Young and Useful Engaging the Youth for a Prosperous Nigeria.

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The future of every nation lies in its youths. But the nature of such tomorrow depends on how well their energies are harnessed. The dream of many youths for Nigeria is that in which the youths are productive and active participants in the drive for a prosperous nation. For their dreams to be achieved, they must have opportunities to develop their potentials and talents.

The world is experiencing a bulge in its youth population and as a result there has been a dearth of employment as the current labour market cannot accommodate the number of youths seeking employment. Of particular concern is that countless young people in developing countries like Nigeria will reach employment age within the next decade but the question is: Where is the employment opportunities?

Frustration in the search for livelihood heightens the attraction of youths to illicit activities manifesting in social instabilities we observe nowadays. In this essay I also discussed the social and economic consequences of youth unemployment in Nigeria whilst providing solutions through the ‘Young and Useful’ club. The club is a youth-led project that aims to resolve youth joblessness through skills acquisition and entrepreneurship while also seeking to turn youth advocates of social change by their active participation in community service. The club partners with the local community, organisations and government agencies to achieve its goals. It also seeks other financial measures at ensuring that access to funds which is a main obstacle to business start-ups by youths is tackled.

People-centred and participatory approaches to development rightly ask questions about the role of young people in contributing to and driving societal advancement. How can their enormous potential be harnessed? How can young people be integrated into existing societal and economic structures, rather than being left out? Sheer numbers justify this concern; the world population now has the largest ever share of youths. Young people make up 24.7 percent of the world’s working age population. However of this number, some 85 million to 90 million can’t find a job while a staggering 300 million are working but earning US$2 a day or less .

Nigeria has a population of 140 million people with 80 million youths- and 60% youth unemployment rate. The youth constitutes one of the biggest untapped resources to build solutions for the country’s developmental challenges. Youth unemployment in Nigeria have been associated with problems relating to inexperience of young job seekers, limited opportunities, fall of the agricultural sector, poor infrastructure such as power and transportation that aids business development and an environment hostile to young entrepreneurs. The reality today is that the rate of job creation in the formal sector of the nation‘s economy cannot cope with the population growth rate and output of our schools which makes it imperative that we start giving attention to entrepreneurship and small and medium scale enterprises development if this time bomb called youth unemployment must end.

Unemployment results not only in household poverty but also in losses to the economy in terms of potential output, tax revenues and human capital. It is agreed that youth employment is a critical element of a nation’s stability and a proven antidote to the loss of hope which often results in social and political turmoil . “Jobless growth isn’t just bad social policy, it is bad economics,” says ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. “It results in less consumption, more migration and lower aggregate demand” .

Today when I look around, I see a society marred by a myriad of problems arising from youth unemployment with youth restiveness topping the list. In view of this I carried out a survey of 137 people in my community Osogbo on what they think is the major cause of youth restiveness. The results...
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