Ensuring meaningful youth engagement

Ene Osang

Nigeria, with an estimated population of 170 million people is often categorised among poor nations, irrespective of the enormous natural and human resources it is endowed with.

This, has been blamed on corruption, under-utilisation of resources, over dependence on petroleum and lack of zeal or creativity among the youths.
Series of economic policies have been introduced over the years to revive the economy, however, the lack of implementation of these brilliant policies has remained the bane of national growth and development.

The National Commandant, Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN), Dr. Dickson Akoh, while reiterating the importance of gainful engagement of the citizenry, in particular, the youths, recently stated: “From whichever angle it is viewed, poverty remains the most common characteristics of the third world countries, including Nigeria.
“It follows that providing solution to the menace of poverty is tantamount to removing a powerful destructive arrow from the quiver of endemic economic challenges confronting the nation.”

Delivering a keynote address on the theme: “Creating the New Nigeria through Strategic Empowerment,” at the first anniversary of Shagmus Nigeria Integrated Services, Akoh called for more to be done to reduce poverty among youths in the country.

Speaking on the issue of poor leadership in Nigeria since its independence in 1960, he stressed that leaders have crucial roles to play if “Nigeria of our collective dream is to be realised.”

According to him, in creating a New Nigeria through strategic empowerment, thought must be spared for leadership challenge, noting that leadership is the capacity of someone to lead a group.
“Since Nigeria got independence in 1960, the quality of leadership appears to be deteriorating in virtually all spheres of our national life,” he said.

The national commandant noted that several reform programmes had been carried out from years back, unfortunately lack of commitment from political leaders to implementation remained the challenge.
He, however, praised President Mohammadu Buhari’s doggedness in ensuring that things begin to work as they should in the country.

“Several reform programmes had been undertaken before the introduction of NEEDS, but the sad aspect of the saga is that society lacks political leadership committed to implementing them.
“It has been established beyond all reasonable doubt that before the advent of the present administration, virtually all other Nigerian leaders dwelt on preaching rather than implementation.

“They are all good in prescribing solutions to the nations numerous economic problems, but deficient in providing institutional framework to make it grow,” he lamented.”
He likened Nigeria’s situation to the US after the great depression, noting that the US, which was rich with potential was, however, decimated by economic crises, plagued by poverty and high unemployment.

The national commandant, however, stated that President Franklin Roosevelt on assuming power in March 1933, embarked on massive reconstruction and infrastructural development by utilising the reconstruction of finance corporations to direct cheap and abundant credit into developing and rehabilitating physical and productive economy.

“Roosevelt embarked on massive public works programme, channelled resources through the private institutions, created lots of new employment opportunities, pulled the economy out of recession and literally served as the bedrock for future progress.

“The good news is that like Roosevelt, President Buhari is working assiduously to reverse this ugly trend,” he assured.
Speaking further, Akoh assured that the PCN Bill, which was introduced in 2015, and seeks to empower, develop and provide employment for youths, in order to facilitate peace, neighbourhood watch, volunteerism and community services, when assented to by the president, would engage over 500,000 youths across the country.

He also said regular and efficient power supply remained the catalyst for the nation to realise its entrepreneurial energies, stating: “Unless and until the Nigerian state plays its required role as provided in the neo-liberal economic order of providing enabling environment, the actualisation of poverty reduction would continue to remain a mirage.

“Stable power supply is the basis for creating more wealth, job opportunities and unleashing unprecedented economic growth. These reforms can only be functional when the state fulfils its role.”
Akor said the major obstacles to improving opportunities and capabilities of the poor and reducing their vulnerabilities contained in the reforms remained at the level of Nigeria’s leadership, where the political will and ethical considerations seem lacking.

” Nigeria must have focused leadership and stronger state institutions for reforms to significantly reduce poverty and stimulate economic progress. Corruption, poor state of basic infrastructure and weak institutions remain major deterrents to investment, sustainable growth and improved social welfare”.

In his welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer of Shagmus Nigeria Integrated Service Limited, Mr Kerry Kenu, said the company is aimed at creating empowerment opportunities through global technology and entrepreneurship, using efficient and reliable interface.

“We have created a structure built on reliability, efficiency and dedication to satisfy users, and we strive to create a name that will stand the test of time,” he said.

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