By Deji Elumoye
President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan has warned that Nigeria may not escape another youths’ 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 them.
This is just as the federal parliament flayed
the underfunding of the agricultural sector on yearly basis by the federal government, which it said is detrimental to Nigeria’s diversification policy.
Lawan, who gave the warning yesterday, while speaking at the 2021 budget defence session of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Agriculture, said for such protests not to happen again, the youths must be gainfully engaged by the government.
He said: “We escaped this #EndSARS protest; any other one may be inescapable”.
According to him, there is no other sector of the economy than agriculture that is most suitable for the required gainful employment of the youth at the grassroots level.
Lawan said while some youths genuinely expressed their anger in recent #EndSARS protest and successfully gained government’s attention; a good number of them who may not have had the opportunity to vent their anger are in the rural areas.
He advised that there was the need to be more practical with budgetary allocations for the Ministry of Agriculture in creating 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”.
He advised that government should take the agriculture sector more seriously in its efforts to diversify the economy from oil since the sector is big enough to finance the national budget.
“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. We must work the talk for the sake of our economy and our youths”, he added.
Speaking earlier, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Abdullahi Adamu decried the annual poor funding of the sector through meagre budgetary allocations.
He said: “Over the years, the sector’s allocation has been abysmally low, a far cry from the Maputo declaration which states that a country should allocate at least 10 per cent of their national budget to the agricultural sector.
“This year’s N139,458,322,208 billion budget proposal represents less than two per cent of the N13.08trillion budget”.
In his presentation, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Sabo Nanono, gave a breakdown of the N139,458 billion budgetary estimates to include Personnel – N68,031 billion; overhead – N3,186 billion and capital – N110,240 billion.