Buhari Government Has Been Unfair To Nigerian Youths – Aguda | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Buhari Government Has Been Unfair To Nigerian Youths – Aguda

Posted: Aug 20, 2016 at 3:52 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


Gbenga Aguda, a youth motivator and cleric, is the Coordinator of Nigeria-Israeli Youth Initiative. As mankind observed this year’s International Youth Day on August 12, 2016, he spoke to EJIKEME OMENAZU on the condition of the Nigerian youths, while proffering agenda for youth development in the country


Your organisation did not hold an elaborate event to mark this year’s International Youth Day as was its practice. What was it so?

It would be noted that every August 12, the United Nations (UN) celebrate the International Youth Day. Last year, we held an elaborate programme on youth involvement in governance. This year, we decided to go low-key, whereby we held youth empowerment programmes in some communities, especially in Lagos State. This is due to the situation in the country today. Presently, there is massive unemployment in the land, everyone is suffering from poor finances, while the economy is generally poor. There is lack of support from the governments and the individuals for the promotion of programmes that will improve the condition of the Nigerian youths. However, the youths themselves made self-efforts to observe the International Youth Day in low-key, believing that in 2017, the situation in the country will improve for the better.

As a youth motivator, how do you see the condition of the Nigerian youths?

Let us agree that a lot of youths in Nigeria are not happy with the situation in the country. That is why the youths have been agitating for one thing or the other in parts of the country. The President Muhammadu Buhari administration has not been involving the youths in governance. This is not fair. It is our view that the government should carry the youths along so that they will be fully involved in the nation’s governance. During political campaigns, it is the youths that do the campaigns and leg works for the politicians. After the elections, the youths are dumped. That is why the youths all over the nation are angry. That is why there is restiveness everywhere. Recently, an Oba, a monarch, was kidnapped in Lagos, which is a taboo in Yorubaland. There is massive unemployment in the country and a lot of youths are begging to feed. The situation is sad and worrisome.

Would you say the government, the Executive and the Legislature, as well as the state governments are doing enough for the improvement of the Nigerian youths?

So far, all the arms of government are not doing enough for the youths. There have no programmes for youths. There is no platform to gather the data of the unemployed youths. Apart from the Lagos State government, nothing is being done by all the tiers of government to improve the welfare of the youths nationwide. I feel that by now, the President Buhari government should have come out with a data of the unemployed youths, create a programme for the youths so that those who want to go into Small and Middle Enterprises (SMEs) could have been empowered with soft funds to go into businesses. The government could have created a supervisory agency or body to monitor the youths and what they are doing. This would have helped to keep them profitably engaged, especially in the area of agriculture and agricultural by-products so that they can add value to the economy.

Government has explained that it would give priority to infrastructural development across the country, rather than monthly payment of N5,000 stipend to the unemployed youths. As a youth mobiliser, what is your take on that?

Personally, I support President Buhari on the non-payment of the N5,000 stipends. Payment of the amount would not have been profitable. But, I had expected the Federal Government to have by now created vocational training programmes for the youths. With the approval and implementation of the budget, we need to see how the government’s plans to build infrastructures will play out. We need action on the Ajaokuta Steel Plant, we need to see more roads being constructed. We need more hospitals, we need improved electricity as well as improved rail services. All these will contribute to employment opportunities for the youths and the generality of Nigerians.

What agenda would you suggest to the federal and state governments on youth development?

They should get the youths involved in decisions. The youth ministries and departments at the federal, state and local government levels should reach out to youth organisations. There should be a roundtable for them to brainstorm on the way forward for the Nigerian youths. Through this, a national youth policy and framework for the youths will be developed for the federal, states and local governments. All efforts should be made to ensure that the framework is incorporated into the government’s policy. This framework would be there for the future administrations to follow. This will take care of youth restiveness, vandalism, armed robbery, in fact all manner of problems that help to increase the crime wave in the nation.

Youth restiveness has continued in the Niger Delta region and other parts of the country. How do think the issue could be tackled?

The issue of restiveness in the Niger Delta should be addressed in three fold. First, we need to change the mindset of the Niger Delta people that the oil there belongs to them alone. In the type of federation we run, whatever mineral resources are available anywhere belong to all. Secondly, from the framework I mentioned earlier, there should be a special programme for the Niger Delta youths, through the state and local governments. This will reduce unemployment and crime in the region. The state governments should encourage the creation of industries such as textiles which can employ over 20,000 youths. There should be cottage industries to engage the youths. Thirdly, there should be all-round re-orientation of the youths, both morally and spiritually. This will help to change their attitude and help to stop vandalisation of public properties, which indirectly belong to them.

What advice do you have for the Nigerian youths?

Nigerian youths need to be more proactive. They should believe in the nation and in themselves. Above all, they should believe in God, who is the leader of every government. Youths should pray for President Buhari administration to succeed. Both Christians and Muslims should unite in prayer for the peace of the nation and success of our leaders. Those who have the privilege of embarking on pilgrimages to holy lands should have it as part of their agenda to pray for the well-being of the nation. Rich and philanthropic individuals should support youths who want to embark on pilgrimages. In Israel for instance, there is a plan for youths to be trained in four areas of national development. These are agriculture, security, science and technology and leadership. We hope that several Nigerian youths will be supported to be fully involved in all these so that they can add value to the developmental programmes of the nation.

Lastly, how would you describe the Nigeria-Israeli Youth Initiative?

First, I want to say that the Nigeria-Israel Youth Initiative is a body which organizes leadership and empowerment programmes for the youths from time to time. The organisation promotes co-existence and tolerance among youths of different faiths. It also sensitises the youths for participation in the holy pilgrimage to Israel. This it does in collaboration with the Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), individuals and churches.