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We must redouble efforts to empower youths —Saraki

President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has called for more efforts on youth empowerment, saying, “government, the private sector and academia must redouble its effort to empower Nigerian youth for entrepreneurship and greater self-reliance.”

Saraki said national leaders have the responsibility to tap into the large population of the youths and turn them into young entrepreneurs who could also be employers of labour, instead of looking for non-existing jobs.

While speaking on the technology and skills building training programme scheduled to be launched in Kwara State, tomorrow, the Senate President said one of the greatest challenges the country had to grapple with was the need to gainfully engage the country’s bulging youth population.

Under the Skills acquisition, Training and Empowerment Programme (STEP), 40,000 youths would be trained over four years with advanced skills and technology training in areas such as computer engineering, software development, animation, cinematography, event management and many other areas where the participants would grow to be self-employed.

The goal was to make participants globally competitive in the sectors for which they would be trained, and such preparation was said to be important for future employment, starting businesses, creating jobs and putting able-bodied and motivated youths to work.

Saraki, in a statement issued from his media office, on Thursday, further said, “According to the latest estimate from the National Population Commission, Nigeria’s population is now approximately 182 million people. More than half of the population is under 30 and another 40 per cent of that are under the age of 14.

“National leaders like me have the responsibility to take heed to these numbers and develop future oriented technology, training and employment schemes to integrate the younger population into our new economy. We must make these young men and women entrepreneurs who can also be employers of labour instead of looking for non-existing jobs,” the Senate President said.

He also noted that the future of Nigeria’s economic security rests with how we prepare today’s youth, adding that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had predicted that Nigeria’s economy would contract by 1.7 per cent in 2017.