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Opinions of Saturday, 7 June 2014

Columnist: Baafi, Alex Bossman

Juvenile Armed Robbery Poses a Threat to ...

Our Stability and Development

By Alex Bossman Baafi

In recent times newspapers and television networks across the country have been reporting increasing cases of armed robbery involving many juveniles under the age of eighteen which is quiet shocking and worrying. For example, “Boy 13, Nabbed for Armed Robbery” was one of the headlines on Wednesday June 4, 2014 edition of Daily Guide Newspaper paper. Other newspapers featured this Juvenile Armed Robbery case as well.

These days, there have been several reported cases of armed robbery across the country with many Juveniles involved. In my opinion this is a ticking time bomb. It is one of the economic, socio-political security issues posing very serious threat to our survival as a peaceful stable country. I believe strongly that our country’s development and stability will be undermined if we look on unconcerned to tackle this menace of Juvenile armed robbery which is creeping into society in our contemporary times.

Arguably, there are a lot of factors fueling armed robbery in our country; I believe the key among them is widespread unemployment.

In addition to the widespread unemployment and underemployment levels, we have youth unemployment and its concomitant under employment. Besides the graduate unemployment which has culminated in the formation of “Graduate Unemployment Association”. We also face the problem of mass unskilled youth who are also unemployed. This indeed makes our situation precarious.

The point is that, these youth that form the cream of our society are able-bodies. They are idle. Many are unskilled. There are virtually no job opportunities. Life then becomes hopeless and the future looks break and uncertain for them. Many of them become susceptible to crime and are likely to join the criminal gangs like armed robbers for that matter.

To tackle this cancer, government has the lead role to play to entice the private sector and the civil society to support the effort of curbing armed robbery in general and the juvenile one in particular.

Suggestions

The government should create jobs for the unemployed. That means the government should be innovative and creative. A typical example was the National Youth Employment Program which later Metamorphosed to GEEDA. The government should do the necessary restructuring exercise and bring GEEDA back in addition to similar employment modules. Such labor intensive programs including Tree Planting, which has environmental benefits in curbing desertification could create large number of jobs and also ensure economic growth.

The government could enhance the teaching of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in all schools including the rural ones. This is because it will go a long way to enhance job opportunities as it will allow the youth to receive and digest information required to increase their education and employment generating opportunities.

We should have a deliberate policy to support our Vocational Training, internship and apprenticeship program in our schools. Companies that create more space for students on attachment should be given some support in any kind or form. For example, Tax rebate, exemption or incentives for at least a period. Many organizations shut their doors to students on attachment, because it comes at a cost to them.

We should also consider introducing entrepreneurship and vocational skills courses early in our schools curricular because young people may need them in addition to vocational skills to start businesses and in the marketing of their products and services. Usually these courses are reserved for the Polytechnics and university students in our country.

The government again should initiate pro-poor programs targeting the poor and the marginalized in society. For example, improving the social infrastructure and conditions in the slum areas in the cities will have a positive social impact on the youth and also create jobs for them.

In addition, the government should understand that most of the employment generation to cater for the teaming masses of our unemployed Youth will come from the private sector and other forms of investments. Among other things, greater levels of transparency and accountability governance are required to attract investments into our country.

Above all, creating an enabling environment of macroeconomic stability, addressing high cost of doing business, fixing the inadequate infrastructure, curtailing excessive regulations and checking corruption will make our country very much attractive to investments and hence job creation for the people.

I must concede that there is no straight bullet to kill and eliminate armed robbery completely in any given society; the emerging juvenile armed robbery must be tackled from all fronts because it poses a catastrophic threat to the stability and development of our country.