The rising trend of crime and insecurity across the country is cause for concern, just as the extent to which criminals will go can be frightening.

Events of the past few weeks, including the kidnapping of over 100 pupils from a school in the North and the gruesome murder of soldiers and policemen in the Niger Delta, bear testimony to this.

Reports of terrorism, armed insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, murder, communal clashes, oil theft, piracy, drug, and human trafficking, and cybercrimes, among others, have become run of the mill.

The Islamic insurgency perpetrated by the Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) groups in northern-eastern Nigeria over the years has been costly in terms of loss of lives, loss of livelihood, displacement of citizens, cost of military operations, loss of faith in government and governance and loss of face to the Nigerian state, to mention but a few.

Vice President Kassim Shettima has recently attributed the current insecurity in parts of the country to poverty and unemployment and stressed the need to improve governance in the country.

It would appear that the Vice President is quite correct, as it is most unlikely that gainfully employed people with attainable hopes and dreams would hazard engaging in such wanton and dangerous enterprise.

It is mostly the hopeless who take such risks. And then hopelessness mainly stems from lack of the capacity to contend with the challenges of the present and the future, food, housing, healthcare, providing for a family and so forth. And the idle mind, as they say, is the devil’s workshop. So, hordes of uneducated, unskilled youth slide into the cesspit of crime and other antisocial conduct and are at the beck and call of the lords of the underworld, making the lives of the more fortunate and the up and doing a living nightmare.

Along these lines Nigeria’s Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman has been lamenting the alarming statistic of out of school children in the country and the dark implications for the present and future of our nation if the problem is left unchecked.

According Professor Mamman, research now indicates that Nigeria accounts for one of every five out-of-school children in the world and 45 per cent of out-of-school children in West Africa.

He says this ranking was disturbing and unacceptable for a country regarded as Africa’s largest economy.

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“One of the implications is that Nigeria will constantly produce miscreants who are ready tools in the hands of criminal gangs,” the minister said.

“Stemming the tide of out-of-school children is a task that this government seeks to accomplish. This is because we are mindful of the spiral effects of having a large number of uneducated populations.”

Latest data from UNESCO in partnership with the Global Education and Monitoring Report put Nigeria’s out-of-school children at 20.2 million, doubling the 10.5 million figures quoted for decades.

UNICEF adds that one in three children in Nigeria is out of school, totalling 10.2 million at the primary level, and 8.1 million at the junior secondary school level. It said one in every five out-of-school children in the world is in Nigeria.

If unchecked, these numbers promise to provide the feedstock for crime and turmoil in the future.

What is required now is a serious and well thought out plan to deal with this ticking time bomb, the outcome of which is already manifesting in the crime and lawlessness chronicled above.

Just a fortnight ago in Abuja, Abiola Arogundade, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Technical Vocation and Entrepreneurship Education, said the Federal Government had mapped out a plan aimed at significantly reducing the number of Nigerians (133 million) living below the poverty line by training them in artisanal skills.

Arogundade said initiative, working in collaboration with various countries, as well as educational and financial institutions around Nigeria, would expose the beneficiaries to artisanal skills that would make them self-reliant and a source of foreign exchange earnings for the country.

We need to fast-track on a serious plan.