Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has warned that the country is heading towards a precipice if urgent steps are not taken to address the challenges facing the country now as the current administration lacks the capacity to do so.
Atiku who fired this salvo in a statement he personally issued on Sunday said the government must realise that the unprecedented insecurity Nigeria is facing is the result of youth unemployment.
“In a situation where we are simultaneously the world headquarters for extreme poverty, the world capital for out of school children, and the nation with the highest unemployment rate on Earth, there is a very real and present danger that we might slip into the failed states index – God forbid!”
“I have never felt so bad at being proven right, as I am by the report from Bloomberg Business on Saturday, March 27, 2021 that Nigeria is to emerge as the nation with the highest unemployment rate on Earth, at just over 33%.
“We warned about this, but repeated warnings by myself and other patriots were scorned. And now this.
“We are at a precipice as a nation and the truth is that all stakeholders and elder statesmen have to speak up on time, while there is still a Nigeria to save. This government obviously lacks the capacity to address our current challenges, and we must help them, not because of the government, but because of our people.
The former PDP presidential aspirant said even with the paucity of funds, the Buhari led administration continue to ramp up government involvement in sectors that ought to be left to the private sector, with the latest being the ill-advised $1.5 billion so called rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery that has failed to turn a profit for years.
“As a nation, we are better off privatising our refineries and the NNPC through the time-tested LNG model in which the FG owns 49% equity and the private sector 51%. Recall that in 20 years ending 2020, the NLNG had delivered $18.3 billion dividends to the government irrespective of taxes and other benefit accruals to the country.
“First, Nigeria must move towards a single exchange rate to be determined by market forces. Secondly, the federal and state governments must reduce taxes, to make Nigeria more business friendly. And finally, financial and monetary institutions, like the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, must be free from the type of political influence that resulted in the prohibition of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
“My recommendation still stands, and stands even stronger now that we have crossed the rubicon in youth unemployment. If we can get the 13.5 million out of school Nigerian children into school, we will turn the corner in one generation. If we do not do this, then the floodgates of unemployment will be further opened next year, and in the years to come.
“I say this because the fastest way to bring down a world record unemployment rate is via incentivised education. An educated citizenry is more employable and more self-employable.
“We must then incorporate those youth who are above school age into a massive public works programme. There was talk of 774,000 Special Public Works jobs for the youth, which was to have started in January of 2021. This is a commendable step, but it must be done with proper agenda, rather than propaganda.
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