The minister of Youth Development, Inuwa Abdul-Kadir, took over the mantle of leadership of the ministry about a month ago. In this interview with John Oba, he assures that the safety and welfare of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members across the country is the primary concern of the federal government. He also expresses his commitment to repositioning of the ministry towards achieving its mandates.
With the security situation in some parts of the country, there has been agitations over the safety of the NYSC members; what step is the federal government taking on that?
The Federal Government of Nigeria is mindful of the safety and welfare of the NYSC like any citizen of Nigeria. Whether in areas where you can describe as more secure than the other, the same way the federal government is treating the security situation in the country to secure all Nigerians, it is the same manner the FG has responsibility to secure the corps members wherever they are posted to. The recent situation is a situation that is unusual and is being tackled by the federal government, but one would not pretend over the fact that there would be some fear and apprehension on the part of the corps members and their parents and guardians who may be concerned about allowing their wards to go to such areas to serve because of the security situation. Don’t forget that there are other Nigerians also living there, and I think there is no state that has no federal presence in terms of commonality of people whether in their own private capacity or who are there in their official capacity. Secondly, that is a situation that will sooner or later fizzle out and the problem will be over. The essence of NYSC is to have national integration and even in peace time. Leaving the place you are domiciled to another place is a great sacrifice. So under this kind of situation, it’s a very great sacrifice in the part of the NYSC. What government has been doing is to ensure that there is security of life and property for all Nigerians, whether they are corps member or not.Terrorism has no special target. Even the perpetrators of these crimes or distractions are not necessarily targeting the corps members as a special breed of Nigerians that they want to attack. So it’s a matter of concern, the federal government is concerned and nobody wants instability or insecurity in this country. So, it is not only the responsibility of the federal government, but mine and yours, too; we all have a responsibility to ensure that there is security. We all have a lot of roles to play from enlightenment to even exposing the perpetrators of this violence.
You seem to have a soft spot for the Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre (C<C) and you have been talking of training the youths through the centre; what will be the selection process of the youths for the training?
I am passionate about C<C because the centre is answerable to the ministry and it is one of the oldest institutions of learning in this country, and its objectives are unique and the fact that its training has imparted on many Nigerians. During colonialism and post-colonialism, a subsential number of Nigerian leaders have gone through its training programme. A lot of military officers went through that centre and they were given leadership training. I am emphasising the centre because its primary mandate is leadership training, and I am using it as an example of the various training that the ministry will embark on. But we are looking at the demand, because what we have on ground is not sufficient to accommodate all the Nigerian youths or all the states of the federation within a limited period of time, but the centre will serve as the nucleus of the leadershiptraining.
And don’t forget, the centre’s training at the NYSC orientation course is just a segment of what the centre does. That is why I am emphasising on that, because training to be a good citizen and a good leader is one of the most important aspects of all the re-orientations that you do for the youths and for government to achieve it objectives of making the youths good citizens of this country.
What format is the training going to take; is it in partnership with the state government?
No man is an island. Certainly, there are other people that have the capacity to implement what the centre will be doing. What is essential is for somebody to be inducted. After the induction course, other things will be follow, but let us start the training first to prepare the mind of the youths that this is what is expected of them, and this is why they are citizen of Nigeria. Let them realise that there are onerous responsibilities on them. What is next after that is for government to make provisions for them to get engage in some entrepreneurship activities or to set them in some organisation that will make them useful to the society, by getting them involved in some form of service or the other, just like what happened in Gombe State where the youths were used as road masters and in other areas. On our own part, we will wish to extend it by promoting and urging the Federal Ministry of Education and others to consider resuscitating in the school curriculum school-based youth associations up to the university level in order to make these young people busy and think positively; things that would make them conscious of what they are and should be.
For sometime now, the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) has been enmeshed in several problems, going from court to court; do you have any plan to re-organise the council?
They are having problems because they did not have this type of leadership training we are talking about. If they have had such, believe me, they would have been so organised, following the rules of the charters that established them. What is informing that is because there is some element of polarisation of these organisations that constitute the NYCN. That is why you see different litigations. Instead of focusing on the objectives of the council, some are just involved in bickering.
In as much as we have the responsibility of ensuring that things work well, I think it’s time the council put its house in order so that they can move forward in bringing succour to the youths of Nigeria.
Taking over the ministry, do you have an outlined plans for the next few years you are going to be at the helm of affairs here?
Yes, there have been a lot of misconceptions about what the ministry is all about. On my coming here, I have decided to reposition the ministry to face the challenges of its mandate, which is really youth development. We are not unaware of the fact that there is a lot of misgivings on this issue of youth organisation and so on. It is our responsibility to ensure that each stakeholder in this matter pays attentionto propagating what will help in developing the youths.
My target here is to ensure the repositioning of the ministry, and the mainstreaming of the youth ministry in other sectors, especially ministries and MDAs where youth-based programmes and appropriations are made in their various budgets to take care of the Ministry of Youth in terms of youth development.
Most youths see agriculture as an unattractive venture; does the ministry have any plans to carry out enlightenment programmes to encourage the youth to get involved in the agricultural sector?
Yes, we have already started the process. Whatever programme government initiates, it goes with a lot of advocacy and enlightening the youth. We will have also ensure that this is done. So, certainly, it is not a question of whether it should be done or if it will be done; we will not fold our hands believing that everything will be in order. So, something is being done on that.