By Bemdoo Hulugh
Dear Gov. Ortom, The Youth Need Urgent Attention
Your Excellency,let me first of all congratulate you on finally assembling a team that will help you fulfil your campaign promises to the good people of Benue State. The people of Benue State can’t wait to start feeling the change you promised but the unfortunate condition of the young people in the State need more urgent attention.
The young people in Benue state have been neglected and excluded by government over the years. The World Bank quoted in one of their report that 64 percent of Benue Youth are unemployed, which makes us the state in Nigeria with the highest number of idle young people. This means more than half of the young people in Benue are suffering from low self-esteem, do not feel accepted by society, may end up not utilising their talent, lose interest in life as a whole and have a high possibility of ending up in poverty. These are some of the damning effects of unemployment on an individual.
Over the years, young people in our state have been starved of good role models as fellow youths who had access to those in power were mostly prostitutes and political thugs. Graduates and other law abiding youths were struggling to earn a living while illiterate political thugs and prostitutes were living the good life. They were made to pay homage to these low-lives and morally bankrupt people to get anything they wanted and this has greatly affected the morals and dreams of the young people. It was beginning to look like education doesn’t matter any longer in Benue as those with university degrees were going to illiterate political thugs(some who couldn’t even construct pigin english) and prostitutes to beg for money.
The condition of young people in the state is so pathetic. They have been reduced to beggars, instrument of violence and sex toys. Your Excellency, it is not too late to turn things around. The older generation has carelessly dismissed them as “the spoilt children of nowadays”, forgetting it is their responsibility to raise them. You must urgently do something to save Benue youths.
I am happy that you are aware of some of the many challenges facing youths in the state, that is why you hinted the SMEDAN Director-General who paid you a courtesy call in Abuja about partnering with them to economically empower the youth. Youth empowerment must this time go beyond the usual vocational training. Government loan facilities for SMEs that have over the years been accessible only by the politically connected,politicians and traditional rulers who most times use the money to buy cars and marry more wives must this time around be deliberately extended to young people with bankable business proposals.
The major problem of youth in the state today is unemployment but there are other issues of inter-youth violence(cultism) that has cut short the lives of so many brilliant minds(this will be a story for another day), lack of inter-generational dialogue that has made it difficult for the older generation to support the dreams of young people and a rotten education system that has turned our class rooms and lecture theatres into halls of shame. Your agenda for Benue youth must go beyond economic empowerment, your vision should be to empower them to be agents of change in not just Benue and Nigeria but the rest of the world. It is about that time Benue produce young people that believe it is their responsibility to make their community and the world a better place.
The NBS(National Bureau Of Statistics) in 2010, said in Benue, more than one out of every three persons is poor, more than one out of every four persons of working age is unemployed and went ahead to rate the state the 8th poorest in Nigeria. With our rich agricultural potentials, this is a shame and an indictment on previous governments but I believe strongly that if the present condition of the youth is transformed then Benue State will change for good. I hope that your youth policies will deliberately produce young successful entrepreneurs, scholars, inventors and many shining youngsters in different fields. It can be done and may God guide you to do what is right and necessary.
Bemdoo Hulugh is an active citizen, he writes from Makurdi
You can also interact with him on tweeter @bumy04