The governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, in an interview with Premium Times touched the root cause of the Boko Haram insurgency in northeastern Nigeria.
PT: What are you doing to ensure normalcy is restored and what is the takeaway from your meeting with the President?
…By and large, we must also address the root causes of the Boko Haram insurgency which is not limited to endemic poverty, pervasive illiteracy, financial and economic hardship, unemployment, environmental degradation, drug abuse among others. We must ensure our youths are employed…
Borno state has a literacy rate of 23% (sure, well ahead Yobe state which has 7.2%) indicating that leaders failed a generation of young people. Happy the governor has identified what I have called the gray lizard problem: “In Nigeria, we do not just have black swan. We have gray lizard. It is a high impact risk, that is highly probable and evidently visible but totally, widely and irresponsibly ignored. The massive youth unemployment in Nigeria is a gray lizard. Governments see it daily but it is totally ignored.” Now, to secure the next generation, human capital investment must follow.
Like President Buhari whose state, Katsina state, has a literacy rate of 10%, these leaders must invest in young people over the incessant white elephant projects. Katsina does not necessarily need a transport university, Katsina does not necessarily need an army university, Katsina does not necessarily need all those big cutting-tape events; simply, Katsina, Borno and most parts of northern Nigeria need 10x better teachers and schools (primary and secondary) to redesign the future of our next generation. How can you have out of every 100 twenty-year olds, only 7 can read and write, and yet you are wasting time building physical infrastructures the other 93 cannot benefit from?