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Youth unemployment in focus at Ogbomoso group’s Gbegiri Day celebration

SONS and daughters of Ogbomoso, in Oyo State, under the auspices of Ogbomoso Ajilete Group, Ibadan, gathered on Saturday, 29 October, to perform an annual ritual: the strengthening of their bond and measuring of the progress and development of their cradle. The occasion was the 2016 edition of the socio-cultural group’s Gbegiri Day. The lingering problem of youth unemployment, as it affects Ogbomoso, set the stage for the group to measure the town’s development this year.

Held at the NMA House, Total Garden, Ibadan, the event lived up to its name climaxing in the treatment of the band of indigenous people to their favourite dish: oka (also called amala) and gbegiri, a soup prepared with beans. A discourse on getting jobless youths off the streets and turning them into productive young Nigerians turned out to be the ‘first course’, which the eminent Ogbomosos present at the event relished no less than principal dish – the oka and gbegiri meal.

A former acting Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Afolabi Adeniran (retd), opened the discussion captioned “Peace, Progress and Development: Wither Ogbomosoland?” by calling attention to what he called the fine line between joblessness among youths and the tendency of a society running amok. He described the creation of job opportunities as a condition for achieving sustainable peace.

“Peace is a state of living in harmony but it is unattainable without some critical conditions, one of which is availability of jobs for the people, particularly youths. Organisations such as this should discourage our youths from the desperation for [limited] white-collar jobs and interest them in vocations. When I looked at the manifesto of this group, Ogbomoso Ajilete Group, Ibadan, I found a skills acquisition programme in there and I think that is commendable.

“An idle hand, they say, is the devil’s workshop. So, we cannot achieve peace without contentment. Peace will reign supreme once there is contentment. Usually, there is breach of the peace because people are frustrated because they have no jobs and they are hungry. It is always easy to execute plans to foment trouble or cause chaos in the society because jobless youths always constitute a willing tool. It is quite easy to recruit jobless people for devious ventures,” Justice Adeniran said.

He called on the various Ogbomoso groups to come together to create a melting pot in the overall interest of Ogbomoso land. “In my reckoning, there are more than 200 social groups in Ogbomoso land, and their aims and objectives boil down to one thing: the development of Ogbomoso land. This is the reason why I am urging all of us to unite and forge a common front in realising this objective,” he said.

Other discussants, including the chairman on the occasion, Prince Abioye Olatunji, agreed to the notion that youth unemployment is a critical factor of retrogression in any society. They described job creation as an important component of peace, progress and development and, therefore, called on the association to do its part by taking measures to tackle the problem of youth unemployment head-on through its social projects. They also warned against the severance of family ties due to “civilisation”, saying this was injurious to societal peace and development. A former member of the upper chamber of the National Assembly, Senator Ayo Adeseun, was also present at the event.

The president of the group, Dr Adebayo Belo, the essence of the event was to find the way forward in the promotion and development of Ogbomosoland.

“We are gathered here today to not only enjoy oka and gbegiri as of old but also to contribute in our small way to drawing a roadmap for the development of our cradle. We all want progress, peace and development of our root. It is our duty to make conscious efforts at taking Ogbomosoland to the desired level. Ogbomosoland is destined to lead, a land of industrious, educated, entrepreneurial and widely travelled people, scattered all over northern Nigeria and the entire West Africa, especially Ghana. Of recent, the Ogbomosos are a sizable population in some towns in England and America,” Dr Belo said.

The medical practitioner, however, called for donations from public-spirited individuals and groups to enable the group finance its developmental and social projects which include youth empowerment and provision of amenities in some locations in Ogbomoso.

“We have identified some areas of youth unemployment and as such, we have decided to sponsor about 100 youths from across the five local government areas in Ogbomoso on skills acquisition and empowerment in some fields. As of now, we have 65 people on our roll for the teaching of crafts like tailoring, carpentry, mechanics and tie-dye. If we succeed with these people, it will go a long way in ensuring that everybody has something to do. It will get people roaming about off the streets and make them more productive,” he said.

He then called on Ogbomoso indigenes to jettison all divisive tendencies and unite for the greatness of the town.

“We want to seize this opportunity to call on all Ogbomoso sons and daughters to close ranks in all that concern our native land. Nothing must becloud the fact that we are Ogbomosos. We are saying this because we all know that small things could divide us in Ogbomosoland: politics, chieftaincy and others, even association. As we gather here today, let us remember that Ogbomosoland is greater than any single person. The rumble in the chieftaincy jungle must stop. Let us give peace a chance to allow for progress and development,” Dr Belo said.

Ogbomoso Ajilete Group, Ibadan, is a voluntary association of men and women, indigenes of Ogbomoso resident in and around Ibadan, whose membership cuts across the five local government areas in the town.