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ANY TRANSFORMATION IN YOUTH MINISTRY?

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Inuwa Abdulkadir, Nigeria's youth development minister is a lawyer of several years of post-call experience. Still in his prime, but his legendary achievements at such a young age has catapulted him to a high pedestal in the legal profession so much so that he was picked by his home state to hold the prestigious public office of Attorney General and commissioner for justice in Sokoto state for nearly five years up until President Goodluck Jonathan chose him to become the minister of Youth Development, recently.

Abdulkadir, a life member of the Nigerian Body of Benchers has settled down into the national challenge of transforming the youth ministry to be alive to its onerous responsibilities to the teeming number of Nigerian youths. He started by highlighting the gianstrides achieved by the younger population of Nigeria to national development and described the Nigerian youth as essential building blocks.

speaking at the Nigerian conversation, Paris Edition, a youth mainstreaming initiative hosted by commonwealth youth organization which is said to positively engage Nigerians both at home and abroad, the youth Development minister noted that Nigeria is blessed with a vibrant and resourceful young population which can contribute significantly to the developmental aspiration of the country. Abdulkadir stressed the imperative for all stakeholders in the Nigeria project to harness the enormous resources latent in the youth who are about 80 million of the entire 170 million of the country's population.

according to the minister, no nation with such a huge population will over look the potential it can bring to bear on its overall development.

The youth Developmental minister pledged to painstakingly implement the program of transformation as it relates to the youth policies formulated by the President Jonathan-led federal administration.

The youth Development minister had in an interaction I had with him in his office pledged his readiness to implement the ministry's mandate.

Important aspects of the mandate are; to facilitate and coordinate the acquisition of market ready skills by Nigerian youth; to create opportunity for the youth to have a say in the management of their lives and national development and lastly, to promote values and social responsibility among the youth.

From my extensive independent investigation at the youth Development ministry, I came out with the findings that the Ministry is vigorously implementing the current government's transformation agendum of youth empowerment program (YEP) which is a short-term quick-impact intervention to provide skills and entrepreneurial trainings; job placements; business development services and concessionary credit to the Nigerian youth.

We in the Nigerian Human Rights Community are convinced that if the ministry of youth Development is able to carry through this radical program of youth employment, then a major and indeed viable platform would have being created for redressing the unprecedented scale of youth and graduate unemployment in Nigeria. We believe that human capacity training holds the key to unlocking the solution to the disturbing social challenge of youth unemployment.

Sources conversant with the activities of officials of the Nigeria's youth Development ministry have also told me that the current minister is undertaking radical and extensive reform measures in the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) scheme. The officials are of the considered view that the reform measures being carried out in the NYSC Scheme is done in view of its low return on investment to the country as it is the singular most important investment in youth development in the country today.

In my recent conversation with the minister, he was of the opinion that he will surely build a veritable legacy for Nigeria through comprehensive reform of the NYSC Scheme to meet up with the high standard set for the ministry in the transformation agenda of President Jonathan.

During the course of researching for this piece, I ran into a booklet on Nigerian Youth and the transformation Agenda which was credited to the immediate past Youth Development minister Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi and was informed by officials of the ministry who chose to remain anonymous that the current minister is meticulous in the policy guidelines enumerated in that blueprint.

Going through the contents, I came across the affirmation by the youth ministry that implementation of the Youth Development programme has reached an impressive stage and that in the shortest possible time, the positive economic impacts would be felt by Nigerians.

According to the document, the sum of N1.2 billion was appropriated in the 2012 budget for the Youth employment program (YEP) even as service providers were being recruited from the private sector to provide training platforms for YEP beneficiaries.

I believe that the youth Development ministry will achieve a lot more in the area of delivering skills to the teeming unemployed Nigerian Youth if it can actively partner with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to comprehensively deliver skill acquisition program for the youth.

One more important sector that the youth Development ministry can provide positive intervention and provide better future for the teeming population of Nigerian youth is in the area of mechanized agriculture.

Document made available to me shows that before the resumption of office of the new youth Development minister, the sum of N200 million was made available to the Federal ministry of Youth Development by the millennium Development Goals (MDG) office towards enhancing youth capacity in agriculture.

If you ask me, I will say that not much of positive impacts have been made in this significant perspective with regard to the monetary release.

The current youth Development minister should transparently put mechanism effectively in place to activate this very strategic component of the transformation item to ensure that millions of unemployed youth in Nigeria are actively assisted to embrace modern-day agricultural profession because of the salient fact that no modern nation has ever become developed if it relies on mono-product as we do in Nigeria whereby crude oil seems to be receiving all the attention as Nigeria's only source of foreign exchange earner.

Agriculture stands in a very good position to take Nigeria's economy to the next level but government through the ministries of Youth Development; Agriculture; Finance and the office of the Special Presidential Adviser on MDG must partner to implement wholistic youth agricultural program to recruit our teeming youth into this sector.

I see hope that with the support of all genuine and credible youth in Nigeria, the current minister has the necessary competencies and professional pedigree to bring about radical transformation.

The hue and cry lately from some persons against the recent election of the National youth council of Nigeria is politically-motivated because there are abundance of evidence to show that those rebelling against the avowed resolve of the youth minister to bring about change are the same characters maligning the minister following a recent election in Makurdi, Benue state. I am told that those who lost out are persons who are clearly no longer within the age bracket of 18/35 years which is the official age for membership of any youth group.

* Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria [email protected]

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Emmanuel Onwubiko and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Emmanuel Onwubiko