I AM NOT THE ATTRACTION LIKE JESUS CHRIST WAS NOT THE ATTRACTION IN HIS DAY. MY MESSAGE IS NOT A PLEASANT ONE THAT CAN ATTRACT THE WORLD. I ONLY CAME FOR MY OWN- MY PEOPLE. BELIEVE IT IF YOU CAN…
I am the Fountain of the Living Water. Whosoever shall come to Me and drink,
shall never go thirsty again, but have everlasting life. Believe it if you can... — The Son of Man.               

“THE FUTURE OF THE NIGERIAN YOUTHS (STUDENTS) IN THE PREVAILING STATE OF THE NATION”

 
A BRIEF LECTURE DELIVERED BY APOSTLE PETER ODOEMENA (THE SON OF MAN) DURING THE 11TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF DIGNITY CONSULT FACULTY OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA, ENUGU CAMPUS,  ON THE 22ND OF JULY, 2011.

INTRODUCTION
Your Future is in Your Hands
You can control your future if you want to.  This is so because you have the power to control and manage your thoughts to your own advantage or disadvantage.  As you think in your heart, so you are. 
You can change the direction of your whole life if you wish.  You are your own self driver with your brain as your steering and your mind as your eyes.  Just like the vehicle driver, if you lose consciousness of yourself or lose control of your steering, you are bound to crash. 
As the sole driver, you will either drive yourself to safety or to destruction, to success or to failure.  The choice is yours.  A good driver that is determined to reach his destination on time and alive too. In addition, he must be very careful to avoid all avoidable obstacles and distractions along the way and focus all his attention on his destination.
Thus, you can therefore effect a positive change in your life by thinking success, dreaming dreams bigger than your present condition, being diligent, having a strong belief in yourself to succeed come what may, striving earnestly to be above average, inculcating and developing the right attitude to life’s situations and circumstances—you can change your situations from bad to good, worse to better and better to best.
The Almighty God created you in His own image and likeness and commanded you to subdue the world and occupy.  To be in control of your future requires that you do not only think success, but you also act success. 
“THE FUTURE OF THE NIGERIAN YOUTHS (STUDENTS) IN THE PREVAILING STATE OF THE NATION”
As the future of every family is dependent on the quality and not the quantity of the youths in that family, so is the future of any nation tied to the quality and not quantity of the youths in that nation. It is upon this backdrop that the various tertiary institutions are established to raise highly developed youths academically, morally, psychologically and skilfully as well, that will meet the developmental needs of the country hence they are regarded as the future leaders.
To realise this objective, the governments at various levels, namely the Federal, State and Local governments must ensure that the future of these youths are protected by assuring them of gainful employment after graduating from their various institutions of learning with remunerations that will make them feel a little comfortable in the society that is facing unacceptable height of inflation. I am of a strong opinion that the best practicable way of protecting the future of the Nigerian youths is by providing jobs for them or assisting them financially and otherwise to be self-employed. If this is not done, the youths who are restive by nature and ambitious as well, must surely feel discontented, with its disastrous consequences.
Having highlighted the topic, I will like to break it into three distinct sub-headings:
1.       The future of the Nigerian youths in relationship to employment by the various governments namely, the Federal, State and Local governments;
2.       The future of the Nigerian youths in relationship to employment in the organised private sector;
3.       The future of the Nigerian youths in relationship to job creation or self-employment.
(1) The Future of the Nigerian Youths in Relationship to Employment by the Various Governments Namely, the Federal, State and Local Governments
        As I earlier said, the strength of any family is measured by the capacity of the youths in that family. One of the fundamental indices of any failed family is the inability of the parents of that family to provide the educational, health, moral and other relevant needs of the children in that family. This, of course, is a very big disappointment to the children and they must feel discontented and this has been the basis of all the troubles parents have experienced and are still experiencing in their homes.
        It is, therefore, not an overstatement to say that the greatest problem facing Nigeria is mass-unemployment and the second is mass-illiteracy. I wish to concern myself here with mass-unemployment as it affects the future of the Nigerian graduate youths.
        There is a brazen discontent in Nigeria among the youths. The youths are not happy with our leaders for their abject neglect over the years. Millions of our youths annually pass out of their institutions of learning without any hope of securing employment either in the federal, state or local government establishments. They appear hopeless and helpless and these are the productive youths that will be the leaders of tomorrow. Unemployment among the youths is a hydra-headed evil that breeds poverty and poverty breeds all kinds of robberies, kidnapping and other forms of terrorism prevalent among our youths. This is so because these youths want to survive; they want to give expression to themselves and if possible, force the nation to give them a sense of belonging to their fatherland. In as much as I condemn acts of violence and terrorism in strong terms, they must surely manifest as a sign of the discontentment of the youths for their total neglect in the scheme of things in Nigeria by all the three tiers of government.
        The regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo (Rtd) promised to create about twenty million jobs for the jobless graduates during his tenure. Instead of creating jobs, Nigeria witnessed the greatest disengagement of workers from the Federal Civil Service in the name of Public Service Reforms. Over twenty million workers lost their jobs and yet, nobody was employed.
(2) The Future of the Nigerian Youths in Relationship to Employment in the Private sectors
        The private sector is composed of two categories namely:
A.           The organised private sector such as the financial institutions, multinational companies and firms, etc.
The financial institutions are the hardest hit by the global economic melt-down. The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Charles Soludo, assured Nigerians that the global economic melt-down would not affect financial institutions in Nigeria adversely. Before our very eyes, the evil wind ravaged the economy of Nigeria that was ailing, leaving all our financial institutions ravaged and shattered. The resultant effect was that many such institutions liquidated, some merged with affiliate groups, while some operated epileptically. The situation reached an unbearable height that thousands of workers were declared redundant while their gates were completely sealed against all job seekers, especially the graduate youths. This ugly trend has remained unabated till today, hence no hope for any graduate youth securing a job in any of the financial institutions in the country again. If any should be considered for a place in any of them, the person must ride on the back of a very big stakeholder in that financial institution. How many of the youths can boast of having such people?
        If any was employed at all, it was courtesy of the person’s affinity with any of the members of the National Assembly or Aso Rock or a political juggernaut in Nigeria. The privatisation of all public enterprises in the days of Obasanjo in office threw thousands of workers within their productive ages out of jobs, thereby compounding the problem of unemployment in the country.
        All the various programmes being put in place by all the governments at all levels to stem down the rate of unemployment among the Nigerian youths have remained amorphous. Nothing at all has crystallised out of any of them and nothing will ever come out of them in the near future. They remain political gimmicks only aimed at capturing the votes of the electorates. A repressive democratic practice such as being witnessed in Nigeria today, which favour only the elite to the neglect of the common people, what do you think the future holds for the Nigerian youths? A situation where the governments have no clear-cut plan on how to create jobs where the teeming youths can be absorbed leaves their future unpredictable. The same is also applicable to getting a job in any of the multinational concerns.
B. The unorganised private sectors include establishments owned by one man or partnership and they differ in sizes and conditions of employment. Most of those establishments do not pay the minimum wage of Nigeria because they cannot afford it. Some give horrifying conditions of service, while a good number of them indulge in slave labour ranging from casualization of workers to brutalization of workers. In spite of the obnoxious nature of employment coupled with the misery pittance which they offer as wages, graduate youths still work for them instead of staying idle. This class of employers today appear to be the last hope of our graduate youths in Nigeria. What an awful development that calls for a redress if Nigeria must have a sustainable future for the youths!
(3) The Future of the Nigerian Youths in Relationship to Job Creation or Self-Employment
        The best form of employment is self-employment. It offers the employer enough opportunity to manage his time, resources and even his future. Since he invests his money expecting a profit, he must display all his entrepreneurship capabilities to make sure he realises his objectives. His future, to a large extent, depends on how effective he manages his establishment. As a risk bearer, he is very meticulous in taking decisions especially in the areas of finance.
        This last form of employment is not an easy venture for a fresh graduate youth who may not have the needed financial and infrastructure backing unless those that come from wealthy homes, but how many of them? The National Directorate of Employment, which is solely established by the federal government to provide the fresh graduate youths with the needed entrepreneurship training and skill acquisition, after which the beneficiary will be given a loan ranging from one hundred and fifty thousand to fifty thousand Naira for the establishment of a small scale business is tied to bureaucratic bottlenecks, hence its impact has not been felt in job creation for the youths in the country.
        The micro-finance firms do not give loans to fresh graduates in Nigeria using their certificates as collaterals. How then can the youths be self-employed with empty hands? Do we now encourage them to push wheel barrows, drive keke-NAPEP or bikes instead of staying idle? What actually does the future hold for the Nigerian youths in the contemporary Nigerian democratic government?
Suggestions
My suggestions to the various governments on possible steps to protect the future of the Nigerian youths, so as to ease their frustration and reduce the violent tendencies in them include:
(1)   Abolition of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC)
        The NYSC scheme was introduced by the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (Rtd) in 1973, to foster social and cultural re-integration of Nigeria after the Nigeria civil war. The scheme made it mandatory for all graduates of tertiary institutions in Nigeria, including colleges of education, to be posted to states of the federation other than their states of origin where they will be posted to places or establishments for their primary assignments for one year. Appointment into any public office in Nigeria was denied any graduate that refused to serve in the scheme. Apart from social and cultural re-integration, the scheme offered the needed manpower in the places of the primary assignments on a yearly basis. Today, the scheme is no longer useful to the nation. If after about thirty-eight years of introduction of the NYSC scheme, the country has not been socially and culturally re-integrated so as to accept one another as fellow Nigerians in good faith irrespective of one’s religion or political inclination, then the scheme should be abolished.
        Secondly, employers of labour in the educationally disadvantaged areas in Nigeria see the posting of the corpers as a cheapest means of supply of professional labour at little or no cost. The worst is that the employers, be it federal, state, Local government or other corporate bodies, do not offer employments to those corpers that served in their establishments. The reason is that after every service year, another batch of professional manpower must be mandatorily posted to them. With this prevailing state of affairs, how can those employers publish vacancies for qualified and prospective graduates again? As far as I am concerned, this is an indirect way of casualisation of the Nigerian graduate youths in their employment. The Nigerian youths should please join hands and say no to this unprogressive and repressive scheme unless government will make it compulsory for the places of corpers’ primary assignments to recruit those graduates.
(2)  Reduce the Retirement Age of Civil Servants to Fifty-Five Years and Service Period to Thirty Years.
The largest employers of the Nigerian labour force remain the federal, state and local governments. Employees are allowed to continue in service for thirty-five years or sixty-years of age, whichever that comes first before retiring from service. This does not augur well to the employment of our teeming graduate youths. Despite this long period of service, some unproductive and unscrupulous ones still falsify their ages and even collude with corrupt officials to change their records of service so that they will die in the service. Since these dead woods are still allowed to remain in the service, how can the numerous, vibrant and productive graduate youths be employed? The earlier the various governments sanitize the civil service and other related public offices, the better for the Nigerian youths.
(3)   Provision of infrastructures in the rural areas
        The various governments should map out at least twenty percentage of their annual budgets for rural infrastructure developments such as good feeder roads, steady electricity, potable water, steady and daily market in every community in the seven hundred and seventy-four local governments in Nigeria. If this is done, investors will be attracted to the rural areas for meaningful investment, which will in turn create jobs for our teeming youths. It will also reduce the rate of rural urban migration.
(4)   Development of Skill Acquisition Centres in all the Local Governments of the Federation.
        Skill acquisition centres, if developed, will help the Nigerian youths to up-date their knowledge and at the same time impart skills in those who have certificates, but no skills. A skilful graduate does not suffer unemployment. He engages himself.
(5)   Provision of Soft-Loans to Prospective Graduate Youths using their Certificates as Collaterals.
        The government should issue a directive to the micro-finance banks to grant soft-loan to prospective graduate youths to enable them set up viable business centres, collecting their certificates as collaterals. The amount to be granted must be such that can guarantee the smooth take off of the business as can be seen in the feasibility studies to be tendered by the applicant. Granting somebody a loan of ten thousand Naira for a business that requires a capital take off of one million Naira renders the whole exercise useless and this has been the practice all these years, hence the Nigerian youths cannot establish themselves after leaving schools.
(6)   Government at all Levels should assist in the Recapitalisation of all the distressed banks instead of Liquidating them.
        The unproductive directives of the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) coupled with the ineptitude of the former managements of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), crippled the economic activities of most of the banks in the country, thereby throwing a good chunk of the Nigerian graduate youths out of job.
        It was a useless policy to have directed commercial banks to over-float their shares to the general public for subscription, even at lowest rates and at the same time granting their numerous customers loans to purchase the quoted shares. This unproductive exercise caused numerous customers to owe the banks debts that cannot be recovered forever, even with the help of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). As a result of this ugly development, most of the badly affected banks became insolvent. Liquidating them means throwing more productive youths out of jobs, thereby compounding the problems associated with mass unemployment of the graduate youths; while recapitalising them, will create more job opportunities and also improve the economy of the nation. The banks should also have zero tolerance for all corrupt officials no matter how highly placed in their establishments. If this is observed, the banking sector stands to create more job opportunities for the graduate youths with favourable conditions of service.
(7)   States should Partner with Time Tested and Progressive Industrialists in the Country.
The states should partner with time tested and proven industrialists in the country, to expand their scope of operations and increase the volume of production, since such establishments have not less than five thousand workers in their payroll and have made giant strides or contributions to the Nigeria’s economy. This idea is by far better than establishing parastatals to be manned by sycophants and medeocres who will find their ways into such set-ups through their political inclinations and parochialism, thereby making the venture unprofitable. With about three billion Naira, a state can establish an industry that will be capable of providing jobs to over two thousand Nigerian youths and still make reasonable profits. If this can be done in the thirty-six states of the federation and also extended to all the local governments in the states with time, the issue of unemployment will not be mentioned in Nigeria again.
(8)   Leadership Training and Youths’ Participation in Partisan Politics.
        Both the federal and state governments should map out leadership training programmes for the country’s teeming graduates where they will be given what I may call Practical Ethical Re-Orientation”. There is no gain saying the fact that a good number of people enter into politics because of their self-seeking, self-materialism and aggrandisement.
        The fact that a good number of such politics and political office holders end it up in the prisons courtesy of the EFCC is a sure indicator that the country’s political terrain is inundated with persons with unbridled and very high criminal propensities, hence the mad race to political positions has become a “do or die affair”.
        The government should divest money from partisan politics and lay greater emphasis on self-less service to the nation. This is the reason why an up-to-date leadership training should be given to the youths to enable them, as future leaders, to correct the ills of their past leaders and create a brighter future for our children yet unborn.
        If this is done, the nation’s graduate youths will undoubtedly find their places in the contemporary Nigerian politics as a means of serving their fellow country men and women.


My Advice to the Nigerian Graduate youths.
        The time when your future is dependent on what the state would offer you is completely over. Your future now depends on what you want to make it. Destiny is a matter of choice and not a matter of chance. In other words, your destiny now lies in your hands. Education is an indispensable tool that helps an individual recognise and develop his potentials to his own advantage. Anybody who is of the opinion that education is useless because of the failure of the state in offering employment to the graduate youths should better try ignorance. It is easier to rehabilitate an educated fellow than a stark illiterate. With your education and enlightenment, you now know where to go and how to get there. You can now begin to make contacts with friends within and without with a view to fixing yourself somewhere after your gradation. Besides, you are in a better position to look inwards, for there still some virgin areas in our economic and social life that are yet to be exploited. If it is possible, try to add a small skill to your certificate for that will enhance your chances of being employed either by yourself or by somebody else.
Conclusion
I believe that with this awareness being created, we are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. The major problem facing the Nigerian youths as well as various governments, remains mass unemployment of our graduate youths. It is unemployment that breeds poverty and poverty breeds discontentment, which is the sole source of all acts of terrorism, intimidation and militancy as witnessed in Nigeria today. The moment this hydra-headed problem of the youths is solved, all the attendant evils that are associated with unemployment will become stories of the past. The various governments and all well-meaning Nigerians including Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) should direct their attentions and resources to solving these problems instead of diagnosing the symptoms of the disease. Once this is done, the future of the Nigerian youths must be adequately guaranteed and their restiveness will come to a halt.
I wish you a purposeful gathering and at the same time extending my felicitations and that of the Bride of Christ Ministry World-Wide to all of you for giving us this wonderful privilege to be part of this epoch making ceremony.
Remember, when you preserve your youth, you achieve your dreams. Therefore, say no to all acts of violence and militancy. Fear and honour God, respect those that are in authority over you. Obey the laws of nature and you will prosper in all your ways.
May the Almighty God brighten the future of the Nigerian youths is my prayer to all of you. Thank you.