The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, Mr. Onofiok Luke, has said that the high rate of graduate unemployment in the country may continue unabated until our educational institutions take deliberate steps to restructure course curriculum in our universities.
He made this disclosure while speaking at a Youth Summit organized by the Center for Young People Development and Poverty Alleviation Initiative [YDPAN], held at Watbridge Hotels and Suites Uyo, Akwa Ibom state yesterday.
The federal lawmaker speaking on the theme: Youth Development in Nigeria, Legislation and Key Issues, noted that “our educational institutions are churning out a workforce of persons who lack the requisite nous and practical knowledge to interact with the realities of the society towards economic productivity”.
Luke, a member representing Etinan, Nsit Ibom, and Nsit Ubium federal constituency, opined that youth should not be seen as only young men and women in our society, but that deliberate policy should be put in place that would create an enduring investment in their lives.
According to him, the National Youth Policy of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development should be pursued vigorously and be given more attention, adding that, youths are “potentially and actually the greatest investment for a country’s development and should be treated as a vital resource and a good measure of the extent to which our country can reproduce as well as sustain itself”.
“We have had many wins as a people especially with the enactment of the Not Too Young to run Act which has addressed barriers to meaningful youth engagement in civil and political affairs and also enhanced opportunities for constructive involvement and meaningful participation of all Nigerian youth in the community and social development, political processes and governance agenda at all levels, to the limit of their ability, desires and experience.
“Furthermore, the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Trust Fund Bill, 2021 sponsored by my friend and brother in the green chambers, Hon. Dagogo aims to provide a vehicle for assured socio-economic security for Nigerian youths, to galvanize them to become employers of labour, self-reliance, and captains of industry. These two legislations show that the objectives of the Centre for Young People Development and Poverty Alleviation especially as reflected in this Leadership and Entrepreneurship Summit aligns with the policy drive of our legislature”.
He however lamented that despite some commendable efforts at youth’s development, some sectors where youths are aligned by passion continue to suffer tremendous neglect, thereby making the Nigerian youth look like the most neglected by the government.
“This neglect has created a huge gap in youth development in Nigeria as our Youthful population is still haunted by the treacherous triangle of Poverty, illiteracy and unemployment which makes them ready tools for manipulation by state and non-state actors”.
“The Youths remain our valued possession and without them, there can be no future. The extent of their vitality, responsible conduct, and roles in society tomorrow is directly proportional to the investment we make in youth development today. Thus, it should therefore become a fundamental objective of our policy outlook to investing our resources towards educating and equipping our young people along the lines of the skills in which their passions are naturally aligned.
“As a nation, we ought to do better and should do better, in developing a consciousness of the potentials available to us through the skills which our young people possess, and becoming deliberate and intentional in maximizing this invaluable resource as we look to oust youth unemployment.
“Our policies and laws should be inspired by the need to foster and support innovation in business and not to cripple an enterprise. Nigerian startups, young founders and entrepreneurs do not have to suffer from laws like this hanging like albatrosses around their necks”, he said.
Earlier, the executive director of the Center for Young People Development and Poverty Alleviation Initiative [CYDPAN], Mr. Robert Boniface, said that investing in education, health and employment would ensure better prospects for their lives and for the countries’ development, noting that failure to do this would further entrench poverty and ignorance or generation to come.
“Yes, the challenges are many; but they are not insurmountable. Together we can overcome them if we work together and redouble our efforts to guarantee that all young people have the knowledge, skills and opportunities to reach their fullest potentials.
“Let me say this, we will not achieve the Millennium Development Goals to end extreme poverty, to reach universal education, to improve health, to advance equality and create a sustainable planet unless we make these smart investments in youth and partner with young people”, he said.