How to Create One Million Jobs Protecting National Assets

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Perspective

Considering the need for security in Nigeria, Magnus Onyibe suggests that many unemployed youths can be productively engaged providing security in the country

These are perilous times for President Muhamadu Buhari and the 36 state governors in Nigeria. In fact some would argue that this is not a good time to be president or governor in Nigeria.

Already, about twenty seven, 27 of the states are said to be so insolvent, the governors are unable to pay civil servants their monthly emoluments without assistance from the federal government.

This coupled with the resurgent militants destroying oil production and transportation facilities linking export terminal operated by Shell and a rig owned by Chevron- twice in two weeks, there is an estimated loss of 300,000 barrels of oil per day, due to the damaged oil infrastructure and reduced monthly revenue allocation from the Federation Account (FAAC).

With two major oil facilities damaged and volume of oil which Delta State contributes into the national pool is now short by at least 300, 000mpd. So, the amount received from FAAC will drop further and that implies more financial headaches.

In a recent interview with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Shell Petroleum and Development Company (SPDC), in Nigeria, Osagie Osunbor, he revealed that in 2014, theft of crude oil from SPDC pipelines was 37,000 barrel per day. It dropped to 25,000 in 2015, in part due to sale of some of the facilities to indigenous investors and the SPDC boss further disclosed that the number of attacks also dropped from 139 in 2014 to 93 in 2015, but nonetheless, theft and sabotage still constitute about 85% of spills from SPDC pipelines.

Ibe Kachikwu,Petroleum minister of state, who also doubles as GMD of NNPC, reckons that the losses are more as he insists that Nigeria’s oil production is down by about 40 per cent due to renewed militancy in the Niger Delta.

When you add the debilitating effects of such horrendous vandalism induced losses to the tumbling crude oil price in the international market, then you can vividly see the reason there is palpable apprehension about the looming insurgency of militants that could further exacerbate an already complex and precarious situation in the Niger Delta zones in particular and which is bad news for Nigerians as a whole.

Viewed from the prism of the colossal amount of money and lives lost to vandalism and related activities catalogued above, it goes without saying that government should seek for enduring ways and means of protecting critical national assets such as the ones identified as being under threat.

Already, President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in the course of their campaign for office last year, promised that the federal government would recruit 500, 000 unemployed graduates into the teaching profession to create employment and also boost education, which is good but there is another opportunity to create 1, 000, 000 jobs for youths through the establishment of Critical National Asset Protection Corps.

To start with, there are several youth-centric outfits such as the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) set up as far back in 1978, as a national integration forum for Nigerian youths. There is also the National Security and Civil Defense Corp (NSCDC), a paramilitary agency set up to ensure public order, just as there is Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) focused on safety on Nigerian roads.

So, there already exists a blue print for setting up a youth focused organisation and the requisite experience abounds for its operation. Considering that a recent advertisement for application into the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) attracted about one million youths even though only a few thousands were needed, the importance of creating more platforms to harness the productivity of these apparently idle but virile young men and women in their prime, for the growth and development of Nigeria cannot be over emphasised.

More so, as they will be performing a fundamental task of filling the security gap which the lack of existing plans for the protection of critical national assets created, hence they have been unduly exposed to vandalism.

A couple of years ago, an advertisement by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), inviting youths for employment also attracted a record number, but due to lack of effective crowd control strategies, some of the youths who turned up in droves, were unfortunately trampled to death during stampede.

What the scenarios described above imply is that there already exists a workforce with latent energy waiting to be harnessed as veritable human resources for the proposed Critical National Assets Protection Corp (CNAPC).

Apart from the fact that youths abound, there is also a huge reservoir of men and women with military experience waiting to impart the knowledge to a new crop.

This is because over the past few years, the Nigerian military has spent huge money training members of the armed and other security forces at home and abroad. Though owing to coups and counter coups, which were common at the nascent stage of Nigeria’s development, most of the military men trained in prestigious institutions in the United States of America (USA), Europe, lndia and other parts of the world retired prematurely from service but their useful trainings in security matters qualifies them as veritable pool of potential human resources developments that could drive the CNAPC initiative.

It goes without saying that corps member would only supervise licensed private security firms to be sourced from the various communities where the assets are located. That way there will be a sense of ownership by the community and the current concept of relying on vigilante rag tag army would be eliminated.

Ideally, at this level of our development as a nation, there is no need for vigilante groups like Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) in the North, Odua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) in the South-west and now Bakasi boys who just been resuscitated in the South-east, but in the absence of adequate protection by the military and police, citizens are left with no other option than to rely on such ad hoc measures which is like what obtained in the USA before it became a confederation.

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, so make no mistake about it, what is being proposed is not a novelty.

Before the development of the USA into federations of states, each state had their own militia for protection because there was no common army. That’s the origin of the freedom to bear arms-Stand Your Ground-policy by members of American societies who needed to protect their communities from outlaws like slave raiders and red Indians whom foreign invaders mainly from Europe had displaced from their land.

The beauty of this proposal is that its two for the price of one because not only would government be providing one million five hundred thousand jobs for the youths, instead of just five hundred thousand initially being proposed for recruitment as teachers, the nation’s critical assets, now susceptible to vandalism, would also be best safeguarded.

It is now left to the authorities to seize the opportunity to think and act out of the box in creating jobs for the burgeoning number of unemployed youths in Nigeria.

However, no matter how lofty the concept proposed above is, it cannot happen except there is relative peace in the Niger Delta and North-east Nigeria which are currently boiling with violence.

Government has responded by threatening to unleash military force on Niger Delta militants, similar to what was applied against Boko Haram terrorists in the North-east.

Philip Hammond, British minister in charge of African affairs, on the sidelines of regional security meetings in Abuja last week, urged president Buhari to address the grievances of Niger Delta militants in a more holistic manner.

He said: “Buhari has got to show as a president from the North that he is not ignoring the Niger Delta, that he is engaging the challenges in the delta. With 70 per cent cut in the budget for militants training in 2016 appropriation bill, Mr. Hammond believes the militants have legitimate concerns that need to be resolved amicably, as opposed to the military action being contemplated.

The fiery Muslim cleric, Sheik Gumi in a recent media interview, has also, weighed in with his admonition: “How can they deal with militants in the first place, when they are holding the nation’s umbilical cord? You are fighting Boko Haram in the North, and you want to fight militants in creeks; you don’t fight on two fronts at the same time. That was one of the reasons why Adolf Hitler failed in in the Second World War. And l dare add, the reason George Bush and the GOP also lost power to the Democrats in the USA.

Sheik Gumi concluded that “The government should sit down with them (militants) and ask them the reasons for their agitation.”

Allocation of some oil wells to state governments and indigenes of the Niger Delta, is for instance, one of the demands, which l believe authorities may not be averse to, if properly structured.

All the perspectives captured above boil down to government’s inability to sort out the genuine grievances in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. This is why we seem to be going round and round in vicious circles trading crime and violence based on colorations of whoever is president in Nigeria.

Hence when a Southerner is occupying Aso Rock, the North antagonises and when a Northerner is at the helm of affairs, the South takes it as a job to rankle the leadership.

What is therefore required to avoid the looming human catastrophe and economic paralysis is a combination of both diplomacy and security enforcement to restore peace in the Niger Delta and the North-east Nigeria and thus particularly save Nigeria the imminent calamity of vandalisation of crude oil infrastructure that would compel cessation of crude oil export. The ball is now in government’s court.

Magnus Onyibe, a development strategist and Futurologist, wrote from US