Governors elected under the umbrella of All Progressives Congress (APC) today in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State identified unemployment as a major impediment to Nigeria’s quest for economic development and vowed to tackle the menace in their respective states in particular and the country as whole.
The governors, under the aegis of Progressive Governors’ Forum, made the declaration while speaking at the first Progressive Governance Lecture entitled “Unemployment and the Crisis of Governance in Nigeria: The Way Forward.”
The lecture had in attendance APC governors, their deputies, party chieftains such as the Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, former Governors Olusegun Osoba and Niyi Adebayo as well as Pastor Tunde Bakare among others.
The maiden lecture series was aimed at examining the nature, scope and dynamics of the current unemployment and governance crisis in Nigeria with a view to exploring alternative, creative and innovative solutions that could lead to mass creation of decent jobs and good governance in Nigeria.
Welcoming the progressive governors to the programme, the host governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi saluted the APC leaders for the initiative of proffering scientific solutions to the problems of unemployment in Nigeria.
Governor Ajimobi, who described the problem of unemployment as a global one, touching many countries in various degrees, noted that Nigeria’s unemployment rate is spiraling upwards, growing at 16 per cent per year.
“We must do something urgently as a nation to reverse this trend,’’ the governor emphasized, stressing “we must be attentive to the alarm raised by a concerned citizen who warned that of all the aspects of social misery, nothing is as heart-breaking as unemployment”, he added.
The governor said the lecture series organized by APC was to provide a platform for leadership, as, according to him “if you have leadership without governance, you risk tyranny, fraud and personal fiefdoms. If you have governance without leadership, you risk atrophy, bureaucracy and indifference.”
The Chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum and Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, in his address, said the mission of the progressives was to provide a unifying platform for partnership and collaboration among all state governors that promote the principles and practices of progressive politics to address current and future governance challenges.
Governor Okorocha, who said that the lecture would be held every quarter, assured that the resolutions reached at every lecture would be adopted by all APC states and used to develop workable strategies for job creation.
The National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in his address, decried the high level of insecurity in Nigeria attributing it to the high rate of unemployment which he described as a time bomb that could explode if not urgently addressed.
Tinubu, who was represented by a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, called on the leaders in the country to stop protecting their seats but rather concentrate on how to find lasting solution to insecurity and unemployment currently ravaging the country.
“The people of this country are now more determined than ever before to protect the country by way of kicking out incompetent leaders, either at the states or national level”, he said.
For former Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, there was the urgent need to tackle the unemployment and security challenges currently facing Nigeria.
In his own contribution, the Interim National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande said the party was being built to lift Nigeria away from backwardness to progress through positive ideas.
He said that APC would soon commence its congresses at all levels to build structures for the party across all the voting constituencies of the country adding, “APC is now the only party presently being built for men of ideas in Nigeria. It is the strongest platform for the progressives.”
In his lecture, an Economist, Dr. Ayo Teriba noted that unemployment rate had increased three-fold in the last 15 years, with the worst increases happening between 2007 and now.
Teriba, who spoke on the topic: “Nigeria’s High Growth-High Unemployment Paradox”, said that to make democratic governance a tool for delivering economic tangible and enduring economic benefits in the future, Nigeria should make monthly employment data available before the end of each month, fix rail transportation, rethink fiscal policy, re-focus monetary policy and ensure that elected officials accept responsibilities for policy formulation and coordination.