Tinubu had while speaking at a colloquium to celebrate his 69th birthday on Monday called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to authorise the immediate recruitment of up to 50 million young Nigerians into the Nigerian Army to tackle the Boko Haram and criminal bandits ravaging the country.
He argued that such an action would overwhelm the ragtag groups of insurgents and bandits terrorising the country across multiple flanks.
He was quoted as saying, “We are under-policed and we are competing with armed robbers and bandits to recruit from the youths who are unemployed —33 per cent unemployed?
“Recruit 50 million youths into the army, take away from their (the bandits’) recruitment source.
“What they will eat? Cassava, corn, yam in the afternoon… it is grown here. You create demand and consumption for over five million army of boot camps.”
The comment raised eyebrows among Nigerians who wondered how almost one in ever four citizens could be drafted into the army with the country’s population of about 205 million.
But in a statement issued by his media office on Tuesday, Tinubu said he gave the figure in error and only meant to say 50,000 youths.
The statement read, “Asiwaju seeks the expansion of security personnel by 50,000 for the armed forces, not the 50 million that was mentioned in error.
“It was an accidental verbal mistake of which we all commit from time to time, especially when reciting a series of large numerical figures. He did not mean 50 million, which is almost a quarter of our total population.
“The crucial matter is that Asiwaju rightly observed that such strong recruitment would serve the twin-purpose of helping to tackle unemployment while at the same time enhancing the security of every Nigerian.
“Please forgive any confusion due to this innocent error. The most vital thing is that he set forth a wise and timely approach that would help us face two of today’s stiffest challenges.”
The statement also quoted the former governor of Lagos as canvassing for the recruitment of five million youths in all aspects of nation-building, ranging from infrastructural development to agricultural modernisation.
“He believes that the more job opportunities are presented to our youth the less some of them will be tempted into illegal and dangerous activities,” it added.
“As part of this overall approach, he believes that eligible youth should be recruited into the armed forces, police and other security agencies to augment the functional capacity of our security apparatus thus ensuring the better security and safety of our people.”
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