Recent statistics have pointed to the fact that many young Nigerians, over the past few years, have been leaving the country in alarming numbers. The search for better living conditions and an enabling environment to fulfil their dreams drives the youths to seek more financially stable economies.
It is no secret that the economic condition of the country has plunged many into poverty. Although Nigeria is rich in natural resources, its economy is unable to meet the basic needs of the populace. Alarmingly, the population continues to increase at a fast rate. The disparity between the snowballing rate of poverty and the growth of the GDP shows that distribution of wealth in Nigeria is slanted.
32% of households in Nigeria have testified to their economic situation worsening over the period of a year while 64% consider themselves poor. National statistics reveal that poverty is declining, but in a slow manner. Lack remains a critical challenge for the youths. Many have dreams that need to be fulfilled. Others desire to go to school. Jobs are hard to come by and businesses need financial backing to thrive. The plight of the youths is worsened by the indifference of the government.
These factors, therefore, create the mentality that life in Nigeria is not worth living. The belief is that countries outside Nigeria and Africa, in general, have better standards of living. Although, this may be true, and migration might be the answer to the financial situation of many Nigerians, there is need for the youths to be aware that a conscious and thought-out migration plan is more important.
Choice destination countries for most migrants include Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, Russia, Greece and Spain. All mentioned countries already have organized and established guidelines and laws for their citizens and immigrants. This is to ensure that everyone registered legally in the system gets the basic amenities and support from the government. In addition, it is to make certain that crime is brought to the barest minimum, ensuring the safety of everyone in the country. Their borders are open for migrants, but only via regular means. However, the bulk of Nigerians migrating into Europe do so via irregular means, with no plans as to how they would better the economy of the destination countries they plan to get into.
The mentality is to simply get in, and the rest would take care of itself. They end up being on the run from the police, struggling with decent jobs and accommodation, working twice as hard as they would in Nigeria, and finding themselves being exploited, sold into slavery by traffickers and smugglers and engaging in crime. The journey alone, via the desert and through the Mediterranean Sea, has claimed the lives of thousands and left many more in slavery and debt to traffickers.
Women are sold into prostitution while men are used for hard labor and crime. The freedom to live and work as one desires here in Nigeria is taken from them. They are then left to grapple with worse financial difficulties than they had previously had, and added hardship. Some are killed and their parts harvested for organ trade.
This is the reality of illegal Nigerian migrants on transit to Europe and even for those living there. Very few of them make it into comfortable living conditions. Very few significantly turn their situation around enough to lift others back home out of poverty. Little wonder you hear scores of stories of family members disappearing abroad and never being heard of again. You hear of many traveling and abandoning their families back here.
What then is the solution to this? How can young people be encouraged to look within themselves and their immediate environment to lift themselves out of their current struggles and to create an oasis in the middle of the desert?
The answer lies within the youths themselves. A change in government policies would go a long way, but while we wait for that, it is imperative for the youths to seek enabling environments and programs within Nigeria that can push them forward.
Certain non-governmental organizations have risen to the occasion to better the economic condition of young Nigerians via empowerment initiatives. Notable amongst them is Dare 2 Dream. Founded by Kinabuti, it engages the youth and women through empowerment and economic development, using various initiatives such as the “Dare2Dream” initiative. It is a youth empowerment platform set to channel young creative talents with opportunities that can help them achieve their dreams and design their lives the way they want.
Suleiman Danladi Lukman from Kwara State is a beneficiary of one of Dare 2 Dream’s programs in conjunction with OIP Computer Institute in Lagos. Unable to further his education due to financial constraints, he picked a form that helped him register for basic training in ICT. Subsequently, he attended a class that spanned over the course of four months, which had him falling in love with computers. He now tutors others with the same knowledge he had learned.
His motivation is seeking a life that is better than what his parents had. He is now the breadwinner of his family, and hopes to do much more for them in the near future. Suleiman believes that Nigeria brings the best in all of us. “Even those who are fleeing away, the best in them is hidden. They will go abroad and have to adjust to the way of life there, killing their talents and dreams, just so that they can survive.”
He believes the hardship in Nigeria doesn’t have to kill you. It can rather drive you into pursuing hard after your dreams. He advises youths to start planning for the future and not seek for quick cash that won’t last long.
Suleiman emulates what Dare 2 Dream has done. He plans to pay it forward by empowering young people with knowledge on information technology.
Yusuf Lukmon Olawale has similar dreams, and is already living them. Dare 2 Dream had given him the boost he needed to kick off his career in ICT. Because of the free training he gained, he passed his final exams from Yaba College of Technology with an upper credit, and today he is a junior instructor in OIP.
Yusuf is certain that the Nigerian situation has pushed him to be dogged. He believes he has the die-hard Nigerian spirit, and every Nigerian has it as well.
“When you open a particular book, each page gives a different story. I don’t see the Nigerian problem affecting my own success. My plan of the future is how to have my own company and not work for anyone.”
Counseling Nigerian youths, he tells them never to let any challenge weigh them down.
“Keep moving, be focused and be prayerful. Things would get better.”
Millions of Nigerian youths remain skeptical about the improvement of the state of things in the country. However, one must divorce oneself from wallowing in a perceived reality and accept reality, and work hard at accomplishing what one desires to have. The journey through the Sahara desert and Mediterranean has not produced great minds. Instead, it has robbed a beautiful nation of dreams, youth, brains, labor, creativity and innovation. It has made many parents childless and left young people traumatized and haunted by nightmares.
Like Yusuf and Suleiman who made green the grass on their own side, every youth must seek to build their dreams with their own hands.
Chyllian, a returnee from Libya, who now works in helping Nigerian youths pursue their ambitions here in Nigeria, has this to say:
“Travel for the right reasons. A lot of us travel because of finance. That’s not a good reason to travel. But how about building our country? It’s our responsibility. We don’t have to start running off because there is hardship. We have to look at what we can do to proffer solution to what we are passing through. If all the brainy and intelligent people in Nigeria should leave, who would build the country?”
SANWO-OLU BIDS JUSTICE BULKACHUWA FAREWELL, AS APPEAL COURT PRESIDENT RETIRES
…Lagos’ll Always Keep Faith In The Rule Of Law, Says Governor
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said his administration will not deviate from the tenet of constitutional democracy, promising that actions of the State Government under his watch will be kept within the ambit of the law.
He said his Government’s faith in the judicial system remained unshakable, adding that Lagos had been a beneficiary of the rule of law.
Sanwo-Olu spoke on Wednesday while receiving the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa, on a courtesy visit at the Lagos House in Marina.
Justice Bulkachuwa, who was accompanied by other Justices of the Appeal Court, is retiring from the service after reaching the mandatory retirement period.
The Governor said Lagos would always stand on the good side of the law, adding that his administration would particularly stand in principle against actions that may undermine the independence of the Court.
He said: “Government in Lagos State is committed to ensuring that we all live within the ambit of the law. We will continue to engage the judiciary as an independent arm of the government. All of us in the executive arm will continue to uphold the tenet of the constitution that we swore to in our ways and deeds. We will not run foul of the law or any pronouncement of the Court.”
Sanwo-Olu saluted the outgoing Justice Bulkachuwa for her courage in driving far-reaching reforms in the Court of Appeal, saying her legacies would strengthen administration of justice across the country. The Governor said her legacies would be a guiding light for members of the judiciary and officers in the other arms of government.
The Governor said: “We are happy that you are proceeding to retirement at this prime age. You are now 70 years old but you are looking like a 50-year-old. Glory be to Almighty Allah for the grace of youthful appearance and energy. You have had a wonderful career in the judiciary.
“The several successes you have recorded during your tenure as President of the Court of Appeal will continue to be the legacy we will uphold in remembrance of your service to the nation. You are the oldest serving President of the Court of Appeal and you brought many reforms and laudable initiatives to strengthen the judicial process.
“Whoever is succeeding you will have enough to draw from your legacies. We hope you keep your doors open not only to the judiciary but also all of us who are looking forward to learn from your leadership skills.”
Justice Bulkachuwa said she would dedicate her retirement life to promoting girl-child education across the country, noting that she would not have achieved her potential had her father not given her a chance to go to school.
She was hopeful that the reforms and discipline she had instituted in the judiciary would be strengthened by the serving members, pointing out that she had mentored a new breed of judicial officers to entrench “good legacies” she is leaving behind.
“I will still be with my sisters and brother in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Courts. I have mentored so many young judicial officers and upcoming lawyers to carry on the legacies. I will still be part of the judicial system despite my retirement,” Justice Bulkachuwa said.
Asked why she chose to visit Lagos Governor in her first valedictory visit to any elected official, Justice Bulkachuwa said it was in Lagos the first Court of Appeal was set up among the three divisions created in 1976.
Besides, she said Lagos is playing pivotal roles in the administration of justice system, pointing out that majority of lawyers in the judiciary are serving in the State. She added that most of Appeal Court’s cases were being instituted in Lagos.
THERE’S NO MULTIPLE TAXATION IN LAGOS – SANWO-OLU
Lagos State Government has reiterated that there is currently no multiple taxation in Lagos State revenue system.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu stated this during a courtesy visit to Lagos House, Ikeja by the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS) Mr. Muhammad Nami.
Placing emphasis on startups, the Governor stated that his administration will always improve on the ease of doing business in the State rather than stifle the economy with loaded taxes.
Mr Sanwo-Olu promised to embrace and support the activities of start-ups who are scared of the tax burden associated with businesses.
He also urged Nigerians to pay their taxes regularly in order for the Government to attain a balanced development at all levels, which according to him, include social infrastructure, security among others.
The Governor promised that Lagos State Government would continue with the existing relationship and further collaborate with the Federal Inland revenue Service in sharing information to aid revenue collection and ensure deliverables were met.
Sanwo-Olu lauded the Federal Government for considering the starte up businesses in the exemption threshold on taxation.
His said: “we will make sure that there is ease of doing businesses, especially start-ups, that are always scared that they have multiple taxation. There is nothing like multiple taxation in Lagos.
“It is clear that they are exempted but that doesn’t stop them from doing proper filing and ensure transparent reporting at whichever level of their business.
“We will also use this opportunity to encourage our citizens that it is only when they play their own part as responsible citizens both at the corporate and individual level that the government can come up and discharge its responsibilities.
“Development is by tax and it is only when we collect reasonably amount of tax that we can introduce development both at infrastructure level and more importantly on security so we cannot but ensure that we collaborate and corporate with you,” he said.
Responding to the Chairman on the N8.5 trillion target set by the President, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the country has the capacity to generate such amount but warned that it must be done cautiously.
Also speaking on the ongoing Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) 2020 meeting holding for the first time in Lagos, Sanwo-Olu said it was an opportunity to deliberate on the proceeds that State gets from the Federal Government was used judiciously.
He said: “I am sure they know clearly that you can live up to those bills and 8.5 trillion sounds a lot but they know you have the capacity.
The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, said the aim of the visit was to ensure effective performance of the service in meeting its target and in its request to share information, collaborate in building capacity as well as engage private sector on the Value Added Tax collection.
“We feel without this collaboration, we cannot generate this 8.5 trillion that we have been mandated by the President to generate,” he said.
LAGOS-BADAGRY HIGHWAY MUST REMAIN 10-LANE CARRIAGEWAY, SANWO-OLU APPEALS TO FG
The 10-lane right-of-way already set by the Lagos State Government in the ongoing construction of Lagos-Badagry Expressway needs to be preserved, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu urged the Federal Government.
Sanwo-Olu said the ongoing construction work on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway would shoot up population upon completion and open the corridor up for more physical development.
The Governor stressed that the maintenance of 10-lane on the stretch currently being constructed by the Federal Government was necessary to help the State efficiently manage traffic and enhance safety of residents on the axis.
Sanwo-Olu spoke on Wednesday, while meeting with members of the Senate Committee on Works that paid him a courtesy visit at the State House in Alausa. The Committee was led by its chairman, Sen. Adamu Aliero.
The Federal Government is currently handling the construction of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway from Agbara to Seme Border, while Lagos Government is complementing the effort from Orile to Iba town, creating five-lane on either sides of the 22-kilometre-long stretch.
The Governor said reducing the expressway to two-lane highway could not be sustainable for future development, adding that the preservation of the 10-lane already set on the highway would make it easy for Lagos to extend its Blue Line Rail project into Badagry town.
Sanwo-Olu said: “I am happy that the Federal Government has taken up the construction of Lagos-Badagry Expressway from Agbara to Seme Border. But the challenge is that we don’t want them to reduce the expressway to two lanes. We’ve said to them that they should keep the 10-lane right-of-way, instead of reducing it back to two-lane. Even if what they are going to build is two lanes on either sides, let them keep the space for expansion to 10 lanes. So that in future, either State or Federal government can build on it.
“We also have our rail infrastructure along that Badagry corridor and we are hoping that it will be completed before the end of next year. With the rail corridor and the 10-lane expressway, it means we can extend the rail project to Badagry. That’s why we must preserve the 10 lanes for future development.”
The Governor thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly for prioritising the rehabilitation of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the budgetary support being giving to the Ministry of Works and Housing handling the project.
Sanwo-Olu praised the Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, for the progress recorded on the ongoing construction work on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, while also urging the Federal Government to hasten the rehabilitation work on other inter-state expressways, including Ikorodu-Sagamu Highway, Itokin Expressway and Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
He said Lagos had already started to leverage Public Private Partnership (PPP) in providing requisite infrastructure to support businesses and enhance economic growth. He said the State was ready to support other private-led initiatives that would bring succour to commuters and residents of the State.
Aliero said the purpose for the Committee members’ trip to Lagos was to inspect the ongoing road projects being handled by the Federal Government in the State, noting that the Senators would be visiting Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonsoki, Lagos-Ibadan and Lagos-Badagry expressways to inspect the ongoing work on the roads.
The Committee chairman said Lagos deserved the attention being accorded to it by the Federal Government, describing the State as “strategic” for commerce and innovation in the country.
Although two of the road projects are being funded from Sovereign Wealth Fund and Budget, Aliero said there was need for Government at all level to partner with private sector for development projects. He said the National Assembly had start working on legislation that would make the Government to leverage PPP model in financing infrastructure.
He said: “We can no longer rely on budgetary allocations to continue funding projects. We have to find an alternative way of providing infrastructure, including roads, railway and power. Perhaps it is important now to go into PPP, giving the example laid down by Alhaji Aliko Dangote who is constructing and expanding Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonsoki Expressway. If we had gone by budget, it might take another 10 years to complete the road.
“If we allow the private sector to construct and manage the infrastructure, it would go a long way in making provision of infrastructure easier. This is why the Senate is coming up with strong legislation to enable the private sector to go into partnership with Government to build infrastructure. Whatever money remain can be invested in social sector, such as education and healthcare delivery.”
Aliero praised the Lagos Government for complementing the effort of the Comptroller of Works in traffic management and rehabilitation of failed sections of federal roads.
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