Mr. Nweke, a former Minister of Information, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES in an interview, said the high level of insecurity and unemployment in the country are caused by the failure of government to address the core needs of the citizenry.
He noted that the quality of education in Nigeria does not offer the needed skills for young people to function in a technologically-driven world.
Besides, Mr. Nweke argued that only a healthy and educated population can contribute to national growth and development.
In an emotion-laden voice Mr. Nweke said, “As a child, I watched as the seeds of Boko Haram were sown in Maiduguri, where I grew up. As we were taken to school every day, we saw the kids sitting under trees being indoctrinated.
“As we returned from school in the afternoon, we saw the same children at the roundabouts, begging for alms and as we went to catechism in the evening, we found them back under the trees receiving their own religious studies.
“Majority of them did not attend any formal school. Today, they have become the cause of insurgency to the nation; a nation that failed them.”
He insisted that leaders of Nigeria at all levels failed millions of children and young people by paying lip service to education, healthcare and social welfare.
Unless the country deliberately creates workable educational, healthcare and welfare policies and implement them consistently, insecurity, ignorance, poverty and disease will continue, he said.
The former minister of information said it was wrong for the government to classify education and healthcare as social issues, noting that they were core to attaining national growth and development.
He argued, “No country can develop by accident. Development philosophy, development strategy, implementation of programmes and policies of government must be deliberate and has to be consistent and sustained.
“Education and health should not be classified as social services, these are not social services. These are core economic issues that drive development.
“Why do you classify them as social? How can we expect to make progress without an educated and skilled populace? How can we make progress without a healthy populace?
“If you have an educated but unhealthy population, you cannot make progress and when you are healthy and uneducated, you cannot make progress.
“Genuine progress is driven by education and effective healthcare. That’s just the truth of the matter. These are the two things that drive economic development and human progress.”
Mr. Nweke therefore called on the government to consciously educate its citizenry, impart skills in them and make them healthy.
He drew attention of the government to its Ghanaian counterpart which has a Ministry of Children’s Affairs, adding that that government understands the concept of sustainable and wholesome development.
He said, “Ghana has a Ministry for Children’s Affairs; it underscores the fact that they understand the concept of sustainable and wholesome development.
“They understand that from the point of conception to nursing and other phases of a child’s life; is when the life of a human being can be nurtured.
“That is when countries begin to prepare their people to be responsible citizens and lay the foundation for their education and health and overall well-being.”
This post is supported by the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, funded by DFID and managed by a consortium led by the British Council