Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Is Nigeria too strong? Are Nigerians too resilient?

Eze's poem:

"I Fear for my country
That we've learnt to be strong (too strong)
To feel and just to move on
Too resilient to cry, to arise and make amends
I fear for my people
We've grown too strong to fight our demons."

Excerpts from 'dearth of a country' by Emelogu Danladi Eze

Image via Google and Twitter

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lagos, The African Way of Civilisation By Ren Wan

[MING]: After two years in and out of the third largest city in the world, Rem Koolhaas called the Nigerian wen something ‘at the forefront of a globalising modernity’: “Lagos is not catching up with us. Rather, we may be catching up with Lagos.” Constantly on its insane evolution hoping to strike off the notorious reputation as one of the least liveable city, Lagos itself is a soiled, earthly dream chaser; and Ren Wan witnessed from it Civilisation in the African Way.

I regretted right at the moment as I got the visa after a gasping interrogation at the embassy. Pole-apart from what I had expected, that embassy visits were nothing more than form-filling and queues, this time to the Nigerian one ironically offered more. I got stone-cold questions, hostile attitudes, though I had every (bizarre) required documents stated on the embassy website, including an “invitation letter” signed by my Nigerian contact.

The tiny glass at the counter divided me and the well- attired gentleman with the resemblance of Nelson Mandela, who threw to me what an FBI officer would smear over a drug dealer’s face. From my actual identity to my purpose of visit to my ‘potential conspiracy’… every razor sharp question cracked from his black lips made me feel like a prisoner without cuffs, or a smuggler who tried to get into the American border. “Good People. Great Country” This tagline on a poster at the door came into my sight as a wry joke.

“You will see why he has that attitude.” said a British- Indian merchant who was there to collect his visa, because few Chinese girls go to the country alone who aren’t going to meet her Nigerian lover. It was going to be his third visit to Lagos this year. I revealed the purpose of my visit, as a desperate attempt to relieve my pre-travel paranoia. “Good luck, and it is indeed a place for a good story.” The statement was supported by another guy present, a native Nigerian who came to extend his visa in Hong Kong. He was a young black guy in his late twenties, who happily showed me a picture of his Chinese wife and his kids. Lagos is a metropolis, I felt pride between his words, everyone in Nigeria wants to be in the past two years. And his statement was not without supporters.

As the most populous city in Nigeria, Lagos was indeed a name often seen on international press in the recent years. “A global city” was a united answer I had heard. It was a time right after the bomb attack in Abuja, people said the capital was no comparison to this “merely less-developed” megacity. They called it an economic centre of the largest country in West Africa, a cultural hub with great lifestyle despite the notorious title as the world’s third least liveable city by the Economist Intelligence Unit. It is the future
Hong Kong of Africa, Onno Ruhl, country head for the World Bank said to TIME last year. But I did not see any similarities (or potential ones) with my homeland. I saw a bizarre sovereignty of African civilisation.

Africa takes centre stage

It was scientifically proven that humankind evolved from black skin; which means black is the origin to all skin colours the civilised world represents to date. That means the black clan gave birth to all fruits civilisation has given us – from the art of fine dining to state-of- the-art technologies. While we from this part of the world are blessed with surplus of materials far beyond satisfaction of our basic necessity, this vast piece of land was once victimised under absurd Slavism, and is still the last runner on the racecourse of civilisation. But like a famous African proverb said, until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story; the face of Africa only has a western narrative.

At a seminar stage, Andrew Mwenda, a Ugandan journalist, once called for a new look at Africa. “Africa has immense opportunities that never navigate through the web of despair and helplessness that the Western media largely presents to its audience,” he said with determination. “As a consequence, the Western view of Africa’s economic dilemma is framed wrongly. The wrong framing is a product of thinking that Africa is a place of despair.” Truism stays with him. G.W. Fredrich Hegel, 18th century German philosopher, once declared with ignorant arrogance that Africa was not part of world history because the black had no individuality. Google stories on African and one will find besides wild getaways the missing of basic sanitation infrastructures, bony hands begging for succor, Somali pirates, kidnaps of Westerners, brutal and helpless scenes from Congo and Blood Diamond.

But as the continent, blessed with abundant natural resources and enviable landscapes, slowly gets rid of the third world status – only 33 remain the least developed category to date; we have seen on the global stage inspirers and change-makers from the ‘wild land’. In 2007, TED organised an Africa-themed event with insightful talks by such significant figures as William Kamkwamba, who invented a windmill to generate electricity for his poor community at the age of 14. Seyi Oyseola built a solar-powered mobile hospital. Last year, we applauded to three African Nobel laureates. In an Africa-themed exhibition at Kiasma in Finland, photographer Baudouin Mouanda tastefully captured African chic. This part of the world actually rocks.

Global city in a great country?Autumn heat was still steaming the city airport. Black gentlemen, looking spick and span in his suits, effortlessly made his way through the crowd of puzzled foreign visitors into a rusty yellow cab and disappeared into the vast megacity. Welcome to Lagos, the Centre of Excellence – the stately neon light box was losing its glow to the everyday blackouts. Nothing but the word ‘chaos’ was valid.
Those close to the authority fashioned diplomatic affability to just-landed Chinese investors, humbled themselves to push their guests’ luggage through the Customs counters, and happily received monetary rewards from the yellow hands. By exchanging merely basic hellos and all that jazz, policemen outside the airport helped your vehicle stop for a few bucks in return.“This is the way how things work here,” William Lui, a food factory owner from Hong Kong, whom I luckily ran into at the airport, said as he settled me in his car. Lui after that offered me his transportation throughout my stay, because cab drivers might take ‘white people’ – it was a black or white world, no yellow – to shaded alleys and rob them. Not only ‘white people’, my local photographer assured me. He wouldn’t ask for directions at night as well. Besides the local market cramped with cars and pedestrians, shops and restaurants had armed guards stationed at the gate. There was no such thing as ‘window shopping’ and ‘menu checking’. Furious traffic jam happened every morning and evening and it is almost a daily routine to be stuck in the middle of the chaos of roads and have your itinerary naturally cancelled. One night I was forced to cancel my dinner appointment because I stayed on the roads for four hours. What Fela Kuti, Nigeria’s national pride and music mogul from Lagos, once sang in ‘Go Slow’ in 1972 – Lorry dey for your front // Tipa dey for your back // Motorcycle dey for your left o // Taxi-moto dey for your right // Helicopter dey fly fly for your top o – is still the best depiction of its everyday cityscape.

More. One step on Bar Beach, the city’s beautiful white sand public beach, and you would be asked to pay, whilst many others set their own stalls on sand as bars and restaurants. The “magnificent architectural masterpiece” Lagosians prided themselves on, is the National Theatre with a musty odour. The city’s biggest shopping mall is the size of our community centre. Hawker stalls creeping along roads did not really expect customers. Recent news in Daily Times Nigeria mentioned a study that revealed 22% of Lagos drivers tested positive to drugs like cocaine and marijuana. And this is what they called a great country and a global city.

Lagosians, souls of the city

Temitayo, a young Nigerian writer in her mid- twenties, showed me her article about her homeland, ‘The Lagos Devil, she called it. It reminds me of a woman in labour, groaning and screaming curses at her husband and the gods that made the seed fertile. She wrote with paradoxical affection. Love, anxiety, anger, and fear all rolled in one ball, I feel for Lagos, but, unlike the pregnant woman who delivers a child; I don’t know what Lagos will bring forth!

With a majority of the cityscape barred behind guarded high walls, roads became the only mirror of the city, its people – and they call themselves Lagosians – its only soul. Despite the broken roads, incomplete infrastructures, and the everyday blackouts, Lagos nurtures the most notable spirits humanity would celebrate. Enthusiasm has its best glow under the silver sky of the fuel-clogged city. Without much left by their ancestors, a local journalist friend Jennifer Ehidiamen told me, Lagos is up to the making of the young generations. “Those before you must have worked really hard to make sure your generation enjoy a good country. That is what most Nigerians are doing,” she said. “Most young Nigerians are working hard and dreaming more, so that the next generation will not go through the same hardship. So it is like a seed one generation sow for the next to reap and nurture for posterity. If old generations in Nigeria had kept this in perspective, we would have been spoilt too.”

Positivity does rule this place. The ‘World’s Happiest Place’ sign soaring at the airport, as a Guardian journalist once recalled, may have its point. An international survey revealed that Nigeria’s positivity index was 70, whilst UK had a tragic -44.

Will Anderson, who did a documentary on Lagos, said Lagosians never see themselves as victims; they are tireless aspirers. Hawkers wandering around the streets may not have good business, but they were rewarded with laughter and chats with neighbours. A young gentleman who arranged my interview with a governor, owned an I.T company, while he was actively developing the emerging movie scene of Nigeria. We call it Nollywood, he said and immediately jumped to ask about the popularity of websites like YouTube in China. I marvelled at his packed schedule and the speed of his tapping on his Blackberry. “Because the city has high unemployment and bad traffic, going freelance is a mainstream,” he said. “You find entrepreneur on every street.”

Children whose family could not afford their education were satisfied with fierce football games on abandoned space with bare feet. Learning that I was from Asia, one kid came to me and asked with excitement how much more advanced China is than Nigeria. My answer might be a disappointment, yet he said with pride: we are almost there.While signs of a developed place in our world are about infrastructures, destination landmarks and civil services; the way Lagos defines civilisation is hedonism and naively bold visions. Like what Nigerian scholar Michael Eucheruo wrote in his book Victorian Lagos, this is an out-and-out international city like Amsterdam and Paris. Albeit the shortage of infrastructure, Lagos is thriving as a cultural and economic hub in West Africa. The tireless operation of the oil mine right next to the city’s main bridge strikes as a hope for future. Like Rem Koolhaas said in 2005 in Lagos Wide and Close, this place does not reflect despair, it is in fact where the civilisation heads to – the aspiration to build a better place.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Slum2School Volunteer Shares Experience

Volunteerism and philanthropy is one of the 21st century global strategies to solve problems around the United Nations Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals. At a time when the quest for youth development and the need for leadership is at its peak, being a volunteer for developmental projects provide the unique learning experience and grooming ground for personal growth and making social impact. It is my chief recommendation for students’ co-curricular activities as well as a platform for professionals to position themselves as socially responsible individuals. From my experience, volunteering was the biggest step I took to getting closer to my personal aspirations in life, and it has been the most fulfilling and rewarding impact and contribution I have made in my society.

I indicated interest in being a Slum2School Volunteer in 2012 after Otto Orondaam’s speech about the Founding and future of the NGO at Lagos NYSC Passing out ceremony. It was a unique opportunity to direct my energy and time towards such a developmental and youth driven initiative. S2S was just a few months old at the time, but I had no doubt about her prospect for growth and impact, based on all volunteers’ commitment.

Conspicuously, since that period, Slum-to-School Africa has provided educational scholarships for over 650 underprivileged children and renovated two rural schools. We have also organized over 20 community programmes.

My first task was to commit my time like every other volunteer even though we received no monetary reward. Our passion did and still supersedes the thirst for compensation for all the time we spend. This was for me the true meaning of volunteering - following through a course until the end, without any iota of doubt that time and energy spent is helping to positively impact other people’s lives. A cause larger than oneself.

I volunteered with the primary aim of just helping and contributing to an urgent cause, unknown to me at the time, the benefits that came with being a volunteer. I was an undergraduate struggling with the scarcity of time and commitment to my grades; it was very tempting to attribute volunteering to a waste of time. The challenges however brought along so many learning opportunities I would perhaps never have gained otherwise. Working under pressure to meet deadlines and time management was a skill I am grateful to have acquired through volunteering. A skill applicable to my career till date, which I believe is same for most volunteers. We had to be spontaneous, think on our feet, always finding ways to meet up with impromptu meetings and tasks.

Volunteering for Slum2School improved my problem solving skills. I was delighted to join the crop of young leaders who rather than complain, found ways to make things work. This made me become more compassionate and more optimistic than ever before, even though the intensity of the problems we face were and are still very glaring to us.

My most memorable volunteer experience in August 2013 also was a test of my resolve. Being one of the 17 volunteers that travelled on water for about two hours to get to a rural community on the outskirts of Lagos and walking in swamps for another 45 minutes to get to another community, hitherto, was a challenge I would have deemed unfit to be part of. The drive and passion to provide educational opportunities to remote areas superseded our own personal comforts. I built skills around organizing, logistics, coordinating and in fact learning to live and work with different people in a condition that really demanded the highest level of people skills.

As a member of the sales team for Slum2School, selling the idea of the project improved my sales and networking skills. From a pool of 1,300 applicants from 190 countries, I was one of the 40 youths selected to present various developmental projects they were working on. This was a unique global opportunity and it was highly fulfilling that all our volunteer works were being recognized and appreciated globally. The One Young World Summit in South Africa was attended by global leaders like Kofi Annan, Winnie Mandela, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and many others. It was an amazing feeling to realise that amongst the countless projects in 190 countries, Slum 2 School was recognised to be one of the best.

Africa CEO of Standard Chartered Bank was impressed by my speech and our work at S2S. She invited me to share our ideas with a dozen global CEOs, resulting to a donation and increasing our NGOs monetary value. I also got the unique opportunity to meet Aliko Dangote, the richest and most influential black, through the contacts I made on this platform.

Volunteering for Slum 2 School therefore gave me the unique opportunity to be a global advocate for education. An achievement that may not come around if one remained in their comfort zones. Recruiters and various institutions are becoming more attracted to youths who have volunteered and made a lot of positive impacts around the world. With rising global challenges, problems and opportunities, the importance and necessity of volunteerism to make social impact can never be overemphasised. It is indeed an antidote to many global problems such as lack of access to education which Slum 2 School volunteers have been tenaciously working to provide across board. I believe very strongly that anyone seeking to be part of this global change makers has definitely chosen to make one of the toughest and best choices.

Best wishes to every present and potential young leader.


Admin's note: Will you like to volunteer with Slum2School? Then visit: for more information!

Recommended Reading: Half a Loaf & a Bakery: Learning by Doing Before Graduation- FREE DOWNLOAD-

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Video: Life stories of out-of-school adolescent girls in Nigeria’s poor communities

‎"Journalism is a powerful tool that empowers individuals, builds stronger local communities and elevates global awareness."

Action Health Incorporated (@actionhealthinc) has released three short films in the ‘Keeping The Promise Series’-- ‘Girls Are Us’, ‘Slipping Through the Crack’ and ‘Make Every Girl Count’- that project the true life stories of out-of-school adolescent girls in Nigeria’s poor communities.

The films are based on findings of the AHI study to explore and document the realities, needs and concerns of out-of-school adolescent girls in Lagos slums.

You can watch the films by following these hyperlinks on YouTube:

Girls Are Us:

Slipping Through The Crack:

Make Every Girl Count:


Don't miss another update from AHI! 
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Nigerians on Lagos Island Celebrate the Eyo Festival

My article on Global Press Institute

Nigerians on Lagos Island in southwestern Nigeria celebrated the Eyo Festival at the end of November. Originally known as Adimu Orisha play, the festival is unique to the island and is a tradition of the Yoruba ethnic group. It can be organized to mark various occasions but was traditionally used as a final burial rite after the death of a chief.
In recent years, the festival has honored the late Yesufu Abiodun Oniru, who was the chief of Lagos from 1934 to 1984. He contributed to the development of Lagos state and fought many battles to liberate the indigenous people of the Lagos colony from Great Britain.

The climax of the festival was the public parade on Nov. 26. Participants dressed up as Eyos, or masquerades, wearing white clothing. Each Eyo group wore a hat of a distinct color to symbolize the various ancestries of the island.

Streets were closed off, and everyone had to walk barefoot as a sign of respect. The parade terminated in Tafawa Balewa Square, where people from all over Lagos gathered to watch the festival.

Click here to view Photos on Google+ or Flickr

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Imagine Nigeria...

"Imagine a country where the Hausa, Ibo,
Yoruba, Isoko, Itsekiri, Nupe and all Nigerians
See themselves as Nigerian first before their tribe."

Imagine Nigeria...

By Arukaino Umukoro

Imagine those American kids on Youtube
Really meant it when they sang
'I want to be a Nigerian so freaking bad'
Cos Bruno Mars now lives in Yola.

Imagine those bomb blasts were actually scenes from a Nollywood set.
Imagine Nollywood movies winning Oscars every other year.
Imagine Super Eagles winning the World Cup.
Imagine Nigeria finishing among the top five
On the Olympics medals table.

Imagine food baskets all over the country
Enough to feed 200 million people
Yet have enough left for export.

Imagine the UN asking Third World countries
To learn from the rapid 'development of the West;
Only this time, the 'West'
Actually means South-West Nigeria.
A global model for socio-economic development.

Imagine the rise of groundnut pyramids
Like sphinx in the Northern deserts.
Imagine those cattle
On a thousand Northern hills & valleys,
Whose dairy products are sold in Europe.
Imagine 'almajiri' is an ancient word.
Imagine Harvard in Jigawa
And MIT in Kebbi.
Imagine that the best resorts
In Africa are in the Niger Delta
Imagine that those children could
Actually swim in clean waters flowing from the creeks.
Imagine Hawaii in Akwa Ibom or Bayelsa
Imagine Disneyland in Warri.
Imagine those architectural masterpieces.
Imagine a boat cruise in the Niger Delta.

Imagine those exotic landscapes in the South.
Imagine the lush vegetation and fertile lands,
Beautiful landscapes
And techies in West Africa's first Silicon Valley in the East.
Imagine an original car model called Utomibile. Maybe Aba-car or Zik-ari,
Designed & manufactured in Aba
But competing with others made in Europe & Asia.
Imagine Japanese CEOs driving made-in-Nigeria cars.

Imagine one Naira to a dollar.
Imagine nine functional refineries.
Imagine nuclear power plants in Ajaokuta.
Imagine 24 hour electricity in every city or village
Without the interruption of generators
Bleating like stray goats in the marketplace. 
Imagine you telling your children PHCN stories and everyone laughing about it,
Like they were fairy tales or Alice in Wonderland.

Imagine the first Nigerian astronaut
Taking off from Abuja Space Agency.
Imagine the Nigerian police truly being your friends.
Imagine a well-equipped police force
Without the everyday drama of corruption.
Imagine thirty seven world class international airports.
Imagine Justin Bieber & Selena Gomez
Travelling to Nigeria on Nigeria Airways.

Yes, 'Nigeria' Airways.
Imagine Sasha & Malia Obama
Begging for a Nigerian vacation.
Imagine the beauty of traffic at night.
And the joy of inter-state road trips.
Imagine a country bonded by its diverse cultures,
Cemented with the right values system.

Imagine a country where the Hausa, Ibo,
Yoruba, Isoko, Itsekiri, Nupe and all Nigerians
See themselves as Nigerian first before their tribe.
Imagine Tuwo sinkafa, amala, and banga,
On the regular menu list in Waldorf Astoria.
Imagine that the 350 ethnic groups
Understand their differences.

Imagine that the people,
Rather than fight,
Harness her diversity into strength.
Imagine a truly indivisible country.
Imagine how great Nigeria would be
If every tribe & group unite as one.

Imagine 180 million beautiful people
In a beautiful country,
One nation under God,
Living together,
For the love of country & humanity.

Imagine a country with focused,
Selfless leaders. And strong institutions.
Imagine a country where Boko Haram,
Kidnapping, Niger Delta militancy et al
Would be forgotten tales by moonlight
When we sit under the shades of history,
Sipping the palmwine of true nationhood.

Imagine a country where the rule of law prevails.
Imagine a country where there is dignity in labour.
Imagine a country where justice
Is a meal both the rich & poor can afford.

Imagine your imagination running wild.
Like truly seeing Eko Atlantic City
On Victoria Island Beach,
Imagine Nigeria's own Manhattan.

Imagine Ajegunle, Mushin and Agege
With VGC architecture, infrastructure and design.
Imagine you living the Nigerian dream.
Imagine 'that' is possible.

Forget Nigeria today.
Imagine the new Nigeria tomorrow.
Imagine that beautiful country

But don't stop there.
Together, we can make it better!
God bless Nigeria.

© Arukaino Umukoro.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Minister of Youth Development to host a Town Hall meeting with Nigerian youth

I recently heard that the Minister of Youth Development will be hosting a Town Hall meeting with Nigerian youth online :) Please participate and get your voice heard! Endeavor to share the outcome of the meeting with offline friends! :-)

Date:  Thursday, September 8th 2011

Time: 3.00 - 5.00 p.m.

Chief host: The Minister for Youth dvelopment, Alhaji Bolaji Abdullahi.

Twitter handle


The document below is the Ministry's strategic plan in dealing with issues affecting young people in the country. This will form the basis of the discussions at the townhall. Kindly read, review and tell your friends about it! Source: AfterSchoolPrep

Nigerian Youth: Key Interventions Proposed by the Ministry of Youth Development


Those between 18 and 35 constitute almost 50% of the Nigerian population (NPC 2006). Given its size, energy, passion and creativity, this demographic group should be a critical resource for economic growth, sustainable development, and national transformation in Nigeria. At present, it is not. This is because the potential contributions of our young population is compromised by a host of challenges, including lack of jobs, limited marketable skills, low entrepreneurial bias, limited access to credit, high vulnerability to poverty, limited level of inclusion, and low value orientation etc.

Our present economic growth rate could mask the extent of youth deprivation in the country. Rather than be taken in by seemingly robust growth rates, we should learn, proactively, from the recent experience in North Africa and the Middle East. And now, the United Kingdom. Tunisia, for example, had a steady growth rate of about 9%. But despite this healthy outlook, it was the first to erupt when the simmering anger of its deprived and frustrated youth eventually boiled to the surface.

While many countries are ageing, we are blessed with abundant youth population, and it has been projected that by 2030 our most important resource will be our youth, not oil (British Council 2010). But our youth bulge could turn out to be either a demographic dividend or a demographic disaster. It is important therefore that we do more to harness the potentials of our youth, put in place policies and programmes to unlock the binding constraints on their path, and scale up investment to turn this huge demographic force to a force for good. We shouldn’t do this just because we love our youth. On the contrary, we should do it because it makes economic, social, political, and security sense.

Where We Are
The Federal Government has a plethora of initiatives and investments aimed at addressing the youth challenge in the country. But our analysis reveals that our youth population is underserved for the following reasons:

Lopsidedness: About 90% of the budget of the Federal Ministry of Youth Development and its two parastatals goes to NYSC alone (N43bn out of N49bn in 2011 budget). This is not to say that the budget of NYSC is too much, but that almost all our resources for youth development go to one year in the life of those lucky to be graduates of universities and polytechnics. 

Limited Coverage: As presently focused, most of the activities of the Ministry serve what can be categorized as the elite youth: university graduates and politically-active youth and their organizations. This means that a majority of our youth are outside the scope of our interventions. However, it is this category of missing and underserved youththat portends the most danger to the country in terms of crime, restiveness, political thuggery and religious extremism. 

Misalignment:The major challenge facing our youth today is lack of jobs and skills. Unfortunately, our major investments in youth development do not tackle this major challenge. The NYSC, the Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre and the mainline Ministry do little to prepare the youth for the job market or to expand opportunities available to them. Also, there is misalignment between the available training programmes and the needs of the industry.

Limited Coordination: Because of the cross-cutting nature of youth development, responsibilities are dispersed in different sectors. This is to ensure that the youth challenge is tackled in a holistic and comprehensive manner. However, due to lack of adequate coordination, most youth programmesdo not serve their intended target or the concerns of the youth get crowded out in the mix.

Tokenism: A lot is being done to reduce general unemployment, but much more could be done to directly tackle the specific obstacles to youth employment. Our young people could not access the available job opportunities because they are not skilled, do not have experience, and do not have collateral for credit. Most of the existing skills training programmes are either below market standards or too token; and the financial supports/loans offered for entrepreneurship are too paltry to make any meaningful impact. Also, states and LGAs (where most of our youth live) could do much more than they are doing at present.

Little Engagement: Little is being done to involve the youth in the design and implementation of the programmes directed at them, so most of these youth-targeted interventions fail because they do not reflect the needs of their intended beneficiaries. Beyond opportunistic and counter-productive engagement at election periods, little effort is made to involve the youth in the larger decision-making process or give them stake in the society.

Strategic Priorities & Key Interventions
Given our mandate, the key challenges of our clients, and the need for us to play a key role in the Transformation Agenda, the Ministry of Youth Development after its recent retreat decided to focus on the following five strategic priorities:

Facilitate targeted skills acquisition, enterprise development and credit access for the youth;
Reform/reposition key institutionsof the Ministry to improve service and value to youth and country;
Mobilize, empower, and re-orientate the youth;
Improve monitoring and coordination of different youth programmes across sectors/tiers;
Enhance advocacy and communication to make youth issues an urgent national priority.

Arising from the above, some of the key interventions being proposed are as follows:

1.     Youth Employment Project
We propose to initiate a Youth Employment Project, which is a short-term, quick-impact intervention that will provide skills and entrepreneurial trainings, job placements, business development services and concessionary credit to our youth. This project is not a replacement for the NDE and other such initiatives, as it will be different in terms of its specificity to the youth, and its scale, execution mode and quality. The Project aims to reach 500, 000 youth per year (NDE’s is for 36,000 Nigerians) and will be undertaken mostly through credible intermediaries in private and public sectors and civil society. It is expected that YEP will become part of the Youth Development Fund once the enabling law is passed.

2.     Reform of the NYSC
The NYSC is the singular most important investment in youth development in the country today. But the return on investment to the country and the corps members has been low. While security of corps members has been a major concern lately, it is clear that NYSC is long due for a holistic review that will align the scheme with challenges of the moment. We therefore propose to go beyond the cosmetic reforms of the past and plan to reposition the NYSC to serve as a boot-camp/finishing school for our graduates and to provide real service to the country in infrastructure, farming, and teaching etc. As a starting point, we want to propose the setting up of a Presidential Committee on the Review of the NYSC.

3.     “Drive the Future Nigeria” Campaign
Many of our youth have become cynical, disoriented, dysfunctional and alienated. We plan to re-engage our youth and increase their self-belief, agency and voice by initiating an IT-led but multimedia and multi-lingual campaign to put them in the driver’s seat of their future. Led by Youth Champions, this campaign will also be used to mobilize the youth, make them part of the decision-making process and arm them with positive values of citizenship, entrepreneurship, work ethic and leadership. It will be run in partnership with civil society and the private sector, and will serve as a creative vehicle for engaging and empowering the youth.

4.   Improving Data for Planning & Advocacy
The youth population is not a homogenous group, and we cannot serve them well if we continue to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. We therefore plan to improve our understanding of our clients by undertaking a number of studies, including: a disaggregated study of the youth population to be able to adequately segment the various sub-groups in terms of location, level of education/skills, size, disposition, challenges etc.; a scoping study of the various interventions by different actors across sectors and tiers for us to have a comprehensive view of the landscape and ensure proper coordination and impact; a database of the unemployed youth in the country; and refocusing of the Youth Development Index, which was first and last published in 2008, to serve as a tool for tracking and advocacy.

5.     Repositioning the Ministry
We plan to reposition the Ministry because we need to redefine our role as a facilitator/coordinator, rather than as a service provider. This will entail not just a re-orientation and restructuring but the development of appropriate capacities for policy-making and research, for coordination and partnership, and for advocacy and communication. The Ministry needs to be fit-for- purpose and be positioned to serve the youth—its client—and the country better. This will entail institutional review and re-alignmeant.

Source: Federal Ministry of Youth Development