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Published On: Wed, Jun 17th, 2020

Criminality and youth unemployment

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By Adegoke Hussein

What even are the causes of criminality? What would account for crime proliferation in recent times? How do we stem this tide? How does this government restore the mandate of a people on whose back it rode to become President? Does it even understand the problem on ground and/or its enormity?
I don’t like writing or talking about insurgency. It’s purposeless doing so. The approach we give to it as a people in Nigeria is tactless, to even say the least. Well, you may beg to disagree with me on this if those figures we savour everyday have been anything on the decline in your own view. If it is, that means Nigeria is working and Baba is trying. But if it isn’t, I am sorry, my take holds!
From Jonathan’s era to this current dispensation, I wonder if any major feat is on record to the tune of downsizing the statistics of criminality that prevails; of deaths, of a people in agony and of sheer savagery harvesting in broad daylight. Figures of crimes and atrocities have only remained what they are; figures. They are reeled out every day and we have become so used to them that we share in the grief of those bereaved not anymore or not as much as humanity would instruct.
It has become a scenery; a spectacle for us to behold not in awe but in indifference anytime we learn a soul was hacked of life. This is expected. I mean, I am no Doctor, but my Biology teacher taught me how the nose experiences an “odour fatigue”—tending to tolerate smelly sensations–having dined with it for too long.
You would read about the Boko Haram and their gruesome massacre of 81 Borno residents and not even bite a nail at that. It would take serial wailings and reactions (from mostly Northerners) before you become wary of the enormity of such heinous crime and the sorrow many a victim’s families was plunged into. The regularity of crimes and the news of a people butchered every day as if they were some livestock would wear your ears off. Until the gory details were fed to your sight, you might never know it was a soul like yours—that dreamt of living in times beyond Covid-19—that got carted away.
Aside from this horrible dimension we are wont to take to manslaughter, the customary disposition of the government to exaggerate its efforts towards curbing horrific incidents has not lessened the crisis. In simple English, the government does not help our understanding of crimes in its desperation to sound as if it is always “on top of the matter”. This spills great consequences. One is that it breeds insensitivity to crime, as I have explained earlier. The other is that it angers terror. Why would anyone, least of all to be an Army General, profess that Boko Haram has been decimated when it has not. Mahmoud Jega of Monday Daily Trust noted that it could have been this brutish talk given by the Army Chief Buratai that “irked” the BH boys and fortified them more to launch a strike and remain in action. It is sad that the innocent masses are the worst hit in all of these.
Well, enough of the reportage of crimes and their consequences. What even are the causes of criminality? What would account for crime proliferation in recent times? How do we stem this tide? How does this government restore the mandate of a people on whose back it rode to become President? Does it even understand the problem on ground and/or its enormity? It is not far-fetched why I never appreciate talking about insurgency as an individual, as I stated earlier. Firstly, I see the approach we give to curbing it as tantamount to curing the wilting crop in a wasteland with a torrential downpour. Yes, agreed, water is an essential component of plant growth. But if a particular crop that is deficient of the right earth form and not water should receive a hundred liters of the latter, it would still wither. Unless such crop is uprooted and sowed in loam or humus—which are some better agricultural soils so rich in organic matters to encourage sprouting and not munching—it would die off, intermittently.
Our government seeks to tackle every menace of crime as tactlessly as an infertile woman would crave her husband’s warmth to sabotage her condition. You don’t cut off the offshoot of a growth happening successively and expect that it would not rear its ugly head elsewhere. Going after a gang of robbers is only a short-term solution to the menace of robbery. Incarcerating Uwa’s ravishers is only a temporal solution to incessant rape attacks. The long-term remedy to all lies in rehabilitating those youth that are involved in the crimes and making their peers that are just yet to be involved in one criminality or the other employable. If they have no education—to even pretend there are no tons of graduates on the streets already, who walk aimlessly about—give them education. If they have no skill, make them skillful. Just make the youth employable and absorb them into the mainstream of work based on their competencies. Then, watch as the actual decimation of crime would happen. Don’t tell us there are no jobs. Create them if there are truly none. The millions of dollars borrowed annually to renovate our “ever green” national assembly can find more fruitful use in this than ever.
What we do not understand is that every insurgency bears down to the porosity of the youth; or to their vulnerability in being exploited to perpetrate crimes. The youth’s perpetual Idleness and non-involvement in solid engagements are never corroborated by their agility and the exuberance that is associated with that age group. If any government would not harness such nimbleness for its good, banditry would for what it is. With the dearth of money and the absence of a conscience that is formidable against ills and avarice, the errant youth is persuaded into criminality. Only the fear of God or of some mundane laws and the desire to preserve family honour and prestige would deter few from not jumping on the next Rolce Royce when there comes such at the behest of evil. What more, save human sympathy for the one that is not under the influence of hard drugs, would prevent the hungry youth from trying out the latest bomb on a people for a compromised sum? Let the government get the economy working so to absorb all stranded (and straying) youth, firstly, so it can look on for progress.
We could borrow a leaf from what Kwankwaso did to decimate the peculiar riots and rioters of Kano in his days as Governor. I speak about the “Karota”, for those who know that story. Work! Work! Work! The government should cater to the banal youth unemployment in the country to set up more firms while it mitigates the worrisome conditions of the old ones. Every year, thousands of graduates are churned out from our various learning institutions but without any hope of survival; without jobs to they could live on to attain their lofty dreams. They earn no worthy income to sustain their aging parents and the generation of people they (would) beget. Should it be rocket science to know that if these plummeting adversities that bedevil this vibrant age group persist, it would take just more time before the most Godly and morally conscious amongst them finally joins the cankerworm of the Hushpuppi-like gang who must roughen the polity?
Adegoke Hussein is a youth that resides within Nigeria. Email:

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