Former Governor of Enugu State, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani has cautioned the government at various levels to quickly find a way of positively responding to youth bulge in the country’s population.

Nnamani, who is the Senator representing Enugu East Senatorial Zone, spoke during a public lecture he delivered at the University of Nigeria Enugu Campus, over the weekend.

The event was an Annual Leadership Forum organized by the Medical Research and Humanitarian Society, MEDRHUS.

While linking youth restiveness to demographics, he said an inappropriate response would spell doom for the nation.

He said there must be a clear roadmap towards addressing poverty and unemployment, recommending that the youth service year could be increased from one to two or three years.

The Senator spoke on the State of the nation, identifying national transformation, poverty, critical infrastructure, youth bulge, gap crisis, among others as major areas of concern.

He said, “youth restiveness has to do with demographics; Nigeria, together with the rest of the world, will go through demographic transition; Nigeria’s population, today you are talking about 195 million, by 2020, Nigeria population is expected to be about 236 million and by 2050, it will be about 410 million, moving Nigeria from 7th most populous nation to the 3rd most populous nation, so you are going to have demographic changes, you are going to have a decrease in gross dependency ratio.

So, Nigerians under 25 will increase exponentially. This expansion is called youth bulge. But the question is- how does society react to youth bulge? Society can react to youth bulge by business as usual or they can react to youth bulge by business unusual.

“If the country reacts to youth bulge as business unusual by providing enabling environment to tag the economic benefits of this youth bulge, through policy formations and implementation, they will have demographic dividend accruing from this expansion population, however, if it is business as usual and the country fails to tap into this population explosion, you are going to have a demographic bomb and the inherent youth restiveness.

“What are the business unusual policies- they include providing education to this expansive population, providing health facilities, providing food, skill acquisition training, providing creativity, innovation, providing agrarian loans, entrepreneurship, to this age group to guarantee employment, to guarantee effective and adequate income and guarantee social protection for them.

“Where these policies are
implemented, they will be of use to the State but if contrariwise is done, you are going to have youth restiveness, you are going to have hopelessness, you are going to have social instability, you are going to have vulnerability to indoctrination, you are going to have youth restiveness, you are going to have communal violence, you are going to have religious violence, you are going to have domestic violence, inter-tribal violence as you have in the North-East Boko Haram, North-West so-called bandits, local terrorism, herder-farmer clashes, which is also terrorism, restiveness in the Niger-Delta and in the South-West and even here in the South-East.”

Former Governor of Enugu State, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani has cautioned the government at various levels to quickly find a way of positively responding to youth bulge in the country’s population.

Nnamani, who is the Senator representing Enugu East Senatorial Zone, spoke during a public lecture he delivered at the University of Nigeria Enugu Campus, over the weekend.

The event was an Annual Leadership Forum organized by the Medical Research and Humanitarian Society, MEDRHUS.

While linking youth restiveness to demographics, he said an inappropriate response would spell doom for the nation.

He said there must be a clear roadmap towards addressing poverty and unemployment, recommending that the youth service year could be increased from one to two or three years.

The Senator spoke on the State of the nation, identifying national transformation, poverty, critical infrastructure, youth bulge, gap crisis, among others as major areas of concern.

He said, “youth restiveness has to do with demographics; Nigeria, together with the rest of the world, will go through demographic transition; Nigeria’s population, today you are talking about 195 million, by 2020, Nigeria population is expected to be about 236 million and by 2050, it will be about 410 million, moving Nigeria from 7th most populous nation to the 3rd most populous nation, so you are going to have demographic changes, you are going to have a decrease in gross dependency ratio.

“So, Nigerians under 25 will increase exponentially. This expansion is called youth bulge. But the question is- how does society react to youth bulge? Society can react to youth bulge by business as usual or they can react to youth bulge by business unusual.

“If the country reacts to youth bulge as business unusual by providing enabling environment to tag the economic benefits of this youth bulge, through policy formations and implementation, they will have demographic dividend accruing from this expansion population, however, if it is business as usual and the country fails to tap into this population explosion, you are going to have a demographic bomb and the inherent youth restiveness.

“What are the business unusual policies- they include providing education to this expansive population, providing health facilities, providing food, skill acquisition training, providing creativity, innovation, providing agrarian loans, entrepreneurship, to this age group to guarantee employment, to guarantee effective and adequate income and guarantee social protection for them.

“Where these policies are implemented, they will be of use to the State but if contrariwise is done, you are going to have youth restiveness, you are going to have hopelessness, you are going to have social instability, you are going to have vulnerability to indoctrination, you are going to have youth restiveness, you are going to have communal violence, you are going to have religious violence, you are going to have domestic violence, inter-tribal violence as you have in the North-East Boko Haram, North-West so-called bandits, local terrorism, herder-farmer clashes, which is also terrorism, restiveness in the Niger-Delta and in the South-West and even here in the South-East.”

He said the prevalent problems had to be addressed “through policies, like empowerment and job creation. For example, we can extend one year of youth service, provide additional two or three years, but it will be purely voluntary, instead of one year youth service, you can have one or two years extra, and those years can provide skills acquisition, job training and also provide entrepreneurship for the graduates to use and face the world.

“You can have a youth empowerment school, you can have a youth empowerment commission, such as you have the various character commissions which guarantee that if the government is going to employ, you must have a certain quota for the youths, you can have cottage industries, these are targeted policies to address youth bulge.”

On critical infrastructure, he said it included “transportation, roads, waterways, aviation, communication, commerce, agriculture, health, among others.”

Senator Nnamani said the national security architecture was witnessing challenges across the country, especially within the Lake Chad basin, Boko Haram in the North-East and the split group, as well as the Fulani herders’ conflict.

He said climate change and desertification was worsening the conflict involving herders, noting that stakeholders must be ready to embrace a working solution.

According to him, “we have had cases where some state governments entered into amnesty agreements with the so-called bandits authorities, these agreements of course cannot be implemented because the bandits do not have common leadership, common goals.

“There must be synergy and partnership with neighboring countries, address critical infrastructure and poverty to provide for the people, rejig security strategy, restore confidence in government. Why not provide for the youths, maybe an adult education programme?”

He also identified the gap crisis, which he described as “the expansive void between those who are rich and those who are poor- inequality, massive inequality”, as another major issue confronting the nation.

“We have regional inequality, we have economic inequality, we have geographic inequality, we have gender inequality, that is the gap crisis; crisis as a result of massive inequality,” he said.

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