Bassey Inyang in Calabar
Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, has warned that any further extension of lockdown of the country in response to the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic will spell doom for the country.
He said any further extension of the lockdown would give rise to uncontrollable youth restiveness, adding that it was better to lockout than lockdown.
The governor spoke at the Industrial Park, Calabar.
Ayade said the recruitment of 8,000 youths was targeted at avoiding social tension in view of the harsh economic impact created by COVID 19.
He added: “With prices of oil falling, locking out is far better than locking down because another two weeks of lockdown will find this country under siege by young people. There is no way you can hold down these young energies for too long.
“It is demographic, it is statistics. Sixty Five per cent of the population is below the age of 35 and the virus itself does not have penetrative force in such a demography and that is what we have to recognise as a country”
The governor explained that the difference in climate conditions between the west and Africa was the reason the pandemic is ravaging that part of the world.
“Our demography is different from the west. Our climatic conditions are different. If you take the wind speed, the wind direction, sun intensity, radiation and the factors that govern the movement of a virus, ours is a situation that makes it difficult to spread with the speed it is spreading in the western world.
“So, our response strategy should reflect our environmental sensitivity. May be what COVID 19 will eventually do is to sharpen the consciousness of young people to come together. That will be very dangerous and so, to nip that in the bud, we have to find jobs for them because sincerely, that is the provision in the constitution. Section 14 sub section 2 says the welfare and security of the people are the primary essence of government”
The Cross River state governor disclosed that industries established by his administration will absorb the youths and get them engaged.
“I have to get the young people off the street, I need to get them engaged. I need to get them to survive and that is the essence of government.”
He explained that the urgency of the situation has forced his administration to slow down on major projects: “At this time, major projects have to slow down and we have to switch attention to the young people who for no fault of theirs are out of school.”
The governor advocated channelling donations to the COVID 19 campaign to job creation. “If you have international support of N21 billion, you have to find how to use it to create jobs and not how to use it on COVID 19 campaign because it will end one day,” he said.