TECHNOCRAT MEDIA, Abuja
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said the 15 million out-of-school children is worrisome and dangerous for the nation if not attended to by the government.
The former president spoke at the 2022 Murtala Muhammed Foundation memorial lecture on Monday in Abuja with the theme: “Beyond Boko Haram: Addressing Insurgency, Banditry, and Kidnapping across Nigeria.”
Mr Obasanjo who participated virtually said the out-of-school children constitute a dangerous challenge for the future in about ten years to come.
He said: “In 2011, I was in Maiduguri to understudy and understand the objectives of Boko Haram. They said they wanted Sharia and that some of their followers don’t have jobs.”
“In the efforts to get meaningful jobs for them, the government had started gunning them down. That was how the whole escalated.”
“Today, Nigeria is about 215 million people with 15 million children who are supposed to be in school are being out of school.”
“Either by carrot or stick or both carrot and stick, we should get those children in school. If we fail, Boko Haram members of ten years are being created already,” Mr Obasanjo said.
The former president added that treating symptoms of insecurity instead of treating the root cause won’t get the nation anywhere and noted that some people have turned the issue of insecurity into business in order to be supplying useless equipment and materials.
He further stated that government should make education and creating jobs for youth a priority. He said: “Youth under 30 in Nigeria is over 60% who are mostly without jobs.”
“We are not going anywhere if we don’t take nation-building seriously which we are not taking seriously right now. Power, social infrastructures, and justice are essential to building the country,” he said.
The guest speaker, governor of Ekiti state, Kayode Fayemi said the late head of state, Murtala Muhammed was a successful African leader who inspired Nigerians and also inspired abroad, across Africa and the entire world.
Dr Fayemi said the determined effort of the late general at a domestic national reset was refracted effortlessly into the country’s foreign policy posture.
“In Murtala Muhammed, we had a leader we could trust. In the Muhammed-Obasanjo administration, we had a government we could believe in. We lived a moment of pride and dignity as Nigerians convinced that together, as one people, we can surmount our differences and overcome our weaknesses to march forward and onward in the journey of forging our national greatness'”
“Boko Haram and all it symbolises may have brought out in sharp and painful relief, the many discontents that have accompanied our state and nation-building effort. However, like the generation of General Muhammed, our duty is to reorganise in order, like Phoenix, to rise from the ashes stronger and better.” the governor said.
He called on Nigerians to stand up and raise their voices in counterweight to the Boko Haram mentality of dismemberment and in defense of a Nigerian agenda built on a new and updated social compact.
The chief executive officer of the foundation, Mrs Ashia Muhammed Oyebode said the organisation will continue to work in humanitarian services, education, policy, and advocacy to impact the lives of the people at the grassroots in Nigeria.