Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, attributed the uprising and terrorism in the country partly to large armies of unemployed youths who were being recruited into violent extremist groups and criminal gangs.
Speaking at the public presentation of the 2020 Africa Progress Group (APG) report in Lagos themed, “Making Africa’s Population an Asset,” Obasanjo said Nigeria’s increasing population was assuming a worsening trend and had always kept him awake at night.
According to him, providing basic amenities for the country’s ever-increasing population has become a big challenge, a situation that has made many of our youths to be used as tools for crimes across the country.
Referring to the 11-year Boko Haram insurgency, Obasanjo said Mohammed Yusuf, the group’s founder, was noted to be a religious and forthright man who had lots of unemployed graduates around him.
Obasanjo said: “Mohammed Yusuf, who started Boko Haram, was said to be a good and responsible man with a lot of idle youths waiting to listen to him. I heard there was a time he called his followers and said to one, ‘you went to university, how many years now since you graduated?’ He said three years and what are you doing now? He said, ‘no job.’ Then he replied, ‘you see the uselessness of your university education.’
“That is how the word Boko Haram came up. By virtue of his followers not having jobs, he said ‘you see the uselessness of your western education.’ If we cannot provide jobs for our population, we are really in serious trouble. Nobody needs to tell us anything more.”
The report, ‘Population As Asset Responsiveness Index (PARI),’ is anticipated to be a stimulus for African countries to show more responsiveness to making their populations more of an asset than a burden.