Buhari on youth migration
While the president’s concern is touching and thoughtful, what would be more meaningful is for him, as a leader, to set an example in Nigeria by creating a conducive environment with opportunities for all.
Otherwise, blatant misrule and economic mismanagement by a depraved leadership across Africa which have left the populace in abject poverty will continue to push the young ones out in search of an elusive better life abroad.
With mass unemployment and grinding poverty, young people have been left with no other option than to seek greener pastures elsewhere, even at the risk of losing their lives.
The trend is reversible if only the political leadership would shun corruption, selfish indulgence and show commitment to the welfare of the people. The resources to build a strong and virile economy are there and making the home front attractive is the only solution to the embarrassment of migration.
President Buhari spoke at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Sahel and West Africa Week organised by the Food Crisis Prevention Network in Abuja.The president, who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, even said migration to Europe was unfair to the European countries.
For him the revitalisation of agriculture is a solution to the issue and expressed his readiness to support farmers to boost local food production in the country.
He reiterated government’s concern over the rising unemployment in the country which he said can be tackled by the revitalisation of agriculture to provide jobs.
To achieve this, he said, his government has decided to rely less on rainfall for farming but would create dams and water reservoirs with the aim of harvesting food at least three times in a year.The other day, President Buhari disclosed that his administration would construct additional 400 dams to boost irrigation across the country. Nigerians will hold the president to his words.
Among other things, there is need to curb unemployment among the youths, which has reached an alarming level. Nigeria’s unemployment rate stood at 13.3 per cent in the second quarter of 2016, up from 12.1 per cent in the preceding three months. The figure is now presumed to have notched up a few more points.
Not long ago, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), noted that a total of 22.45 million of the total labour force of 76.96 million were either unemployed or under-employed in the last quarter of 2015 compared to 20.7 million in Q3 and 19.6 million in Q2.
Rather than abate, the unemployment crisis has worsened since the middle of 2016 as a result of the economic recession. Many companies have either cut down on operations or folded up completely, leading to mass layoff of workers. Consequently, thousands of people have been pushed to the edge, making them opt to flee their homeland.
Across Africa, unending conflicts pitching ethnic, political and religious interest against each other present an existential problem. Besides, the wave of terrorism and extremism that has bred violent groups like Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda and ISIS that spilled over from the Middle East, constitutes a threat to peaceful human living.
Consequently, what started as routine movement by scores of mainly economically deprived migrants fleeing hardship in Africa has turned into a global nightmare.
Over time, the countries whose citizens are fleeing conflicts and economic hardship have multiplied in number to include Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, India and Cote d’Ivoire.
The others are Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia and Zimbabwe. Nigeria’s inclusion in this unenviable list is particularly embarrassing, given the huge wealth of human and material resources at the country’s disposal.
In Nigeria, the tragedy is compounded by the fact that the citizens are largely victimised by the unbridled exploitation perpetrated by the political class. The youths are particularly distressed as thousands graduate from schools yearly without employment or any hope of a good life. These conditions compel them to seek to leave their country, under any condition, by any means and to just about anywhere.
Those who can brave it head to Libya across the Sahara in the hope of getting to Europe from there. The consequences of these desperate moves have often been fatal.
Certainly, the system does not give young Nigerians any reason to have faith in their country and this is what President Muhammadu Buhari should address urgently.