By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has canvassed for the support of traditional rulers in his administration’s determination to address the demands of the youths in the country.
The president stated this Thursday at a meeting in the State House with a delegation of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement issued Thursday said the president told the royal fathers that his government has heard the loud cries of the youth and his government is attending to their concerns.
Buhari, however, assured them that his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, would lead senior government officials to various parts of the country and directly engage with the traditional rulers as part of this process, adding that Gambari would be reporting back to him on the traditional rulers’ various perspectives.
He stated: “I want to once again thank you for the role you all have played to calm down our youth with wisdom and authority. By instilling hope and keeping the peace, you have rendered the country great service.
“We cannot allow anybody or group to threaten the peace or sabotage these efforts. Strong, transparent efforts are underway to address those rogue elements of the Nigerian Police Force. Simultaneously, the Nigerian Police Force will also undergo much needed reform that covers welfare, working conditions and code of conduct. That will usher in a more professional workforce.
“To succeed in all of this, we would require your support and voice to help amplify the message. Your proximity to the people places you in a unique position to communicate and ensure that our response is targeted and impactful.”
The president, while describing their role as guardians of traditional values and culture as most critical, he urged them not to compromise their neutrality because it is what significantly confers on them moral authority and legitimacy.
Recognizing the primary and important role of the monarchs in helping maintain peace and security in the country, the president expressed delight at their visit “given all that has happened recently in our country”.
While receiving the recommendations of the traditional rulers, he promised to study them and take appropriate action.
The president also drew the attention of the delegation to the challenges of Covid-19 pandemic on the world.
According to him, “We find ourselves in very turbulent times, with a global health pandemic that has been incredibly challenging. Economies have been crippled as the response to the pandemic has forced businesses to shut down or devise new means of transacting. For a country like ours, with a large informal economy, our citizens have been particularly hit.”
He, however, assured the monarchs that his administration has designed various schemes and taken many measures to soften the impact, despite the revenue struggles as government.
Buhari said he recognised that more needs to be done to cater for the citizens, not just those in the urban areas but also those in rural areas.
He added: “I am also fully aware that our strong farming belts have been impacted by floods. While we have seen record levels of farm outputs and increased level of fertilizer utilization, government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and its agencies is working on how to help bring these farmers some relief.”
Admitting the enormity of these challenges and the country’s growing youth population, the president declared: “There is no hiding place regarding how we should address insecurity concerns, youth unemployment, job creation, boosting industrialization and preparing for a transition into a digital economy.”
Remarks were made by the Sultan of Sokoto and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, while two foremost traditional rulers representing each geo-political zone also attended the meeting.