The Role of Government in Youth Empowerment
Youth Empowerment: The role of youth in the political, economic and social growth of any country across the globe cannot be exaggerated. The definition of youth varies from one country to another, depending on its peculiarities. According to Nigeria’s National Youth Policy (2009), the youth comprise all individuals, males and females between the age of 18 and 35 years, who are citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In Nigeria, the youths constitute a significant percentage of the country’s population.
The continuous increase in unemployment in Nigeria is very alarming. The unemployment rate put at 27.1 per cent and the underemployment rate at 28.6 per cent has a direct link with the poor standard of living. Of course, a more significant percentage of the unemployed and underemployed population in Nigeria today are the youths being economically active population. Some of the factors responsible for this situation are overpopulation, lack of political will, lack of basic social amenities especially in rural areas, poor quality of education, lack of employable skills, corruption, poor implementation of development programs amongst others.
Unemployment has lured several youths into engaging in activities that appear to them to be the easiest source of livelihood and means of satisfying their wants. This anomic situation is usually a result of their inability to meet their basic needs through legitimate means. This is evident in youths’ participation in illicit activities ranging from armed robbery, pick-pocketing, political thuggery, ballot box snatching, kidnappings, drug abuse, and vandalization (The Centre for Public Policy Alternatives, 2016; Ukwayi, Pius and Ojong-Ejoh, 2017).
It is imperative to acknowledge the government’s efforts in addressing the unemployment problem in Nigeria through the implementation of different social intervention programmes. Some of these programmes include Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YOU-WIN), the SURE-P Technical Vocational Education, Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS), and Training Programme (TVET), Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP), N-Power, Government Economic Empowerment Program (GEEP), and the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT). However, the questions that we should ask ourselves are; are these programmes designed based on needs assessment? Who are the principal beneficiaries? How are the recipients selected? To what extent have these programmes reduced youths’ unemployment? Can we confidently say that these programmes have empowered youths?
The present administration needs to review its current empowerment programmes targeted at reducing unemployment among youths. The government should involve the youth in redesigning the programmes, prioritizing areas of interventions based on needs assessment, developing measurable indicators and putting in place mechanisms to ensure effective implementation of the programmes. Their participation will enhance the development process, especially in taking ownership, improve their productivity and quality of life.