Increased investment in youth can stop irregular migration – Sports Minister

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, has said youth are underserved by development and only an increase in youth-targeted investment can stop irregular migration that arises because of the situation.

He advocated for partnerships between critical non-for-profit agencies and his Ministry strategic plan, called DEEL, as one of the ways to reduce irregular migration in the country.

Speaking on a discussion panel alongside the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Amina Mohammed, during the launch of the UNDP Migration Report in Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, the Minister, said the technical expertise of the NGOs would help in training young people to acquire digital skills and become employable, thereby discouraging irregular migration. One of the strategies of Objection 7 of the National Youth Policy is to ‘Provide youth job seekers with information on working legitimately in other countries to discourage illegal migration’.

The UNDP Migration Report is called “Scaling Fences: Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe”. Some of the most shocking statistics from the report showed that of the 30,000 irregular migration deaths and disappearances reported by IOM for the period 2014 to 2018, over 17,000 took place in the Mediterranean. Also, 17% of the respondents spoken to were Nigerians representing the largest in the group. Just 38% said they earned enough ‘to get by’, 50% felt they were not earning enough, and only 12% reported being able to save.

“We need to invest more in our youth,” Mr. Dare said. “I’m shocked by the fact that the bulk of those that leave our shores are actually educated. Some of our youth go over to Europe just because they want to enjoy constant power (electricity). They want a life that is easier and gives opportunities. If we invest more in our youth, perhaps whatever pulls them to engage in irregular migration will no longer be so strong and they will find reasons to stay back. There’s political will now to look at the youth buzz and see what can be done.”

“There are over 250 digital skills that we can train our youth on. We have come up with the plan called DEEL, with digital skills acquisition as a key component. In partnership with Junior Achievement Nigeria, we are setting up digital hubs. 24 of them. We want to have 300 youths go through trainings at each of these digital hubs for 2 months per group in 10 different areas of digital skills. They will get certification, after which they get some support to self-start.

“We have designed so many programmes and we need to build capacity and so we have NGOs like the UNDP and the DFID not just the resources but also the manpower to help us train our youth. Partnerships are important.”

Speaking about his programmes for the Youth, the Minister said he has been on a quest to identify the best opportunities to improve the employability of young people and profitability of their enterprises.

He said, “There is a United Nations programme for the Youth called the Junior Professional Officers and Nigeria has the opportunity to place 122 youth in those offices. We intend to send 122  of our youth into the UN system, working with the Ministry of Finance. It comes at a cost, about $3.2m but we will do it.

There is a new drive to cater for our youth, even those at the very bottom of the pyramid. From the vulcanizers on the roadside to the graduate that news new digital skills.”

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