By G9ija

Olusegun Obasanjo and Sunday Dare

The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has said Olusegun Obasanjo failed to develop a “sustainable model” that tackles unemployment during and after his tenure as president.

The minister stated this while reacting to a comment credited to Obasanjo, in an interview with FRIDAY OLOKOR.

Obasanjo had said described the rising youth unemployment in the country as a time bomb.

However, Sunday Dare, in his response, queried Obasanjo’s performance towards tackling unemployment.

“What did President Obasanjo do to address youth unemployment when he was in power for eight years?” the minister asked.

The minister, however, defended President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

He said the present administration has tried to change the fundamentals of youth engagement, away from just getting a job in a government agency.

Sunday Dare said: “The Buhari government is doing something different. Youth unemployment and general unemployment have been with us for a long time, it didn’t start just six years ago; it didn’t start on this President’s watch. You must also link it with the international economic trajectory. Even before COVID-19, you saw economies struggle from North America to Europe and the rest of the world. Revenues were dwindling, nations were running into massive debts, including America, and then you saw what happened with the COVID-19 pandemic; negative (economic) growth all over. The data are there, it is a global village, Nigeria is not an island, Nigeria is not insulated from these global shocks and what happened eventually. You saw the level of poverty rising, people losing their employment, more people becoming underemployed, some unemployed. So, I am just giving you a realistic perspective.

“Yes, it is worrisome that we have increasing unemployment among the youth but it also cuts across. And more needs to be done by both private and public sectors. Therefore, I want to focus on what this administration has been doing consciously and deliberately. We have seen in six years an administration that has tried to change the fundamentals of youth engagement, away from just getting a job in a government agency, laying emphasis on training and entrepreneurship, we have seen how about 35 to 40 youth-focused programmes were created and youths have benefited from them. We have seen deliberate efforts to frontally attack youth employment through multi-faceted approaches, by trying to restart the economy, providing necessary infrastructures. So, when you look at it, there is no tailor-made solution to youth unemployment and the challenge every government has is to find a way to bring down youth unemployment.

“As a ministry, we have also found out that it is not just about offering letters of employment, we can turn our youths to wealth creators, entrepreneurs through SMEs and we have seen quite a number of programmes, we have the GEEP, the BoI giving out various types of loans, we have seen the Nigerian Youth Investment Forum programme; we have seen SMEDAN, we have the Ministry of Trade and Investment doing several programmes and when you look at the whole gamut of these programmes, they are all aimed at helping youths that are unemployed get employed, providing the necessary capital and access to credit that they need to become self-starters and entrepreneurs.

“Also, let us look at government policies, some of them deliberate, to restart and energise the industries and other sectors of the economy that can take them (youths) in.”