Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal Sodique Abubakar has reiterated the commitment of the federal government to empower the youths across the country through agriculture, as a way of addressing youth unemployment and insecurity in Nigeria.
The Air Force chieftain said, “The empowerment of youths is a potential for accelerating economic growth and making the result more sustainable.”
Abubakar disclosed this in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital during the official launch of Barracks Youths Empowerment through Agriculture Mobility Command Chapter, held at 203 MAG in the city recently.
According to him, “You will agree with me that the present insecurity in the country is largely caused by youths’ unemployment be it in the North-east or in the Niger Delta region of the country.
He said “Youths have been largely unemployed, and if the agriculture is keyed into, you will see that a lot of youths will be involved and as the saying goes that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, when youths are engaged falsely, they are not idle, they get engaged as they earn money, add values to their lives and the lives of their families.”
The Chief of the Air Staff, who was represented by the Director Standard and Evaluation of Nigeria Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Saliu Balariba, added that, “The empowerment of youths is therefore not luxury, rather it is an untapped potential in the acceleration of Nigeria’s economic growth and Social development.”
Abubakar stressed that, “”he inauguration that we are witnessing today is the first phase of the programme, training the youths in various agricultural skills will be the next phase, which will be followed by empowerment through financial assistance by government agencies.”
He noted that, “Keeping our youths gainfully engaged will no doubt bring rates to the barest minimum which will in turn impact positively on the overall security of the nation. One of the topmost priorities of the federal government is to diversify our economy in order to reinforce the culture of self-reliance.
“On top of that agenda is agriculture, which is key to ensuring not only food security, but also the overall security of any country,” he added.
The Chief of the Air Staff however lauded the partners in the laudable project notably the National Centre for Agriculture Mechanisation NCAM, Bank of Agriculture and Cooperative Society of Nigeria.
Youth unemployment has been identified as a major cause for the upsurge in crimes and kidnappings across the country, with millions of unemployed graduates thrown into the job market with no available jobs.
A former Head of State once described the youth unemployment scenario as a dry powder keg of dynamite, which is capable of blowing up at any moment and throwing the entire country into flames, if urgent steps are not taken by various governments at all levels to address the huge problem.
The immediate past administration tried in various ways and initiatives to employ youths gainfully, and the current administration has also made employment one of its top priorities, after corruption and insecurity.
Analysts believe the renewed focus on agriculture by the federal government is a viable way of tackling unemployment in the country, especially among the youths, who can be lured to the farms where good basic infrastructure, amenities and incentives are put in place to engage the youths in profitable agriculture, with focus on agro-processing and export.