High rate of unemployment among the youth is Nigeria’s biggest challenge, the President, American University of Nigeria (AUN), Dr. Margee Ensign, said at the weekend.
She noted that with the increase in the size of the country’s population, Nigeria would find it difficult to provide jobs for over 200 million young people who will live in it by 2045.
Dr. Ensign, who said this in Abuja at the ninth Annual Alumni Career Fair for students of the institution, advised the Federal Government to train its citizens on how to create jobs in order to overcome unemployment challenges.
She said: “You are growing so rapidly. You are doubling every 26 years. Your biggest challenge in Nigeria is to create employment for the 200 million young people who will live in your country by 2045.
“You have 100 million right now. How many are out of work? Our job is not only to train them to find jobs but to create companies that are creating employment. That is what they do in the school of business and entrepreneurship.
“We have got a bunch of kids who are only a year ago out of school are here hiring our students. That is what has to happen in Nigeria. It is a big national challenge to have over 70 million out of jobs in Nigeria.”
Ensign said that the focus of AUN is to give students education that enables them to find and create jobs.
“It is really important at AUN we give them the education that gives them the knowledge, skills and even the attitude that they need find jobs and then create employment.
“AUN is a development university and it is probably pretty abstract to you guys. Every students at AUN is in a class that exposes them to the hardest problem your country is facing, whether it is poor health, illiteracy, they have to go out to the community.
“Our students live in a different world than we live in, many of the jobs that they are going to have we don’t even know the name yet. To me it is not just important to look for employment; it is starting your own,” Dr. Ensign said.
Earlier, the Dean, School of Law of the university, Professor Oladejo Olowu, told journalists that the institution had concluded plans to establish a gender law programme that would educate students as well as Nigerians on gender-based legal issues.
The University, which is the first to introduce the course, plans to produce lawyers that study gender law.
Olowu said that the new course would help to educate Nigerians on the need to confront the orthodoxies and conservative ideas that had held the society for long.
“The Programme is coming as a means of correcting the abnormalities of the past in the gender differences and the scandal towards the gender bill by Nigerian lawmakers,” he said.
“In this country, you only hear lawyers speaking about gender equality, but no lawyer in Nigeria went through a law programme that has gender law as component. That is why we have to start the programme in August, with 100 students.
“I want to say that there is something else we are doing that is extraordinary. You know that developments in this country are left for economists, development theorists and policy analysts. It has never been a subject for law schools in Nigeria. For the first time in this country, a law programme is having law society and development as a module. That is something worthy of celebrating.
“What we are doing at AUN, Yola is to correct the abnormalities of the past and fill the missing gap. The good thing about the leadership we have is that we were all taught and groomed in the Nigerian legal system. We went abroad and acquired comparative benefits in the study and applications of law, which is what we have brought together in a form of multicultural ideas.
“And that is why we have been able to do things that have never been heard of in Nigeria. Even National Universities Commission agrees that we are doing something that is groundbreaking,” he added