Opinion: Memo to incoming youth minister

by Murtala Adogi Mohammed

President-Goodluck-Jonathan

Working together with youth both online and offline is very important for any minister of youth development that want to succeed. Therefore, the new Youth Minister will have to be… one who thoroughly understands the tools and ways of how the social media works.

There is currently a vacancy in the federal cabinet, for a minister of youth development. The post became vacant as a result of the sacking of the former minister of youth last month. The ministry oversees two government agencies: National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), and the Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre and other youth-centered initiatives.

This essay, intends to draw the attention of the pickers of the in-coming minister to note that this is 2013, not 1983 and the kind of minister the Nigerian youths want at this critical point must posses certain skills, knowledge and understanding of the contemporary youth issues and the challenges of youth unemployment and poverty as drivers of violence and conflicts.

The critical thing about the Youth Ministry is that if you are not quick to understand it, you can lose track. That is why the in-coming minister must have networking and partnership skills to collaborate with core ministries – Education, Health Agriculture Justice, and Labour, with aims of addressing the challenges of youth development and empowerment through inter-ministerial platform.

Secondly, the in-coming Minister of Youth Development as a stand-alone ministry must be up to date with factual statistics, studies, research and data that will inform key decisions, policy direction and submission of memo at the executive council for deliberation and approval.  For instance one study that the minister must be familiar with is that of the British Council that was released In 2010. In a nutshell, the report revealed that Nigeria’s booming population of young people might be a great dividend for the country’s economy in the coming decades, but if the Nigerian government does not take steps to engage young people, the country might faced a “demographic disaster”. Three years down the line, the picture painted by the report is becoming more vivid as what I may call ‘the youth condition’ is worsening.

Thirdly, the potential minister must develop a quick-win huge-impact programs and projects that would address the challenges of youth unemployment. In our country of about 170 million people, 60 per cent is youthful. It is projected that by the year 2020, Nigeria’s population will cross the 200 million mark, and by 2050 the country would be the fifth most populous country in the world. Is it not scary to imagine a youth population in tens of millions that are engaged in the use of hard drugs, vandalism, oil theft, kidnapping, Internet fraud, prostitution, thuggery, and other vices?

President Goodluck Jonathan, the new minister and his team should note that, without remedial action, the crisis in the job market will continue to worsen as growing numbers of young Nigerians enter the workforce. Nigeria needs to create almost 25 million jobs over the next ten years if it is to offer work to new entrants, and halve current unemployment rate.

Fourthly, it is important for the Minister to have better understanding of the need to collaborate with the private sector, civil society groups, and international development partners. This task is very crucial as it will help in leveraging development partners and private sectors resources.  There are several local and multinational businesses operating in Nigeria that have youth development programmes as part of their corporate social responsibility from scholarships to job placements. There are also a good numbers of international development organizations (prominent examples include the World Bank, African Development Bank, British Council, DFID, US Embassy and USAID) that focus on youth development. The new youth minister must use his influence as a member of  the executive council to push donors and implementing partners to develop long-term, quick-impact intervention with support of youth-based organizations to provide skills and entrepreneurial trainings, job placements, business development services and conditional credit to youths

Fifthly, working together with youth both online and offline is very important for any minister of youth development that want to succeed. Therefore, the new Youth Minister will have to be a social media-guru, one who thoroughly understands the tools and ways of how the social media works. This requirement is non-negotiable as a substantial part of the engagement with young Nigerians will have to be done through blogs, Facebook, Quora, Twitter and Instagram by responding to questions raised by young Nigerians. Mr President please remember that, This is 2013, not 1983!

In addition, the new minister must facilitate the repositioning the youth development Ministry – specifically to sustainably increase the access of unemployed youth to entrepreneurial skills and employment opportunities for self-reliance and income security by working together with key government departments and agencies that implements projects and schemes such SURE P, NDE, SMEDAN, NAPEP, YOU-WIN and others. If Nigeria fails to empower the teeming populations of young people, the seriousness of the country’s predicament should not be underestimated. Its prospects will be bleak and could be catastrophic. Please the in-coming Minister and the Pickers of the Minister notes this!

I will conclude with some of the key findings of the British Council 2010 report, which revealed that, Nigeria stands on the threshold of what could be the greatest transformation in its history. By 2030, it will be one of the few countries in the world that has young workers in plentiful supply…Youth, not oil, will be the country’s most valuable resource in the twenty-first century.

 

— Mohammed is Special Assistant, Youth Empowerment to  Governor Umar Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State.

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Read this article on the Leadership Newspapers

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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