By: Inuwa Bwala
For over 20 years, lack of deliberate investment in the youths have compelled mist of them to seek for means of survival. The luckier ones had found their ways out, while the less lucky ones have become easy tools for recruitment into crime or political thuggery.
By whatever name they were known, thuggery has been their stock in trade. Manipulating them as cannon fodders or using them as shields against rival thugs was a vougue amongst politicians in Borno state.
Most politicians had their private thugs, who accompany them virtually every where: facilitating their passages at public functions or intimidating perceived opponents. Those who were not attached to particular politicians were always available for hire.
Infact, politics became the habitation for jobless youths, most of whom lack skills to be gainfully self employed or hired by the Government or the private sector.
At a point, the fear of political thugs who could embarrass any public officer at occasions or go after perceived political foes of their paymasters was the begging of wisdom.
Rightly or wrongly, there was a narrative on the genesis of Boko Haram, to the effect that, greater number of the foot soldiers metamorphosed from political thugs, popularly known in Borno as ECOMOG.
Before the advent of this administration and to a large extent the previous one, political thugs or ECOMOG as they were known held the government to a ransom, whereby political office holder pay royalties to remain safe or move about unhindered.
It was perhaps the most pleasing piece of news to most public officers, when Governor Babagana Umara Zulum announced his administration’s zero tolerance for thuggery and political violence.
Going ahead to mop up the 200 youths from the streets of Maiduguri and Jere and engaging them as trainees for various skills was however a masterstrock.
The climax of it all was the provision of start up capitals, ranging from half a million Naira to two million Naira for each one of them to start their own businesses.
For those who might have tested the nuisance of political thugs, taking 200 of them off the streets and putting them into productive ventures must have been the biggest relief thus far.
Seeing the faces of those I have known over the years as thugs or political urchins, I could not help commending the Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development in Borno State, Comrade Saina Buba, for painstakingly identifying each of the youths and bringing them forth, to reap from their over twenty years of aimless wandering and destructive misadventures.
Above all, Governor Babagana Umara Zulum may have found the antidote to youth restiveness and vulnerability to crime and criminality, by this singular move.
I stand to be corrected, by I believe Zulum’s initiative is the first in the region, aimed at bringing out Gold out of cast away brass.
With this development, youths from other areas have been given hopes that, they could still be useful to the society afterall: the only precondition is for them to renounce the old trade and embrace the new vision introduced by Professor Babagana Umara Zulum.