While campaigning to be governor of the State of Osun, Rauf Aregbesola had realised that a large percentage of the well educated youths in the state were without jobs. He had, in fact, raised the issue during 2006 Workers Day celebrations as part of his concern for the state. Critics however dismissed his observation as mere campaign stunt.
But when he assumed office, the first three weeks were used to give the youth training on leadership and discipline so as to get them prepared for what they would do. There were no white collar jobs to give them as the entire state civil servants were not up to 20,000.
Aregbesola, thus decided to form the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O’YES) cadets. OYES is a revolving volunteer scheme designed to eliminate the frustration and paralyzing effect of unacceptably high and seemingly intractable youth unemployment pervasive in the state and country at large. It aims at creating a bridge to employment by equipping as many young men and women with positive work ethics and culture, self sustenance, resourcefulness and respect for the environment. It is designed to develop youths with character and competence.
OYES corps are deployed to productive services in identified areas of socio-economic life and paid a basic allowance to help cover basic needs. They are also smartly kitted for group identity and high morale.
Aregbesola announced recently that the State Government had been committing about N200 million to payment of allowances for the over 20,000 youths engaged in the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O’YES) and commended the Federal Government for replicating the model at the federal level through the Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO).
“It is most comforting for me to note that our tiny State of Osun has been able to contribute something meaningful to our national development effort. The idea of youth employment that has now snowballed into a national programme was conceived as a pragmatic approach to tackling the chronic and dangerous problem of unemployment among our youths in the state.
“Happily, O’YES became a very effective mechanism of massive public sector employment that offered not just income, but great hope for the youths that are absorbed into the scheme. Through the scheme alone, N200 million is injected into the economy of Osun every month as allowances for the cadets which naturally are accompanied by their multiplier effects.
Aregbesola remarked that the success of the programme attracted the attention of the World Bank, which studied it and certified it to be a viable and sustainable solution to the problem of youth unemployment in Nigeria and consequently recommended it to the Federal Government and other States in the country.
“Given the success recorded by the O’YES initiative the World Bank, studied it and certified it to be a viable and sustainable solution to the problem of youth unemployment in Nigeria and consequently recommended it to the Federal Government and other States in the country”, the governor stated. The result, he said, is the Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO) that was launched last week in Abuja
Aregbesola said O’YES has helped the state to manage unemployment rate to a considerable manner stressing that according to the National Bureau of Statistics publication, Osun has the least rate of unemployment.
“And I want to believe it is not unconnected with the OYES. My swan song has always been that if the government particularly Federal Government, is interested in curbing youth unemployment or drastically reduce it, it is very simple. I am quite happy about this World Bank and Federal Ministry of Finance for the YESSO scheme. It is quite commendable.
“But it is still a scratch on the surface. When you consider the fact that the number of youths who are in their peak of productivity compared to the number they are talking about is quite low, then something more drastic has to be done.
“My suggestion is simple, let the federal government match each state’s effort at youth empowerment scheme one on one; it will go a long way in reducing youth unemployment and even eliminating all the security threats which is indeed a manifestation of youth unemployment.
“Youth, for want of other things to do are restive and uncontrollable and easy to be manipulated for any vice to be committed. So if federal government can say that for every youth that is engaged by any state government, they will match it with one it will go a long way in reducing, if not eliminating youth unemployment”, he observed.
Aregbesola believes that if the federal government can match the efforts of states at job creation, it would check youth unemployment in the country. He said; “if the Federal Government matches each state’s effort at youth empowerment scheme one on one, it will go a long way in reducing youth unemployment and even eliminating all the security threats which is indeed a manifestation of youth unemployment.”
According to Aregbesola, federal government can really help in eliminating the scourge of unemployment by matching the states. “With that nobody can accuse you of favouring one state over the other. If the state employs or empowers 1,000 let the federal government also employ or empower 1,000. If the state can do 10,000 or 100,000 let the Federal Government match it with the same 10,000 or 100,000 and it is easier for federal government to do it”, he argued.
The governor stated that he is miffed, disturbed and worried by the spate and scale of insecurity in Nigeria, arguing that there can’t be a solution outside providing something for the youth.
He noted that the energy, vibrancy and creative talents that abound in young people are vital ingredients of development that only need to be properly channelled into productive engagement.
He suggested that it is a matter of governance imperative that youths must be kept positively engaged by any government that is serious about the task of social and economic development. “Keeping young people meaningfully engaged is not only a sound economic policy; it is a sensible approach to good governance. For no effective or successful governance can take place where there is rampant unemployment among the youth”, the governor stated.
Using his state as an example of government intervention in youth empowerment, Aregbesola said the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (O’YES) became a very effective mechanism of massive public sector employment that offered not only income but great hope for the youths that are absorbed into the scheme.
He specifically described the move by the Federal Government as a worthy cause deserving all stakeholders’ support in view of the achievements recorded by his state in its efforts to create jobs for youths.
He said: “the launching of the YESSO programme is a forward leap for us as a nation in our concerted drive to surmount the scourge of youth unemployment in the country”.