By Nweke, Prince O.
Regional Coordinator, National Coalitions of Nigerian Youths in South-East (NACONY)
Image source: diylanguage.wordpress.com
It is unfortunately that from research, we observed that there are roughly 200 million youths in Nigeria between 15 and 4 years of age. This represents about 20% of the population. According to the Population Research Bureau, Africa has the fastest growing and most youthful population in the world. Over 40 percent of its population is under 15. Africa’s high fertility rate is responsible for this. This demographic finding portends effects, challenges, opportunities and solutions the high rate of illegal commitment of Nigerian youths especially in the areas of crime. The effects and challenges are economic, lack of employment, illiteracy, poverty, lack of orientations, lack of youth participation in decision making, and other social constraints; both are highly connected. This is because as the population of the country expands so also jobs must be created. And Above all, the implication is that if these jobs are not enough, there will be many young people who are unemployed in our society which leads to crime and community violence.
The World Bank 2008 Report titled ‘Youth Employment in Africa: the potential, the problem and the promise’ notes that youth employment is more prevalent in urban areas. Worsening conditions in the rural areas lead to rural-urban migration. This compounds the unemployment challenge in the urban centres. This is clearly evident in many big cities in Africa including Lagos, Ibadan, Aba, Zaria, Accra, Darkar, and Johannesburg, just to mention a few.
Effects of Youth and Crime in Nigeria
Unemployed youth are therefore readily available for anti-social criminal activities that undermine the stability of society especially in the area of Internet Usage, manipulations and hacking with illicit passwords. An unstable society increases the risk of the market. This scares investors. Jorge Saba Arbache of the Africa Region of the World Bank says ‘unemployed and underemployed youth are more exposed to conflicts and illegal activities-many of them fall prey to armed and rebel conflicts’.
In Nigeria, there is no doubt to say that the rate of crime in Nigeria has consistently increased. Former presidential aspirant and business mogul Prof Pat Utomi wonders why Nigeria experiences rising rate of unemployment despite its rating as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The situation is no different in the other 6 countries listed in Africa listed as one of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world.
Solutions to Nigerian Youths and Crime
However, addressing the youth and crime in Nigeria requires an integrated holistic approach. Truly, Shortcuts will not work. The World Bank 2008 report advocates for a comprehensive model that caters for rural development, rural-urban migration, preparation of young people for the labor market and investments in agriculture.
The aim of Nigerian government politics and process should be to create enabling environment to promote investments and job opportunities for the youths. This includes provision of power, maintaining law and order, and adequate security. The justice system must also be strong to facilitate strong contracts and protect mutual trust. On the other hand, the minimum standards should be set for products that will cross borders. Free movement of people and goods should be allowed, within the limits of regional and international trade treaties.
Education curriculum must be immediately revised to incorporate skills acquisitions exercise, Entrepreneurship Development, and enterprise to limit the rat of paper works. A special program should be designed for low-skilled youth in vocational centres. Incentives should be provided to SMEs that promote student internships. The current state of youth unemployment in Nigeria and the rest of Africa require shared responsibilities to tackle it. It will take the ‘Power of We’ to solve it. Businesses will thrive in a safe and secure society. Government can implement developmental programs only in an atmosphere of peace of security. It is therefore incumbent on government to work closely with the private sector to promote internships, graduate trainee programmes, and community-based projects that create jobs for young people.
Agriculture is a viable source of investments for young people if it is made attractive. There should be a swift transition from subsistence to commercialized farming. Farm and non-farm activities should be better packaged to make them really attractive. There should also be adequate investment in rural education. This will boost rural opportunities and reduce rural-urban migration and its concomitant challenges.
About the author
Mr. Nweke Prince was born on the 10th of March, 1984 at Achara Ihechiowa, Eleoha Autonomous Community, Arochukwu Local Government of Abia State, Nigeria to the family of Deacon and Deaconess Okpe Nweke. Nweke Prince started his primary school education at the Church of Scotland Mission School (now known as the Diogukwu Memorial School), Achara Ihechiowa, were he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC) with distinction, in 1995. In 1996, Prince got accepted at the Alpha Institute and later studied at the Achara Secondary School in 2001. At the completion of his secondary school education, he became a tutorial staff of the Alpha Institute, Achara Ihechiowa. Due to his efforts and services rendered to the school as an auxiliary teacher, he was appointed as the first principal of the Prince Commercial College, Abam where he decided to pursue higher education at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. In 2003, Prince gained admission to study Public Administration and Local Government Studies (Specialization: Personnel Management) and obtained National Diploma (ND) in 2005, at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, and later proceeded to complete his First Degree in Education (Specialization: Administration) in 2011, at the same university.
During his academic study at the university, Nweke performed a number of humanitarian services for vulnerable youths, and soon decided to establish a non-governmental organization (NGO); Life-skills Initiative for Youth Empowerment and Development (LIFYEAD). LIFYEAD, which started as a community based organization (CBO) within the university community, later became a regional organization and is nowadays recognized in Africa, Asia, and the United States. Presently, Nweke is working as the Regional Coordinator of National Coalition of Nigerian Youth in South-East, Nigeria, and as a part-time Lecturer at the Centre for Pre-Degree and Diploma Studies, Kogi State University, Anyigba.