OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH EMPOWERMENT THROUGH ARTS IN OJU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF BENUE STATE, NIGERIA
Youth unemployment has been a major problem in many developing countries of the world. This has resulted to many social pathetical and economic problems such as prostitution, trafficking in persons, ritual killings, rural-urban drift, criminal activities and crises in these countries including Nigeria. Successive governments in Nigeria have initiated various programmes targeted at youths to better their conditions. These empowerment programmes failed due to one reason or the other. The study therefore sought to assess how youth empowerment can be achieved through indigenous arts and art-related trade in Oju Local Government Area of Benue state. Simple random sampling techniques were used in selecting the sample. The research instruments used were structured questionnaires distributed to 150 youths sampled for the study. The study revealed that over 70% of the respondents had a maximum of senior secondary school certificate or its equivalent. The study also revealed the practice of the following arts in the local government, ceramics, sculpture, textile weaving, carving, grass weaving among others as major areas of arts practical in the area. It also revealed youths readiness to engage themselves on those arts as a way of empowering themselves. The study further shows that the arts and art-related trades identified were also economically viable and played greater role in increasing their daily income, savings, assets and general well being than when they were not engaged in those area. It is therefore recommended that government, NGOs and Community leaders should collaborate and encourage the youths to further their studies above secondary level. They should also develop the ceramic and pottery works in Ibilla Alukpo of Igede Central Distric as well as establishing a technical or vocational school to train the youths in the area.