lives and contribute their quota to the socio economic and political development of their countries.
“Correctly harnessed, this tremendous labour force could propel us to take a quantum leap in developing our infrastructure so that Nigeria can join the 21st Century.
“Some of you may recall that African leaders, at the Malabo 2011Summit, committed themselves to providing employment, whether directly or indirectly, for at least 3% of its unemployed young people every year. For us, the meeting in Malabo 2011, marked another turning point in the continent’s quest for development. The summit adopted that all member States should advance the youth agenda and adopt policies and mechanisms towards the creation of safe, decent and competitive employment opportunities.
“This would be achieved by accelerating the implementation of the Youth Decade Plan of Action (2009 – 2018) and the Ouagadougou 2004 Plan of Action on Employment Promotion and Poverty Alleviation. African leaders have since stepped up efforts to give voice, visibility and platforms to the youth to advocate for more investments in their future.
“It is, however, an issue of serious concern that in Nigeria, so far, economic growth has not translated into commensurate and improved social outcomes, especially for our 60 million young people who made up the majority of the population. Consequently our youth migrate from rural to urban areas and from this country to other countries across borders, in search of greener pastures.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen and my beloved youth, I want to assure you that the new Administration will place high premium in tackling challenges facing the youth sector.
“According to the National Bureau of Statistics, unemployment remains a major concern in Nigeria, with rates rising from 6.4% in 2006 to 24.20% in the first quarter of 2015. The unemployment rate among youth is even more disturbing and considered to be over 50% due to the sheer number of unemployed graduates and a huge number of youth who have had no chance to go to school roaming about the streets.
“It is worth noting that although educational attainment by Nigerian young people has increased significantly in the last decade, the relevance of curricula, quality of education and the fit with skills required by the job market, still remains a challenge for us as a country.
“Unsuitable qualifications limit our young peoples’ employment prospects and potential to contribute to national development. Our new Administration is poised to providing an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive so as to ensure greater opportunities for jobs to be created for our young people.
“This we believe will assist in reducing criminal activities and terrorism. We have resolved to provide adequate infrastructure and strengthen our job creation institutions in order to increase opportunities for our young people. For Nigeria to sustainably create jobs and ensure growth, we will pay special attention to the growth of our Small and Medium Scale Enterprises. This can be achieved through boosting the intervention funds as guaranteed by the Central Bank of Nigeria.