It is a great honor for me to present a speech as a Special Guest of honour on this auspicious occasion of the first International Youth Work Week convention and capacity building workshop of Nigeria Youth Workers Association.
I am delighted that this maiden International Youth Work Week convention and capacity building will not only create awareness on the crucial need to galvanise human and other resources to confront headlong the high rate of youth unemployment and the excruciating burdens it has placed not only on the Governments at all levels but the entire Nigeria society.
There is no gainsaying that youth unemployment is a great challenge facing all governments in various parts of the World and Nigeria is experiencing her fair share of the consequences of unemployment. This has been worsened by the recent COVID-19 Pandemic which has ravaged economies and led to the closure of many small medium enterprises and drastically affected big organizations thereby rendering redundant our youth and increasing the unemployment rate.
The Federal Government over the years has initiated and implemented various programs and projects to curtail youth unemployment by engaging them in meaningful and productive ventures that lead to socio-economic growth and development. The present Administration under President Muhammadu Buhari in the past six years has initiated and implemented very laudable programs to mitigate the growing menace of youth unemployment haunting the Nigeria State. These include Presidential Youth empowerment scheme (P-YES) under the Special Assistant to the President on youth, the N-Power, the Youth entrepreneurship Support (YES) programme, Graduate internship Scheme, Technology Fund for Young innovators.
The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development under my watch launched the DEEL initiative aimed at giving Nigerian Youth a comparative edge in the global employment demand and supply. DEEL is an acronym for D-digital Skills acquisition, E-employability, E-Entrepreneurship and L- Leadership. The DEEL initiative has equipped 200,000 youth with basic, intermediate and advanced skill in areas such as Web design and management, software training, cloud competing, Artificial Intelligence, App development, code and data processing, etc.
All these efforts would amount to little or nothing if those who are responsible for programme design and implementation are not equally adequately prepared. It is for this reason that the coming together of the body of youth development practitioners, under the banner of the Nigerian Youth Workers Association is a welcome and an important milestone in the journey of youth development in Nigeria.
Mr. Chairman Sir, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, my comrades in the youth work practice, as you are aware, the issue of advancing youth development according to the motto of your association is no doubt a multifaceted phenomenon which requires a multi-sectoral approach. This is because no one agency or organ of government can adequately address youth issues/ challenges, hence we need to have all hands on deck in tackling these challenges, and the time is now. In the words of Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, “Young People ought not to be idle. It is very bad for them”. It is this idleness of young people in our society that has either led to or heightened the very bad influences of kidnapping, insurgency, banditry, Boko haram, human trafficking, prostitution, cyber crimes, terrorist activities, armed robbery with violence, etc.
In the light of the foregoing, I challenge this gathering to come up with unique ways and strategies that would facilitate the professionalization of youth development work in Nigeria, with a view to aiding in tackling the challenges facing our young people in other for us to secure a sustainable future.
Finally, I wish to commend the organisers and partners for this laudable initiative for organizing this convention and capacity building workshop which is worthy of emulation. I request that the report be made available to the Ministry for consideration of our partnership and continued collaboration in the future.
Thank you all and God bless