By Egufe Yafugborhi
PORT HARCOURT – DIRECTOR General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Sir Joseph Ari, says Nigeria’s rapid swelling youth population is a demographic bomb with huge potential for social and political instability if not fully utilized.
Ari expressed the concern in Port Harcourt, Rivers state at the graduation and distribution of start-up packs to 100 beneficiaries (3095 nationwide) of the 2021 ITF’s National Industrial Skills Development Programme
(NISDP) who had three months training on Catering and Event Management and Plumbing.
The DG, represented by the Director, Business Training Development, Mrs Adetola Ajei, said, “Today ur population has ballooned to over 200 million with a birth rate close to 3 percent per annum and projections that we may hit the 400 million mark by 2050, which will catapult us to third after China and India on ranking of nations with highest population.
“Whereas the youth bulge may not be entirely disadvantageous and, indeed, a demographic dividend if people of working age are engaged in productive activities and its potential fully harnessed, it becomes a demographic bomb and huge potential for social and political instability when not fully utilized.
“Countries like China, South Korea, and Vietnam among others that were able to take advantage of the youth bulge, did so through huge investments in skills acquisition and a raft of other economic reforms that ensured that the youthful workforce was gainfully engaged.
“That we are today, contending with cultism and other social vices and rising incidences of criminality, is indicative of the fact that as a country we failed to apply the appropriate measures that would have turned our swelling youth population to a veritable advantage.
“This neglect, when tied with the increasing number of out or school children, unemployment and poverty, the portents for our dear nation are bleak and warn of darker times ahead.
Ari however noted that the development is not all doom and gloom for Nigeria, going by the policies and government, through policies and programmes like the NISDP, is working to empower as many youths as possible to ease the fears over the youth bulge.
He enjoined stakeholders including
government at all tiers, NGOs and faith based bodies to collaborate with the ITF in efforts to train and empower Nigerians, while charging beneficiaries of the 2021 NISDP not sell their starter packs but excel and become employers in their various skills acquired.