The 2021 budget should ensure that employment opportunities are provided for Nigerian youth, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said on Monday.
He made the call at the National Assembly when the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, appeared before the Senate committee on agriculture to defend the ministry’s 2021 budget.
Providing job opportunities for the youth will help avert another protest in the country, he said, referring to the #EndSARS protest which was held in many parts of the country in October.
The protest, which was also held in many cities outside Nigeria, lasted for about two weeks. Nigerian youth had trooped out to demand an end to police brutality as well as demand good governance in the country.
“I believe that we need to not only look at what we did in 2020 but approach 2021 in a very practical way. Recently we had protests by some of our youths, some of them very genuine. They were seeking the attention of leaders and they got the attention.
“So our budget especially for 2021 should be mindful of what we do to provide employment opportunities for these youths. They demonstrated, they protested because they could do so. There are so many other people who may not be youthful but are also in the same need but they didn’t protest, let’s meet them where they are, we don’t want to wait until they also start to grumble or protest we should be proactive, we should reach them and they are in the rural areas.
“So we should meet them there, give them what we can within the purview of our resources and keep them there to lead a productive life and that is the only way that we can make a difference in the lives of the people,” Mr Lawan said in his remarks.
The lawmaker also emphasised the need to domesticate the Nigerian economy and the agricultural sector in particular.
Crude oil, he said, cannot give jobs to the youths but the agricultural sector “can give everybody a job from the president to the last man or woman in the country and has all the potential to create the needed wealth.”
Past and present govts to blame
On his part, the deputy Senate minority leader, Emmanuel Bwacha, blamed past and present leaders for failing to show commitment to the nation’s agricultural sector.
“…I am talking about people that have been in office from 1999 till date. All of us have failed because this statement made under the African Union was made under the administration of a farmer. Implementation would have been noticed. Not even one national budget that we have been able to capture seven per cent.
“…I am worried because some people will blame the government from 1999 till date. I mention this because both the President and Ministers who have served over the years have not been able to show genuine commitment because we pay lip-service in the agricultural sector.”The lawmaker faulted leaders for making promises publicly and doing otherwise later.
The minister was thereafter, asked to meet with the minister of education, Adamu Adamu, over the provision of funds for the Federal University of Agriculture, Zuru-Kebbi project.