Activist and Multimedia journalist, Comfort Mussa has expressed the need for government initiatives for the youth to be extended into the hinterlands, to prevent rural exodus and its adverse effects. The journalist with over 15 years of experience in reporting and advocacy for women and minorities, shared insights on the country’s underdevelopment and rural exodus problem on national TV’s Press Hour show.
Her remarks were in reaction to the head of state’s Youth Day address where he cited among others, promises of youth employment and support. “I will, as in the past, prioritize the development of our educational system, with further emphasis on prefesionalisation,” the head of state had promised.
This drive like other initiatives put in place by the Ministry of Youth Affairs through its agencies, Comfort Musa explained, fails to impact those in the hinterlands. “Because of lack of basic social amenities, lack of roads lack of electricity. They can’t even hear about it talk less of participating or benefitting from… Yes I listened to the speech and I’m happy promises were made but then it left me with a question: ‘how many youths will actually benefit from these things?’” Comfort Musa quizzed.
The situation, she remarked, is worse than it actually looks, with communities beyond major towns and regional capitals having a glaring lack social amenities. The lack of roads, internet connection, proper healthcare, education and a host of other necessities, to her, make the areas less desirable and strengthens the argument for rural exodus by youths seeking survival.
“For most of these youths,” she noted, “the only opportunity they are looking for, is that to leave the village and go to town and this is not the kind of future we want to create for Cameroonian youths. We want Cameroonian youths to have access to this kind of information, to training and employment wherever they may be so we are not getting the rural exodus we have.”
The promises were to her, many and tasteful, yet, out of reach of the average Cameroonian youth. “Every youth in town is looking for the next ride out. Go to the train station here in Yaoundé and you will see how many youths keep coming from the northern regions; sometimes without a plan, sometimes without knowledge of where they will sleep,” she added. “They come and are sleeping in the streets because of lack of basic social services… The buildings may be there but are the services actually run?”
Comfort Musa who too is Executive Director of SisterSpeak237 Founder – an organisation that amplifies the voices of women and minority groups – did not fail to laud Cameroonian youth for their ingenuity and creativity. Their entrepreneurial spirit being second to none, she remarked that their primary challenge remains the unfavourable terrain for exploring their full potentials.
“You need to visit the professional schools in Cameroon when they are having their defense projects. Youths have amazing ideas… where does it end? In their school libraries. The youths have ideas I believe so but in which environment are these youths found?” she quipped.
The corruption cankerworm
While addressing youths on the eve of February 11, President Paul Biya also announced plans to revitalize and diversify the economy, to boost youth employment. But even this, the multimedia journalist, is a vain cause if youths cannot get the adequate documentation too access these opportunities.
“To get a card that says you are a Cameroonian, is what you need to access some of these [youth support] programs. You need to bring your ID card. Most youths cannot get it in time and for them to get it you need to know someone, sometimes someone who is older asking a youth ‘if you bring a thousand or two thousand I may get it to you faster’” she declared.
The corruption worm already evident, she warned, is eating deeper and is fast altering what the ideal Cameroonian identity should be.
“If a youth has to bend corners to get his identity,” she questioned, “how will he thrive without that mind-set that needs to bend corners throughout? … This is what is destroying our youths because they learn it from the adults who collect bribes from 18-year-old kids to give them ID cards? Adults and you want these same adults to teach them about morality? How?”
Poise News Desk