From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
A pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Yoruba Professionals Foundation (YPF) on Friday told the governors in the South West geo-political zone of Nigeria that unless they prioritise jobs creation through knowledge-based entrepreneurship, innovation, industrialisation and agriculture, insecurity will continue to boom in the region like wave of ocean.
The advice was given by the convener and president of YPF, Maxwell Adeleye, and Director of Research and Strategy, Olawale Kadri, in a statement they made available to journalists in Ibadan, Oyo State.
The group stated that poverty, hunger and starvation, mostly occasioned by higher rate of youth unemployment, are largely responsible for the increased commercial criminality and kidnapping in the Western Nigeria.
The YPF warned governors in South West Zone on the danger of not prioritising youth unemployment. stressing that “even a trillion naira budgetary allocation to Amotekun, Police and Army cannot quench insecurity where youth unemployment reigns supreme.
“The South West in recent time has experienced unprecedented security challenges at a scale that could pose a great threat to development and foreign direct investments.
“Kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery, internet fraud, drug abuse and more recently, herdsmen attacks are all in the exponential rise. All these are not unrelated to our explosive population growth and escalating youth unemployment.
“Except there are urgent interventions and conscious strategies to engage our growing youth population the South West and by extension, the nation may be heading towards the rock.
“While we recognise that government cannot create enough jobs to solve the unemployment problem and invariably reducing the crime rate, we are of the firm belief the government in the South West must begin to institute knowledge-based entrepreneurial development policies and programmes for the youth to open new doors of opportunities, ventures, alliances to engage the youth and drive the economy.
“The government in the region must ensure the environment is conducive for the youths to think about the needs of society and get adequate support in designing solutions for the need and effectively marketing the solutions.
“The youth are hard-wired with innovative concepts in terms of business and technologies, our generation is risk-taking, adventurous and always ready to snatch opportunities. These attributes must not be allowed to be wrongly directed as the result will be catastrophic.
“The government in the South-West should as matter of urgency, begin to look on how to empower the youths in creating jobs in green and renewable Energy, Fashion Industry, Blockchain, Smart Homes, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Agro-allied, Waste Management, Food Processing, Software Engineering to mention but few.
“Failure of which the region should be ready to spend all its budget on building prisons and providing security for the privilege as even a trillion naira budgetary allocation for Amotekun, Police and Army can’t arrest criminality where youth unemployment reigns supreme.
“By 2050, Nigeria is expected to become the third most populated nation in the world according to United Nations data. Again, according to the United Nations data, over 69per cent of our population are below age 35 and unfortunately, the majority of crimes are perpetrated by people who fall between ages 20-35.
“This is the most active age in human life, but unfortunately, according to NBS data in the Q2 of 2020, the unemployment rate among young people (15-34years) was 34.9 per cent, while the rate of underemployment for the same age group rose to 28.2 per cent.
“This invariably means we have over 63% of our active population not having any tangible employment and over 34% of them completely idle. This data is a telling indictment on the failure of leadership and lack of an adequate plan for citizenry and succession generation. There can’t be any better incubation for crime than a society with explosive youth unemployment.
“To understand how bad this is, the unemployment rate in Venezuela is currently at 9.38 per cent, in Papua New Guinea 4.50, South Africa 28.48 per cent, Afghanistan 11.16, Honduras 5.23, Trinidad and Tobago 2.8 per cent, Brazil 11.97 per cent, Guyana 11.81per cent, El Salvador 4.2 per cent and Syria 8.45 per cent.
“These are the top 10 countries with the highest crime rate in the world at the moment. If you compare these statistics with that of Nigeria, you will understand we are sitting on the keg of gun powder except we start fixing the problem of unemployment now.”