By Juliet Umeh
Former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, has challenged the federal government to prioritise education and also invest in Micro Small Medium Enterprises, MSMEs.
Obi who was a guest speaker at the 8th annual public lecture organised by the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria yesterday noted that all sorts of criminality are now in Nigeria and are driven by unemployed youths who have no hope.
He berated the present and incumbent governments, saying that their failures to invest in education and MSMEs are the reasons about 98 million Nigerians are living in abject poverty.
The former governor said at the lecture with the theme: National Security Challenges: Youth Neglect? “Today, the neglect of our youth by not investing in education which is the most critical component of human development index and also not investing in the engine that drives employment and economy which is Micro Small Medium Enterprises have created a pull of unemployed and underemployed youth. And that is the crisis we are facing today.
“As at the year 2000, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh and some other countries were low in human development index, HDI, but these other countries have moved either high or medium in the index but Nigeria still remains low because we have not invested in education.
“Indonesia with 150 million people has the highest number of Muslims in the world today and they’re doing very well.
In 2018, their budget for education was $40 billion; our budget for 200 million populations was about $2 billion. South Africa’s budget was $17.3 billion.
“Nigeria’s budget from 2009 to 2018 is $14.2billion. So, our budget for 14 years on education is not up to South Africa’s one year budget.
“Nigeria has more people living under poverty than China and India combined. China is 1.5 billion and India is about the same. So two of them are about 2.8 billion in population but we have more people living under poverty than two of them combined.
“Some people say that South Africa has the highest unemployment rate in the world, followed by India and Nigeria, it is not true.
Nigeria has the highest number.
“We are 200 million, with this number, it means if we use the average work force globally, that is 60 percent, we are supposed to have 520 million people working but we have 35 percent unemployment rate today.
When you combine it with unemployment it is over 60. But let’s just say it is 60, from the 520 million, 60 to 70 million are supposed to be our youth and if it is 60 million, it’s 72 million.
“And if you have a combined underemployment and unemployment of 60 percent, that means, you have 120 million, half of it is 60 million and are not working and out of which is youth who is 60 it’s 36 million.
That is the number of youth we have today that are either unemployed or underemployed.
South Africa is only 60 million and has about 16 million unemployed, so Nigeria is more by almost 20 million who don’t know where the next meal will come from.
“Today, we have the highest drug pushers in the world. While the average is 5.5, in Nigeria, it is 14.8 and among the youth are 21.
In terrorist ranking, we are just after Iran and Afghanistan and it is predicted that we will soon overtake them.
“In terms of stress, we are now worsening where Bloomberg has described Nigeria as the most stressful place to live.
Cohesion, we are so divided today all because we have not invested in the engine of your growth, youths.
Obi challenged the federal government to prioritise education or face the consequences.
“The more you invest in education; you will be able to create talents,” he stressed.
And the more you support MSMEs, the higher per capita income and the growth of the economy because it is the biggest employer of labour anywhere on earth.
He was worried that all these have been abandoned by Nigeria and those are the consequences of what Nigeria is seeing today.
In his address, General Overseer of Foursquare Church, Rev. Sam Aboyeji, said the special public lecture was in the church tradition to commemorate its 66th annual national convention that comes up in November.
He said: “Apart from praying for our leaders in the country, we also promote institutions to support government efforts.
This annual public lecture also represents our modest contribution to the development of our nation Nigeria.
Other notable Nigerians including the Chairman of Channels Media Group and Chairman and CEO, Channels Television, Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi among others.