Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, is unsettled by the situation whereby undue advantage is being taken of the predicament and frustration of Nigerian youths whom he lamented are being recruited into kidnapping, terrorism, political thuggery, and other unwholesome activities that are inimical to the nation’s thriving democracy and development. Keyamo, senior advocate of Nigeria, who was in Benin, for the inaugural retreat and meeting of members of the newly-inaugurated board of the National Directorate of Employment, (NDE) said the agency would be strengthened to tackle the menace head on.
The minister said Nigerian youths must be protected from despair, disillusionment, and hopelessness, as they represent the most active and valuable sector of the nation’s demography, economically and socially.
Noting that Nigerian youths were energetic, innovative and desire so much for legitimate and decent job opportunities or conducive clime to operate productive ventures, the minister, who delivered a keynote address at the Protea Hotel venue of the event, asserted that the right of Nigerian youths, women, and other vulnerable groups to decent job opportunities, self reliance, and self-actualisation, was non-negotiable in the administration of his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari.
Keyamo, who is the chairman of the board of NDE, and the supervising minister of the agency, noted that “The current population of Nigeria is about 215,325,205, based on projection of the United Nations data. By the projection of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 60 per cent of the total population is estimated between 15 and 35 years”.
According to him, “Without decent job opportunities or conducive clime by the youths to operate productive ventures, frustration, disillusionment, hate, anger and even vengeance, set in.
“Worst of all, some unpatriotic persons cash on the predicament and frustration among the youths and recruit them as ready tools for kidnapping, terrorism, political thuggery, and other unwholesome activities that are inimical to our thriving democracy and development as a nation. We have a task to strengthen the directorate as an agency that will tackle the menace head on.”
Reiterating that President Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) government were desirous of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, the minister said the NDE would be made impactful on delivering the laudable national quest. Keyamo described himself as an advocate of good governance, right attitude to public funds, efficient and effective service delivery to Nigerians, especially the teeming unemployed youths, women, and other vulnerable groups.
Earlier in his address of welcome, the Director-General of NDE, Mallam Abubakar Fikpo, urged members of the agency’s board to explore possible means of attracting external funding for the directorate.
Fikpo posited that attracting external funding for NDE was very critical, considering the fact that the agency had been receiving almost the same budgetary allocations and battling with insufficient release of funds since 2004, in spite of the geometric increase in the rate of unemployed persons, with its attendant socio-economic implications.
He revealed that the management of NDE had made efforts for collaboration with government, non-governmental agencies, and other relevant stakeholders as a way of attracting support for employment-creation initiatives.