National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) President, Abdullahi Abdulmajeed, in this interview with Hassan Haruna Ginsau, lamented the increasing unemployment and the poverty challenges that Nigerian youths are subjected in addition to vicious insecurity problem that mostly affect the youths.
Tell us more about the address that you delivered on the floor of this conference We have heard of deaths in Jigawa, Katina, Zamfara, Benue, Nasarawa. Every day, people are being killed and the root of the problem remains unknown. Often, the government says the killers are Fulani herdsmen and at another they it is Boko Haram. However, it is obvious that the problem in Nigeria is beyond Boko Haram or Fulani herdsmen.
First of all, we the youths are experiencing unemployment, poverty and several other problems which can bring about insecurity. In my presentation last week during the debate on the presidential speech, I advised that rather than dwell on the talk of Nigeria’s improved GDP, we should be practical. If the country’s GDP grows, it is a thing of pride for the country, but an improved GDP without feasible on the people and core development projects translate to no growth at all. It is useless because GDP isn’t food.
True, the government is trying its best, everyone knows this, but there is more work to be done, and like I said what bothers Nigerian youth mostly is the problems of unemployment, poverty and insecurity, which make their future uncertain. Therefore, we need a government that is ready to create jobs, give food, to create opportunities. Our universities need to be provided with modern facilities to make learning conducive and attractive, make people to want to be educated, meet international standard in learning and ensure that graduates are truly graduates capable of competing intellectually with their peers across the world.
You (delegates) have put forward your demands to this assembly, what are they?
Firstly, the youths need employment. Secondly, we are in very harsh conditions. Thirdly, I think that if we are to critically analyse the universities in this country and compare them with universities around the world which you would say there are qualified lecturers, and their lecturing methods are of a world standard, in Nigeria at most there are only 3 universities of this standard. This is a big problem, if we don’t have universities in which we can educate people, there’s no way the country will develop.
Also, the manner in which lives are being lost and killings that are going on, it is a situation that has put us in a state of discontent, we are constantly in a state of discontent, and we need the government to help. If you check, majority of those being killed are youths, children and women, so it is essentially us that are in this trouble, and we need help.
Every time we sit here you will hear people talking about Nigeria in 1960, 1970, and 1980 when everybody’s mind was at rest, when the world was in peace, people were comfortable in Nigeria, but if you would observe, majority of us youths today, ever since we came to this world, we never met anything good in Nigeria, we were born in harsh conditions and still remain in harsh conditions, therefore people should think deeply here (the national conference). We didn’t come here to make people wealthy, we need people to come and talk honestly about how to bring us out of these harsh conditions, that’s what we want.
The recommendations of the conference will be forwarded to the National Assembly that is not totally in favour of this conference. If they discard it what next, then?
Well, it is the people that voted them in, and the people of Nigeria have rights over them. Don’t forget that elections are behind the corner, and when you talk about sovereignty, the original power is in the hands of the people, not in theirs, they were given a covenant to hold for a short time. The people that are there are given only 4 years, in 2015 there has to be another election, and it is the people of Nigeria that are sitting here, because there is no way you will say that the things being said here isn’t the voice of Nigerians.
If we come and discuss, establish a common ground, and produce a document that if implemented will bring about peace and development in Nigeria, if the National assembly doesn’t implement it, the people of Nigeria will respond at the polls.
What messages do have for youths and Nigerians on this conference?
First of all, we will advise people that believe that youth should be in perpetual protests, be always revolting before they are heard to have a rethink. Youth are ready to follow order, be law abiding and we have been doing this unless where we are pushed to the wall. We had adopted the protest measures since independence and nothing much has been achieved. Now, we are following the course of persuasion, we are constantly pleading with the leaders, our parents in authority to accord us our rights, consider our situation and help prepare us for tomorrow.
The kind of thing that happened in Egypt, and what is happening in Syria because of extreme poverty and hunger that the people are in, we don’t hope for that to happen in Nigeria. We are always telling our leaders that same thing could happen in Nigeria if people and the youth in particular are pushed to the wall, especially if the necessary measures are not taken. But we are always pleading with the youth not to start protests, unrest, or anything that will increase the problems we are already facing.
Lastly, my advice to fellow youth is that we should be united. When we sit with one another, and respect each other, we can achieve all our goals in Nigeria, but if we are divided and someone says he is Muslim while the other says he is Christian, when one says he is from the North, and another says he is from the south, we will not last.