By Stanley Nwanosike
Enugu, Nov. 24, 2020 The African Heritage Institution has charged state and local governments to embark on aggressive youth economic empowerment to check restiveness and poverty in the country.
The Executive Director of the institution, Prof. Ufo Okeke-Uzodike, made the call on Tuesday while briefing newsmen in Enugu on the upcoming “Big Idea Podium Conference”.
Okeke-Uzodike said the institution expected state and local governments to invest more resources in projects to empower the youths.
“If possible, they should channel most of their resources to empowering the youths to check restiveness, crime and other vices.
According to him, Nigeria has the most youthful population in the world, with a median age of 18 years and one month.
“And most youths fall between the age bracket of 18 and 29.
He said that such a large population in a national population of at least 200 million people should not be ignored to remain jobless, idle and in poverty, if things must go right for the entire population.
“#EndSARS protest underscores the lack of serious commitment to the nation’s youths as reflected by the dearth of transformative youths development initiatives.
“Sadly, government programmes, such as N-POWER, YOU-WIN, National Youth Development Fund and NYSC, among others, have largely failed to achieve their stated objectives.
“They are either terminated, unstable or comatose, while those that are still functional are far from fulfilling their objectives.
“So, there is a need for more sustainable and pragmatic approaches to youth empowerment to be championed by state and local goverments.
“This will help to ensure the programmes truly get to the youths in their localities and make the areas to be economically viable.
“Governors will do better to channel their monthly security votes to directly fund youth empowerment and provide job to thousands of them.
“This will definitely have multiplier effect on job and wealth creation.
“It will also help to reduce restiveness, crime and other social vices in our localities and communities,’’ Okeke-Uzodike said.
He said the conference would further X-ray other multi-sectoral approaches to get every Nigerian youth, whether educated or not, out of the street.
He said the conference would help to explore opportunities for gainful and sustainable employment, especially self-employment, for the youths.
“The country cannot afford to treat issues of youth unemployment, restiveness and lack of inclusiveness in governance with levity, if we hope to have peace in the country,’’ he said.
Okeke-Uzodike said that the conference would hold physically, by observing strict COVID-19 protocols, and virtually via zoom within and outside Nigeria.
The institution is socio-economic and political research-based and the theme of the conference is, “#EndSARS Protest: Rethinking Nigerian Youths and Government Policies’’.