Economic growth not translating to improved well being – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday regretted that Nigeria’s economic growth has so far not translated into commensurate improved well being of the citizens, especially the youth.

Buhari made the observation in his address at the 2015 International Youth Day with the theme “Youth Civic Engagement,” held inside the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said the issue was of serious concern to him because the situation was forcing youths to be migrating from rural to urban areas or from Nigeria to other countries in search of better opportunities.

The President however promised that his administration would do everything within its capacity to better the lots of the youth.

He said, “It is an issue of serious concern that in Nigeria, so far, economic growth has not translated into commensurate and improved social outcomes, especially for our 60 million young people, who make up the majority of the population.

“Consequently, our youth migrate from rural to urban areas and from this country to other countries across borders, in search of greener pastures.

“I want to assure you that the new administration will place high premium on tackling challenges facing the youth sector.”

The President quoted the National Bureau of Statistics as reporting that unemployment remains a major concern in Nigeria, with rates rising from 6.4 percent in 2006 to 24.20 percent in the first quarter of 2015.

He said the unemployment rate among youth was more disturbing and considered to be over 50% due to the number of unemployed graduates and a huge number of youth who have had no chance to go to school.

Buhari said while educational attainment by Nigerian youth has increased significantly in the last decade, the relevance of curricula, quality of education and the fit with skills required by the job market still remains a challenge.

“Unsuitable qualifications limit our young peoples’ employment prospects and potential to contribute to national development. Our new administration is poised to providing an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive so as to ensure greater opportunities for jobs to be created for our young people.

“This, we believe, will assist in reducing criminal activities and terrorism. We have resolved to provide adequate infrastructure and strengthen our job creation institutions in order to increase opportunities for our young people.

“For Nigeria to sustainably create jobs and ensure growth, we will pay special attention to the growth of our Small and Medium Scale Enterprises. This can be achieved through boosting the intervention funds as guaranteed by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“In order to ensure that young people are healthy, skilled and educationally empowered, we will strengthen our academic and vocational training institutions as well as significantly improve our healthcare delivery system,” he added.

The President reiterated his position that he was committed to fulfilling all his campaign promises.

He said his party’s change slogan was not a mere political slogan but the beginning of a new era desired by the majority of Nigerians.

He said the youth must therefore be vanguards of the change and at the same time be the change that they wish to see.

While saying that sustainable development cannot take place in the absence of peace, the President urged Nigerians to work together towards the actualisation of sustainable peace and harmony to enable his administration build an enduring legacy.

Buhari paid glowing tribute to Nigerian youths who contributed to the success of the 2015 general elections, describing them as true heroes of democracy and architects of change.

“As we commemorate this year’s International Youth Day, let me use this moment to once again pay tribute to all the young people who played significant roles in making the 2015 General Elections a model for democratic governance in Africa.

“The role you played, individually and collectively, in not only being peaceful members of the electorate but also galvanising the social media platform and mobilising your peers to make the right choice.

“Your role contributed in no small measure to having a credible election in an atmosphere that was hitherto tense and volatile. The outcome is today being celebrated worldwide. Your role is greatly appreciated.

“I can assure you, my young compatriots, that you have written your names in history and you will be remembered as true heroes of our democracy and as architects of change,” the President said.

In her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth Development, Mrs. Rabi Jimeta, described the occasion as an initiative targeted at promoting the general wellbeing of the young people.
Jimeta said this year’s commemoration was unique because it was the first to be celebrated under the new President who she said had demonstrated great passion to tackle youth challenges, especially unemployment.
She said given the right opportunity and support, Nigerian youths were capable of putting the nation on thefast track to national development.
The Director-General of National Youth Service Corps, Brig.-Gen. Johnson Olawumi, in his goodwill message described the NYSC as the largest single platform in the country that promotes inclusiveness among youths.
Olawumi said corps members have left indelible marks in the socio-economic life of the country.
He recalled that since their participation in the electoral process since 2011, the nation’s elections have been receiving global commendation.
He said change cannot be complete without a change in the orientation of youths across the country.
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