Redeeming the north through youth empowerment

By Tahir Sheriff

innocent girlsThe feelings of enforced idleness of youths who are able and willing to work but cannot find jobs, or are largely not suitable has direct links to extreme side effects due to its human costs in deprivation and a feeling of rejection and personal failure. This feeling well manipulated by interest seeking groups often surface in violence as seen in elections and the ongoing insurgency.  This is one of the vital observations of the Arewa Transformation and Empowerment Initiative, a group which identified the lapses of human capital development in northern Nigerian region, and has taken the lead in setting up of several programmes to empower these youths.

One of such recent programmes is the Arewa Youth Empowerment Programme, which has been slated to kick off on the 18th of April 2013. The programme comes in the midst of complex problems arising from increasing levels of unemployment and dissatisfaction in the northern region, a case which has been tied to the creation and growth of rebel militia that have obstructed active governance in the region as well as leading to the loss of lives.

However the absence of qualitative vocational and social education which has impeded developments in the northern region is not selectively an absence of graduates or necessary qualifications. There is a huge gap between what is learned in schools and what is obtainable in these societies and the closure of this gap can be aided by an increase in job creation skills that enable an individual to group development.

The Arewa Youth Empowerment Programme is designed to build the capacity of teaming youths in northern Nigeria through the provision of context specific capacity building and skills development training programmes that will empower them to be self employed in ventures that are viable within their localities hence, stimulating the local economy.

Several attempts have been made before to curb the human capital deficiency disparity; however approaches used such as raising allocation for education in this regions or calling in foreign experts to analyze and produce solutions made little or no impact. These failed largely because in the first instance the problem as pointed out by budget allocation statistics is not an allocation problem and bringing an international expert to solve a local problem is already a problem in itself.

Pain is Universal.The Arewa Transformation and Empowerment Initiative have designed the Arewa Youth Empowerment Programme, as an approach to this problem built into the fabric of the northern social system which first identifies hidden economic advantages and then taps into them by capacity building along these economic advantages.

Some countries such as Saudi Arabia tried to solve such problems by subcontracting the much needed developments to other more advanced countries and they have begun to notice drastic drops in the local human capital quotient. The Arewa Youth Empowerment Programme cuts through these problems by developing on a system known as ‘Content Specific Skill Acquisition whereby interested youths with requisite competence will be trained in skills that can be of use in the region. Skills in Industrial Cluster Model, Textile, Farming, Tractor Technicians, Drivers, Farm Management, Welding and Fabrication, Handcraft and a host of others necessary skills.

In the wake of increased cases of sectarian and religious violence and the gullibility of northern youths to joining armed militia, do you think youth empowerment will reduce poverty in the North thereby reducing the recruitment of foot-soldiers to terrorist cells? If you believe that it will, then be a part of the programme by supporting the initiative and its promoters on its launching 18th April 2013 at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua centre Abuja.

It must also be pointed out, that it is not enough to have people empowered with skills, and left without the avenue to use those skills to contribute positively and generate advantages for themselves. Thus  beyond this programme, there must also be support for the Arewa Transformation and Empowerment Initiative on a continuous basis to guarantee that human development becomes a tradition if the region is to be really empowered.

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