One of the steps that Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State took to reduce youth unemployment and recruit fresh, young hands to participate in the provision of governmental services was the creation of the Youth Employment Scheme of Oyo State (YES-O).

It was an emulation of a similar programme enacted by Osun State, known as Osun Youth Employment Scheme (O-YES).

Under the scheme, about 20,000 youth were recruited and trained to work in the emergency services, waste management, environmental sanitation, traffic management and some aspects of educational services.

They were paid a monthly stipend of N10,000 each. It was clearly not a regular employment scheme but a palliative to give the idle youth something useful to do for society in return for a monthly handout. Uniforms were sewn for the cadets as a sign of authority.

But once the scheme took off, it soon became the proverbial Frankenstein monster that turned round to devour its master. Life was made hellish for the ordinary folk, as the operatives mounted a siege, extorting huge sums of money for real or trumped-up traffic offences, towing away people’s vehicles, carrying out illegal demolitions and carting away traders’ wares while forcing people to part with huge sums of money before their belongings were restored to them.

The money invariably went into private pockets. The YES-O scheme thus became a reign of terror perpetrated by the cadets in total contravention of the original intents of setting it up. When the government sacked all 20,000 members of the Scheme, it was widely cheered by the people.

We hope the lesson of this misadventure has been learnt. Governor Ajimobi simply plunged headlong into a scheme set up by his next door neighbour without taking time to see if it would produce expected results in his state. The state had to be put through a costly experiment that got its finger burnt before backing out in defeat.

Clearly, due diligence was not done in selecting the participants. Rather, it was thrown open to all comers and people used to rough ways of making money. It is not clear now how much training or orientation these people got before deployment into the field. The uniforms merely conferred official legitimacy for them to swoop upon fellow citizens.

Governor Ajimobi should meet with his Osun and Lagos peers and find out how theirs worked. In Lagos, former governor, Ahmed Tinubu, also recruited people from the streets to start such schemes as Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI), Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and others.

The journey was not smooth, as citizens complained of similar acts of corruption and brigandage against their operatives. But the continued re-orientation of the operatives and their placement on full employment, led to a gradual refinement in their conducts.

Ajimobi should return to the drawing board.


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