The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has warned that Nigeria may not escape another citizens’ restiveness in the mode of #EndSARS protest if it failed to effectively address the issue of youth unemployment and make practical steps in its national budget to meaningfully engage the youths.
The Senate President gave the warning as he formally declared opened the 2021 budget defence for the Ministry of Agriculture on Monday.
Recounting the events of #EndSARS, Lawan said while some youths genuinely expressed their anger in the recent #EndSARS protest, and successfully gained the government’s attention. He warned that a good number of them who may not have had the opportunity to vent their anger are in the rural areas; pointing out that there was an urgent need to meet their needs.
The Senate President advised that there was a need to be more practical with budgetary allocations for the Ministry of Agriculture to create jobs for many of the youths.
“Let’s meet them where they are and many of them are in the rural areas. Let’s give them what we can and keep them in the rural areas and make their lives productive.
“On our part, we are going to be accountable. We escaped this on (#EndSARS Protest); the other one is inescapable,” he said.
Lawan advised the government to take the agriculture sector more seriously in its efforts to diversify the economy from oil, stressing that the sector was enough to finance the national budget.
“I have few engagements with the ministry recently but let me say this that this sector and without any prejudice is enough for the economy; something oil has not been able to do. But why haven’t we been able to do so.”
Lawan said oil can provide only a few white-collar jobs, but Agriculture has the capacity to provide jobs for everybody if properly handled and with support from the private sector.
“We need to be practical. Other countries have made it through this sector. Anytime we talk about diversification the first thing we mention is agriculture.
“Oil cannot give jobs to the youth only a few mostly white collar. This sector can give everybody a job and give us the opportunity for a better life”.
The Ministry of Agriculture has a total budget size of N139 billion; showing a slight increase from that of last year.
Speaking, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Abdullahi Adamu, said the budget remains abysmally low, calling on the government to come up with policies that will stimulate the agriculture revolution.
“I enjoin you to build long lasting structure that will ensure we grow what we eat and we eat what we grow,” he said.
Even when the Minister of Agriculture admitted that the current budgetary allocations for the sector have been meagre, he said the sector recorded meaningful progress in 2020 and remains one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country.