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In Nigeria’s Economy, Politics, Youth Need “a level playing ground”: Catholic Archbishop

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja Archdiocese during the interactive session with Catholic Media practitioners in Abuja on 7 May 2021. Credit: Archdiocese of Abuja

Those in leadership in Nigeria need to give young people “a level playing ground” to enable them contribute to the political and economic matters of the West African country, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja Archdiocese has said.

Archbishop Kaigama who was interacting with Catholic media practitioners in the Nigerian Archdiocese ahead of the 2021 World Communications Day said that young people have previously played important roles in the development of the nation and need empowerment to guarantee the country’s future.

“Our leaders must ensure that young people are given a level playing ground in both economic and political matters,” Archbishop Kaigama said in his Friday, May 7 speech. 

He added, “Our energetic, dynamic and innovative youths must be able to shape the future they will inherit, and that future begins today. With a rapidly expanding youth population, the future of Nigeria belongs to the youth.” 

Unemployment, nepotism and poverty are some of the challenges that “have tended to inhibit the active participation of the youth in the economic and political transformation of our country,” Archbishop Kaigama further said, adding, “Corruption among public officials does not set a good example for our youth today.”

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The high level of unemployment in the country, he said, is “not only alarming but a national embarrassment.”

Nigerian youths are in search of jobs “that are not just there,” he noted and posed, “Are we surprised about the devastating consequences revealed in anti-social behaviors, drugs, alcohol, violence and reckless lifestyle are?” 

As a way forward, the 62-year-old Archbishop cautioned the youth against relying solely on the government for employment saying, “Skills and vocational training should be learnt to establish and empower oneself.”

He also encouraged private investors who, he said, could establish more industries “to absorb the ever-increasing yearly turn-out of graduates from our universities.”

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Archbishop Kaigama bemoaned graft in Africa’s most populous nation saying, “Everywhere, people have the penchant for cutting corners, in order to beat laid down rules and procedures.” 

Different Nigerian governments have declared “a vicious war against corruption, only for it to end up being swallowed up by the same monster,” he observed, adding, “We are yet to witness a concerted effort by the government to ensure that public officials accused of greed and grafts are brought to book without delay or debate.”

“Loopholes through which monies are siphoned from the public treasury are yet to be plugged, giving credence to the assertion that there is no credible template created upon which the war on corruption is to be fought,” the Nigerian Archbishop said.

Addressing the reported economic recession in the country, the Local Ordinary of Abuja said, “There is the strong perception that our economy is heading for the doldrums and unless the menace of corruption is scotched, it will only be a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if.’”

Addressing the challenge of insecurity in the country, Archbishop Kaigama called upon Nigeria’s leadership to “open up discussion, debate and dialogue” about the level of insecurity.  

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“At the moment, insecurity is the greatest challenge facing our country. Boko Haram has menacingly ravaged the land, the herdsmen/farmer menace has festered and spread and has today developed into banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, and brutal killings,” he decried.

President Muhammadu Buhari-led government must “do the needful in ensuring that terrorists are checkmated, criminals rounded up, bandits dismantled, and kidnappers put out of business,” the Archbishop said.

In the interaction ahead of the World Communications Day to be marked May 16, Archbishop Kaigama thanked media practitioners for carrying out their duties “with courageous commitment to provide information about those suffering in the shadows, natural and man-made disasters, cases of oppression and injustice inflicted on the poor, issues of the environment, inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflicts, democracy and its impact on our society.”

“Our entire human family would be impoverished and would be the worst for it if the opinions and information of media practitioners are ignored or misinterpreted,” Archbishop Kaigama said May 7 ahead of the May 16 event that will be marked under the theme, “Come and See.”