As Ajayi Crowther University graduates 2,851 students
Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Dr Wole Olanipekun, has stated that no nation of the world can be at peace when its youthful population are unemployed.

Olanipekun stated this on Friday during the 12th and 13th convocation ceremonies of the institution held at the university campus in Oyo State.

This is just as the institution is conferred undergraduate, postgraduate and diploma degrees on 2,851 students including 85 who finished with first class honours who graduated from the school in the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 academic sessions.

The former president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) noted that some of the many graduates produced by universities are only joining those who are already roaming the streets without a job.

He further stated that the high unemployment rate casts doubts on the hope that youths who are often regarded as the future of Nigeria will constitute the bedrock of such a future.

Olanipekun warned that a situation where youths and their able-bodied parents are unemployed portends a great danger to the country, he urged the government to address the worrisome situation before these youths transfer aggression against not just the system but also the citizens.

He advised the graduating students to “use their brains and wits to turn themselves into great and large employers of labour, through well nurtured and painstakingly contrived enterprises,” adding that the world is no longer over-concentrating on white-collar jobs.

Olanipekun, in his address, said in part: “Most of these graduates (first class or otherwise) being produced by our universities on regular basis and intervals join the teeming crowd in the unemployment market, roaming the streets, aimlessly and frustratingly, searching for jobs which are not in view, and which are not being created or provided by the government!

“Yet, governments at all strata in Nigeria surprisingly appear not to be bothered about the dangers latent and inherent in youth unemployment in the country.

“It is often said and bandied that the youths constitute the future of any nation, Nigeria inclusive. How then can unemployed youths who waste their formative years, thus becoming despondent and dejected constitute the bedrock of the future of any nation?

“The outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic has not helped matters in the last two years or thereabout; rather, it has compounded the conundrum as a large number of those who were hitherto in gainful employment have been laid off. Factories and industries are folding up while governments are shrinking employment opportunities and spaces.

“By a data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in August 2020, the unemployment rate in Nigeria rose to 27.1% in the second quarter of 2020, translating to an alarming increase from 23.1% in the third quarter of 2018.

“The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige also raised the alarm that the unemployment rate in Nigeria would reach a crescendo percentage of 33.5% by the end of 2020. We are inching towards the end of 2021 and any accurate data, honestly and unbiasedly generated, would put the unemployment rate at not less than 40% as at now.

“Added to this quagmire is the glaring and staring fact that most of the parents of these unemployed youths (who are in their 50s or early 60s) are also out of jobs, meaning that most of the youths and their middle-aged parents are unemployed.

“This also translates to the natural fact that both able-bodied youths and their educated, agile and strong parents are out of jobs; they are frustrated and carry angst against not just the system, but also innocent co-citizens who they perceive as oppressors.

“To me, there is an imminent danger ahead unless we realistically address this troubling and worrisome situation. No nation can be at peace with itself when both its teeming youths and middle-aged population are wandering and roaming aimlessly in the unemployment market. There is much-transferred malice and aggression arising from this pitiable scenario.

“While Nigerian youths are leaving the country in droves, in search of the proverbial Golden Fleece, the fact remains that it is only a tiny proportion of them that can be accommodated in foreign countries, while the majority of them would be here with us in Nigeria, reminding us of the reality of our predicament. At this stage, we would also be pretending to be sleeping, but with our two eyes open.”

The vice-chancellor of the institution, Professor Timothy Adebayo, said he is optimistic that the graduands will contribute meaningfully to the social and human developments of the country.

“Though unemployment and limited career opportunities for graduates continue to be a big concern for all the stakeholders, our graduates have been equipped with the relevant skills, and we trust that they are competent, and can find their feet in the globally-competitive employment-search markets,” he said.

Prof Adebayo further urged the graduands to look for opportunities beyond their disciplinary boundaries, adding that “what you received here is education. Education humanizes and redeems the mind.

“Irrespective of your disciplines, you have been trained to think productively and you are mentally emancipated to surmount challenges that may confront you in your world.”

Simon Akinteye emerged overall best graduating student for the 2019/2020 session while Femicit Dala emerged overall best for the 2020/2021 session.

Earlier, the pro-chancellor and the vice-chancellor led other principal officers of the institution and leaders of the Church of Nigerian (Anglican Communion) who are the owners of the school to commission projects sited on the campus. They include laboratories, postgraduate hostel, bakery, bursar and registrar’s lodges and a welcome centre for parents and students.