The Boko Haram insurgence in Nigeria has raised so many questions as to how sincere the Nigerian government have been in the quest to make the lives of the citizens better. One of such questions is how sincere are the efforts of government and it agencies to the issue of youth empowerment.
When in February 2013, the federal capital administration conceived and built a youth development centre in Nyanya at the cost of N650 million; most Nigerians welcomed the development despite the ridiculous cost of putting up the centre. It was greeted with open arms especially by the media. One year after it was commissioned, the story is different. Let me take us through some of the ways in which media houses reported the ‘ground breaking event’
“The FCT administration on Tuesday commissioned a multi-purpose Youth Support Centre built at a cost of 650million naira to provide skills acquisition for unemployed youths and the handicaps living in the capital territory. The youth centre located in Nyanya, a Satellite town in the FCT was constructed and equipped with modern facilities like printing press, information communications technology, e-library hall, standard multiple workshop, 500 capacity theatre hall, 500 bed space hostel facility, furnished class rooms and international sport facilities.” (Strategic Index News)
“Dame Patience Jonathan remarked that Abuja which is the seat of Federal Government has continued to attract a large number of youths from all parts of the country in search of jobs; believing that this new Youth Centre will go a long way in training and providing skills culminating to a robust platform for youth empowerment, job creation and self-reliance”
(FCTA official website)
“The centre is expected to provide entrepreneurial skills and work-based competencies coupled with learning environment as well as provide programmes aimed at inculcating in youth, the values of hard work, dedication, ethical rectitude, justice and moral discipline among others.
Inaugurating the centre in Nyanya, Abuja; President Jonathan commended the Minister, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, for his purposeful leadership and ability to actualise the vision of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda.”
(Thisday Newspaper, 6 February, 2013)
Beautifully crafted captions and media mastery you will call the above extracts. That is what our media houses in Nigeria are good at, crafting good captions and breaking news. I could not agree less when the senate President David Mark said within the week that only the media could save Nigeria’s democracy. The Nigerian media especially the privately owned have become just money making avenues for their owners. They have gained mastery in breaking the news so there will be more audience thereby creating advert selling opportunities but not following the news. That is not really the core of our discussion. The core of our argument is this. The same youth development centre built with N650 millions of tax payer’s money is not under used 17 months after the commissioning. It is good as saying, it is abandoned. Instead of developing youths, the centre named after the country’s first lady is now home to birds and reptiles, the compound highly overgrown with weeds.
A visit to the centre shows only the supposed 500 seat multi-purpose hall is under use and that is because certain groups and individuals rent the hall to hold meetings, wedding receptions and other ceremonies. N650 million spent on a place for rats and reptiles to live when millions wallow in poverty? Nigeria must be such a generous and animal friendly society.
Though we were not able to confirm why the centre is abandoned as there was nobody on ground to answer our questions; not even the security who we were told by residents is the only person who comes around. Whatever the reason, it cannot be said to be genuine. The amount said to have been expended on putting up the centre and the elaborate commissioning only to be abandoned does not make sense. It puts the sincerity of the government on youth empowerment to question. Boko Haram cannot stop if we continue like this.
Is the federal government of Nigeria sincerely committed to stamping out violence? Be it political or any kind of violence at all? Even if the present insurgents are completely wiped out by the joint efforts of military, I fear that will not be the end of violence. My fear is this; another group of youths who will be a haram to the society as long as the government continue to play politics with sensitive issue as youth empowerment and development is imminent. Criminal minded people will not finish from any nation, the same way they will not stop using young people to carry out their ‘criminal acts’.
What is happening is like when a man buys a dog, names it after you, kills the dog and throws the carcass to the public garbage collection centre for everyone to see. That the centre is situated in the nation’s seat of power is one thing. That it is named after the first lady, the mother of the country is another. Our first lady cannot be an abandoned project. Sorry, I say so because it carries her name. To who it may concern, N650 Millions is too much to waste away.
Reading the words of Africa’s greatest leader that ever lived, Nelson Mandela when he said ““There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” I began to wonder if there is hope for the future.