By Merit Ibe
A former national president of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Dr. John Agboola Odeyemi, has called for massive job creation for Nigeria’s teeming youths as the only solution to the lingering and worsening security crisis in the country.
Odeyemi, who is also former chairman of Ecobank Plc, made this known to newsmen shortly after a thanksgiving service marking his 82nd birthday at Saint Paul’s Anglican Church, Diocese of Ife (Church of Nigeria), Ayegbaju, Ile-Ife, Osun State. The renowned industrialist and boardroom guru was pessimistic and concerned about the state of the nation, especially the rising unemployment rate and security challenges in the country. He declared that this is the time for radical decisions by the Federal Government and policymakers to address various challenges facing the nation and to achieve a “true Nigerian state”.
Odeyemi stated that it was worrisome seeing the rising unemployment rate in the country. He alluded to the fact that the latest unemployment report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which showed Nigeria’s unemployment rate hit a new record high at 33.3 per cent in the fourth quarter (Q4) 2020, from 27.1 per cent recorded in second quarter (Q2) of 2020, was a pointer and a bad signal that something rational has to be done urgently to address the degeneration of social vices and security challenges in Nigeria.
Particularly, the NBS unemployment report indicated that 33.3 per cent of the labour force in Nigeria or 23,187,389 persons either did nothing or worked for less than 20 hours a week, making them unemployed by its definition in Nigeria.
He pointed out that, if the decision to provide employment to the teeming youths would lead to inflation in the country, there is no cause for alarm, stressing that massive job creation would save the country from many challenges weighing down the country, especially insecurity.
Odeyemi said: “If there is massive employment, there will be no idle hands; if there is employment, there will be peace and people would be happy in their different homes.”
He blamed the political class for the current insecurity, noting that all people who were used as servants and political thugs before being elected and promised jobs were left to fend for themselves and there is a multiplier effect of jobless people.
“We now have about 30 million people in Nigeria without jobs. Also, parents do not have work to do and they cannot take care of themselves, how much more their children. The acid test now, in my opinion, is let us go to public works. It is not about creating 20,000 or 30,000 jobs, it is more than that. Even if it will cause inflation, then let there be work and let there be peace in the land,” he said.
He also berated government for allowing international marauders to penetrate through already porous borders to inflict terror on Nigerian citizens, and use them for political settlement.
Odeyemi, who is also the Baba Ijo of the church, said all he was able to do for the church and mankind were to the glory of God, adding that women and children were his main focus in terms of empowerment.
Earlier in his sermon titled “Christ, the resurrection and the life,” the vicar of the church, Reverend Bishop Soji Ogunyimika, noted that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is very important not only to Christians but to the generality of people. He said the resurrection brings peace, love, joy, happiness and salvation to mankind.
While admonishing people to appreciate Jesus Christ for his good work towards mankind and live a life worth emulating, he said: “The Lord will wipe out all our tears and no more trouble as old things have passed away.”