An Appropriate Response

2,000 jobs handy! That is the good news announced last Thursday in Maroua by the Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi for youths in the various areas affected by the current Boko Haram insurgency.

To stress the importance and significance of this government gesture, Mr. Djoumessi brought along with him two other cabinet colleagues – the Minister for Employment and Vocational Training, Mr. Zacharie Perevet and that of Public Contracts, Mr. Abba Sadou. One readily sees in the presence of these other Ministers, the resolution and effectiveness of addressing an urgent employment problem -with regard to the Minister of Employment – and the effective implementation of programmed projects, with regard to the presence of the Minister for Public Contracts.

Two thousand jobs may be too few if one considers the overall unemployment situation of the country and the daunting task of getting youths have something to do to ensure their better future. But the situation in the northern Regions of the country and, more especially in the Far-North is very disturbing because of the imposed war by the obscurantist Boko Haram sect which has set up shop in numerous villages and even urban centres in this part of the country.

The modus operandi of the sect is such that youths can never be stable when the sect members are around and their violent and mass killing instincts are not of a nature to stay on each time their presence is signalled in a locality. For understandable reasons, many youths have been forced to flee for their dear lives from their initial places of abode to safer locations, creating new theatres of strife among which are the absence of employment or other sources of life sustenance. For youths of school-going age, the situation is even more calamitous because, in countless cases, schools have been destroyed with untold savagery, leading school children to flee and many who are already in school cannot attend classes, live in extreme precariousness.

The problem is not only about attending school. The Boko Haram insurgency came, as it were, to simply add salt to the injury of a very difficult socio-economic environment. Many youths of the area, because of the generalized apathy towards school, tended to turn to such informal jobs as transportation by motorbikes, itinerant trade and other forms of menial jobs usually at the borders. But the arrival of Boko Haram has dismantled this form of local organization.

Many youths either flee or are lured into the sect by offers, sometimes so generous that the choice to join them and eventually turn against the fatherland, in spite of themselves, is quickly made. The government decision to provide these jobs is therefore, an appropriate and timely response to the situation created by Boko Haram, as an attractive alternative to encourage these unemployed youths to turn away from the lure of Boko Haram. The initiative, launched last Thursday is within the framework of the special programme for urban jobs, has every reason to deliver immediate results because it is pegged on two successful experiments carried out in Bandjoun and Bafia towns.

The 2000 jobs initiative is targeting some 20 localities with the first phase beginning in seven council areas (Maroua I, II and III, Kousseri, Mora, Mokolo and Mogode with about 382 direct jobs envisaged and for which a total of some FCFA 554 500 000 will be injected into the local economy. The target is unemployed youths who will have to take up jobs in labour-intensive activities such as urban road construction and repairs and other urban chores. Even beyond being an appropriate response to the employment situation in this crisis context, the 2000 job initiative is expected to have a psychological effect as many youths will now see the effectiveness of a sedentary life and steer away from the informal activity they are so often stuck to.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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