By Jude Atupulazi
The-Vice Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2019 general elections, Mr. Peter Obi, has identified the neglect of Nigerian youths, through non-investment in education and job creation, as a serious threat to Nigeria’s security and economic development.
Obi, who was the Guest Speaker at the Annual Public Lecture of Foursquare Gospel Church, held in Lagos last Wednesday, blamed the widespread criminality and violence in the country on the high rate of poverty in Nigeria due to unemployment. He also stated that the separatist agitations in some parts of the country were driven by youths who had lost hope in their country.
Obi lamented that Nigeria was performing far below its peers in all human development indices (HDI), which, he said, were statistical measures of education, life expectancy and per capita income.
He pointed out that in the year 2000, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Ghana, and Morocco that were all in Low ranking in HDI had all moved to Medium, and High in the case of Vietnam and Indonesia, while Nigeria was still in Low HDI, with the situation worsening.
According to him: ‘In education, Nigeria with the highest number of out-of-school children of about 15 million and a literacy rate of 59%, is still below comparable nations like, India (75%), Vietnam (94.5%), Bangladesh (74%), Indonesia (94%), Ghana (76%), and Morocco (74%).
‘In health, the global average of life expectancy is 75 years. In Nigeria, however, it is 55 years, which is 20 years less than the global average.
‘Nigeria also has the highest number of poor people, with about 50% of the population living in poverty and worsening at the rate of 6 people dropping into poverty every minute. We have more people living in extreme poverty than the two biggest nations – China and India – combined,’ Obi explained.
He posited that committed investment in education and articulated fiscal and monetary support to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises would set Nigeria’s economy on the path of growth and development.
‘Economic growth and development are the greatest positive contributors to national security. Tackling the deficiencies of under-employment and unemployment is imperative for economic growth; the opposite is the unavoidable threat to national security, which is what we have today,’ he said.
Obi urged the Church to continue to partner with the government for societal development and called on youths to be more involved in the issue of governance, noting that it directly impacted on their future.