Stories by Bimbola Oyesola, 08033246177
Last Saturday was celebrated as the International Youth Day. More than ever, the day, celebrated worldwide, reflected on how the youth can appropriately take up their responsibility if fully engaged. Specifically, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) taking a cue from this year’s theme, “Youth Building Peace,” has noted that youth of today could build peace through decent Jobs.
Decent job opportunities for young people, ILO said, can make a major contribution to conflict prevention, reconstruction and recovery, and building resilience in fragile situations.
According to the ILO, about two billion people are living in countries affected by conflict, violence and fragile situations. More than one third of them are young people aged 15 to 24.
“Young women and men in these countries are particularly at risk of foregoing school and training, where such opportunities are available, and dropping out of the labour market.
“Left without options for securing a livelihood, some, generally the most marginalised and disadvantaged, turn to armed conflict,” the ILO said.
Nigeria, no doubt, is among countries identified by the global body with these challenges identified.
In recent times, there has been an upsurge in the level of social vices, which include kidnapping, youth restiveness, armed robbery, regional militia, terrorism and ritual killings, among others, Even the Boko Haram terrorist onslaught, which was reported to have been decimated by the military at the inception of the present administration, is now coming back with renewed efforts.
In the last two weeks, Nigerians have witnessed more than five horrific violent incidents, from the Anambra church killings to discoveries of about three ritualists’ dens in some parts of Lagos State.
Stakeholders have often attributed these acts of violence to the high level of unemployment in the country.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in June this year, reported that 29 million Nigerians were jobless as unemployment rate hit 14.2 per cent.
According to the bureau, unemployment was more prevalent between ages of 15 and 34, the age bracket that represents the youth population of the country and which also features more than half of the 180 million population. The breakdown into the age groups further showed that unemployment rate among those aged 15 to 24 increased to 36.5 per cent.
The Young Journalists Forum (YJF) corroborating the ILO on the importance of gainful employment for the youths, recently said some infamous groups, like Boko Haram, capitalise on vulnerable young people to foment trouble in the country.
The YJF commended the Civilian Joint Task Force, popularly known as Civilian JTF, for supporting peace.
“We join young people the world over to celebrate this special day, by appreciating all youth groups that have stood against the ongoing quest by some infamous groups, like Boko Haram, to take advantage of vulnerable youths to fan the embers of disunity in our beloved Nigeria,” the YJF said.
The ILO, however, noted that what is at stake is not only the present and future of the affected countries, but also the resilience and ability of entire communities and societies to recover and build a better future.
It stated that, “We also know that youth are part of the solution: when young women and men are listened to, supported and empowered, they become active agents of peace-building, actors for recovery and resilience.The international focus on the role of youth in building peace could not have come at a more opportune moment.”
The ILO explained that it adopted a new recommendation, No. 205 (2017) on Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience at the just-concluded International Labour Connference . The new recommendation provides guidance on promoting decent work opportunities in response to crises arising from conflict and disasters; pays special attention to the protection, education and training of children and young people in situations of conflict and is founded on the value of dialogue.
The ILO maintained that decent work has the potential to become a powerful driver of enduring peace.
“We now have a historic opportunity to scale up our action on youth for peace by implementing the guidance given by Recommendation 205 and the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015), through the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth and its unique multi-stakeholder partnership, to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” the organisation said.
The global labour body explained that two fundamental principles would guide its actions to leverage youth engagement in peace-building: “First, youth voices must be heard, their creativity engaged, and their rights respected, as stated in our 2012 Call for Action; second, the importance of investing in youth skills and access to decent jobs.
An ILO publication, Rising to the Youth Employment Challenge: New Evidence On Key Policy Issues, launched for Youth Day 2017, equally proposes innovative approaches in this respect.
The publication identified three areas of curbing youth restiveness, including effective youth employment policies, which require a comprehensive strategy reflecting the interaction and interdependence of policies and programmes.
It also called for appropriate, designed wage subsidies to enhance skills, offer meaningful work experience and improve long-term employment prospects for youth.
The publication also emphasised that self-employment programmes, with formalisation as a conditionality, can make formal employment an attractive alternative for young people and their enterprises, both disproportionately represented in the informal economy.
The ILO harped further on the importance of taking action, “Today, we celebrate the contribution of young women and men to peace. Their dedication and courage should go together with our resolute commitment to scale up action and investment in skills and decent jobs for youth.
“A young activist working at Zaatari refugee camp on the outskirts of Amman, Jordan, declared: ‘When adolescents and youth have a vision, they will dedicate their life to achieving it.’
“Young people globally have spoken of their vision for a future with decent work. We know what works to improve decent employment outcomes of youth, let’s make it happen!”
Nigerian youths may be rising to this challenge. The YJF, celebrating the day in line with the theme, called on all knowledgeable young Nigerians to organise into groups that would be solution to societal problems, especially with regard to peace and security, to support troops to protect the country from criminals and invaders.
Coordinator of the group, Chukwuma Nzeh, encouraged young Nigerians to take advantage of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, to ask questions about how they are governed and how the nation’s commonwealth is being expended, because this would put corrupt official to check and mitigate corruption to the barest minimum.
The YJF said, “Unemployment is what has made most young Nigerians vulnerable and are being exploited by those who have no good intentions for them or the nation: we call on all stakeholders, especially government, corporate organisations and wealthy individuals, to embark on construction of sporting facilities across the country at least in every ward of the 774 local governments to engage youths in productive enterprise.
“This would not only reduce crime and criminality, but would also enhance our global participation in sporting activities, for more medals at global and regional competitive events, as it has been observed that the present generation of young people are the largest so far in the history of the globe.
“We urge government to strengthen the activities of the Legal Aid Council, especially with regard to provide legal services to young people languishing in several detention facilities in the country. Most of them were victims of circumstances and we think they can be made better citizens.”
The group commended the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, for filling the vacuum created by the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari, and quelling the violence in the Niger Delta with the pledge of modular refineries.
Going by federal government pronouncements and actions so far, Nigeria could also be considered to be responsive and predisposed to the ILO solutions to end unemployment and provide enduring global peace.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, has said that Nigeria would create 15 million new jobs by 2020.
The effort, he said, was expected to reduce the country’s unemployment rate from 13. per cent in 2016 to 11.23 per cent by 2020.
The minister said solving the unemployment problem was one of the important tasks that the new Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) recently launched by the Buhari administration aimed to achieve in its medium term plan.
Udoma said the ERGP, if well executed, would help the manufacturing sector to achieve average growth of 8.5 per cent, peaking at 10.6 per cent by 2020, while real GDP growth of 4.6 per cent over the plan period would increase to 7 per cent growth rate by 2020.
The Federal Executive Council penultimate Wednesday also approved 27 new industries and products to enter the reviewed pioneer status, which would earn them tax holidays for three years, to enable them grow and expand investments.
Stakeholders, however, have said that the advantages go beyond revenue generation as the incentives would attract more investors that would generate jobs.
Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muda Yusuf, noted that high unemployment leads to social vices.
He said the tax relief incentive would help in curtailing vices arising from unemployment and boost security, as youths would be gainfully engaged and less disposed to crime.