▪︎ Asks FG to collaborate with PCN
By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja.
The National Commandant of the Peace Corp of Nigeria, (PCN) Ambassador Dickson Akoh, has warned that the huge youth unemployment rate staring Nigeria in the face at the moment is a time bomb capable of devastating the future of the nation.
To arrest the recurrence of the #EndSARS protest, the Peace Corp boss pleaded with the President Muhammadu Buhari led-Federal Government to come out with a clear policy that will generate sustainable and gainful employment for the youths.
Akoh, who gave the warning when he led a delegation of the Corps on a courtesy visit on the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, however commended the federal government for the Social Security Programmes so far initiated to address immediate challenges facing the youths.
Citing the five thousand naira Social Security Grants, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), N-Power programme and the Home Grown School Feeding programme, the PCN Chief opined that the federal government has demonstrated a strong will to tackle youth empowerment and ameliorate poverty in the populace.
However, as commendable as the Social Security Programmes are, Ambassador Akoh, canvassed that sustainable and permanent approaches are mechanisms that can be put in place to ensure irreversibility of conditions and welfare status of the target beneficiaries.
Ambassador Akoh revealed that information across the country had indicated most of the “Financial Handouts” and “Token-Grants” of Governments, both past and present, have only ended up making the Youths lazier and more dependent minded, while destroying the sense and principles of hard-work and dignity in labour, contrary to the intent and wishes of the Federal Government.
“It is a proven fact and incontrovertible reality that once such ‘Financial Handouts’ are no longer forthcoming or delayed in coming, these same youths go back to the streets on protest or quickly revert to social ills and unproductive preoccupations that sometimes backlash on the same generous Government.
“It is upon this premise that we have been in the advocacy and quest of setting up of a more permanent and sustainable Institutional Framework for mass and cost-effective engagement of the Nigerian youth towards proactive and positive preoccupations and activities.
“We envision a structure that shall effectively engage millions of well trained and disciplined young people in various forms of community works and social safety activities, in the spirit of volunteerism.
“We are highly convinced that if half of the financial resources deployed to some of the social security programmes were otherwise channelled to such a structure as we propose to offer, the Government will harvest much higher results and record greater impact.
“What the nation needs, at this critical point of economic challenges, is a robust institutional mechanism for cheap, yet effective, labour services that shall also serve as a reservoir of ready-made/standby workforce for government establishments, to be sustained by permanent stipends, thus creating a sense of alternative employment”, he said.
Akoh who quoted the report of the National Bureau of Statistics which put unemployed graduates “at over 29.9 million”, said that the idle state of unemployed youths has given rise in criminal activities, restiveness and heightening insecurity in the land.
He added that the situation is also being exploited by ethnic warlords and egocentric politicians for negative tendencies.
“Unemployment and the attendant social consequences, one of which is the EndSARS movement, that we recently witnessed is a time bomb and every concerned citizen and organization must, out of patriotic zeal, join hands with the government to avert this serious danger.
“We are concerned with the high level of unemployment and its implications for peace and security of our dear nation. Hence, if our roadmap for addressing youth restiveness and job creation in Nigeria is adopted by the government, we are optimistic that more positive and enduring result in terms of youth empowerment will be achieved through our bold initiatives.
“In our most considered view, the Government should evolve means of pulling the youth off the streets and deploying them to organised labour services at most minimal cost, which is exactly what we promise to bring onboard”, he said.
Stating that the Peace Corp has offices in the 36 states of the federation and Abuja as well as in 90 percent of the Local Government Areas in the country, Akoh pleaded with the federal government to partner with his organization to reach out to the youths so as to put an end to their restiveness.
The Director, Nigeria National Volunteer Service in the SGF’s office, Mrs Olusola Dada, who received the delegation on behalf of Boss Mustapha, thanked the Peace Corp of Nigeria for identifying and appreciating the social security programmes of the Government and for showing concern on how to arrest youth unemployment, assuring that the roadmap of the PCN would be delivered to the SGF for positive action.