By Tunde Johnson
Isa Aremu, GeneraI Secretary, National Union of Garments and Textile Workers of Nigeria; has described the increasing rate of youth unemployment in the country as a tickling time bomb.
Speaking during the second edition of the DAAR Communications PLC, 2018 National Discourse, with the theme: “Youth Unemployment: A time bomb?” in Abuja on Thursday, Aremu said a bill titled: “Not Too Young to Work” should be sponsored to address the menace.
While lauding the empowerment programme by the Federal Government, NPower as a way to address unemployment, Aremu said the government needs to do more and focus on the sustainability of such programmes.
He said: “The programme initiated by government to address unemployment is said to have created about 200,000 jobs and we have over 20 million youths that are presently unemployed.
“I feel the government needs to do more. I feel that a bill; “Not too young to work’ should also be sponsored which will make provisions of unemployment benefits available to the youths.”
Aremu said youth unemployment would be addressed if industrialization, electrification, creative industry and vocational training are given attention.
Hadiza Bala-Usman, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), said the country’s economy will continue to suffer if youth restiveness is not addressed.
She also said Nigerian youths need to stop seeing themselves as vulnerable groups.
According to her: “The concern is that our youths feel that they are in a cage. Nigerian men and women keep wanting to remain youths for a very long time.
“For some reasons, the society believes that Nigerian youths tend to keep considering themselves as young and tend to continue to enjoy being in that cage.
“When I was appointed the MD of NPA, I was 40 years old but there was a huge outcry by people that thought a 40 year old was young to head the NPA and I found that hilarious because at 40, you are not young, you are not a youth and at that age, you have reached every stage of maturity in your life.
“It is important for us to free ourselves from that narrative and from the perception that we are young.
“We are not young and I am 42 and I don’t feel that I am young. It is important for us to walk away from the idea of wanting patronage and wanting to be considered as a youth leader or wanting to be considered as a vulnerable group.”
On the impact of the unemployment, Bala-Usman said: “Whatever you see in terms of insurgency and militancy is a function of our youth restiveness and this restiveness must be addressed.
“The time bomb has exploded and one of the example of the explosion is the Boko Haram insurgency. It is a critical example which exemplifies when you have teeming youths that are not educated and lacks creativity.
“Our country has suffered, it is suffering from this time bomb and would continue to suffer as long as we don’t take concise efforts in addressing it and also recognizing that the root cause of some of these issues as seen with Boko Haram and militancy is a function of our inability to address the concerns around our youth restiveness.”
On the way forward, she said: “I would like to repeat that not everybody would be in a white collar job and that not everybody would be employed by government.
“We need to understand that all the problems cannot be packed on the foot of the federal government to say government is responsible because the government cannot employ all of us but what the government needs to do is to provide an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“We need to look at our training institutions, change the curricula and understand that vocational training is very important.
She further said: “We need to look at our creative art industry. The industry is huge and it is a thriving industry but we need policies and regulatory environment that will enable the industry thrive.
“In the US, we have about 6000 jobs that come out of the creative industry by providing cathering, carpentry, production, makeup and other things that are done on set. There is a lot that can be done to take our youths off the street.”