Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja with agency report
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said the current hardship is not the making of the present administration, but restated commitment to end the hardship.
The minister spoke yesterday in Abuja at the special town hall meeting for youths held at the presidential villa.
Mohammed, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said the government “is unrelenting in its efforts to ease the hardship in the land, especially youth unemployment.”
He said the hardship was “brought about by years of poor or lack of planning, profligacy, mismanagement of funds, massive corruption and lack of investment in social programmes.”
To move the nation out of the situation, he appealed for “undiluted support’’ from Nigerians.
The minister said the federal government’s massive investment in social programmes will help accelerate the process of job creation, especially for the youths.
He said the government placed premium on youth empowerment, youth development and youth engagement, hence the decision to organise the town hall meeting specifically for them.
The minister said the administration was investing massively in the social investment programmes that would benefit the youths.
He listed the programmes as the N-Power volunteer Scheme and the N-Power Job Creation Programme, among others that would provide loans for traders and artisans.
Mohammed added that the home-grown school feeding programme, the conditional cash transfers to the most vulnerable members of the society and the family homes fund, a social housing scheme, were also for youths.
He said his ministry was leveraging on the creative industry, which is youth-driven, to create
jobs and unleash the huge potential of the youths.
The minister said the imminent transition from analogue to digital broadcasting would create one million jobs in three years, with most of those jobs going to the youths.
Also speaking at the town hall meeting which had seven other ministers: Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Finance; Solomon Dalung, Youth and Sports; Babatunde Fashola, Power, Works and Housing; Chris Ngige, Labour and Employment and Aisha Abubakar, Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Investment; the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, challenged Nigerian youths to embrace farming and position themselves as the major beneficiaries of $22 billion which federal government intends to save from ban on importation of consumer goods, particularly food items in 2017.
Ogbeh threw the challenge at the joint town hall meeting for youths at the State House, addressed tuesday by
He said the youths can tap into the huge sums through credit that is available from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at one per cent lending rate, adding that government would also support interested youths with seedlings and land.
Ogbeh described agriculture as the easiest path for anybody from the grip of poverty, advising the youths that they do not need to embark on endless search of jobs as Nigeria is blessed with arable land which can be conveniently cultivated for farming purposes.
According to the minister, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which is about 8, 500 sq kilometres in size is five times bigger than Singapore. He lamented that many Nigerian youths, who out of perilous search for the golden fleece end up in various jails outside the country.
“I can’t see the reasons our youths roam about the globe in search of work. Presently, about 5,000 Nigerians are held in various jails in Guangzhou, China, and another 300 are jailed in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Some months ago, a Nigerian was lynched in India by a mob which accused him of taking away their job as a wheel barrow pusher. Agriculture is a dream we can’t neglect. If we can’t feed ourselves as a country, our greatness will evaporate,” Ogbeh admonished.
He further said he had been inundated with complaints from some Prime Ministers of some European nations, who said government ban on importation of stock fish was ruining their economy.
Also addressing the youths, Mohammed said the government’s massive investment in social programmes would help accelerate the process of job creation, especially for the youths.
He said the government places a serious premium on youth empowerment, youth development and youth engagement, hence the decision to organise the town hall meeting specifically for them,
‘’We have no choice because, according to the National Population Commission (NPC), more than half of Nigeria’s population are under 30 years of age! No government can afford to ignore this important demographic group, plus the youths are no longer just the leaders of tomorrow, but today’s leaders too!’’ he said.