Richard Ginika Izuora
The Senate has raised fresh concerns that Nigeria may witness another youths’ uprising akin to the #EndSARS protest if it fails to effectively address the issues of youth unemployment, poverty reduction, food security and remarkable improvement in living standards.
It also reviewed the agricultural and economic diversification policies of the Federal Government and submitted that the current performance level cannot take Nigeria to Eldorado.
Angered by the meagre budget provision of N139,458, 322,208.00 billion for agriculture out-of-the total 2021 budget of N13.8 trillion, the Senate expressed disappointment that the agriculture sector has not been made to provide the needed economic succour.
Speaking at a meeting to assess the performance of the agriculture sector particularly in terms of budgetary allocations, Senate President Ahmed Lawan said while some youths genuinely expressed their anger in recent #EndSARS protest and successfully gained government’s attention, a good number of them may not have had the opportunity to vent their anger because they are in the rural areas.
“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,” Lawan said.
“There are so many other people who may not be youthful but are also in the same need but they didn’t protest. Let us 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 run to 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 leave them there to live a productive life and that is the only way that we can make a difference in the lives of the people.”
“For us elected people, we have to be accountable if we escape this one, the other one is inescapable. I am sure we know what I am saying. So we do our best as we still have what it takes to work with the ministry of agriculture and the entire sector, Association of Farmers.”
The Senate President advised that there was a need to be more practical with budgetary allocations for the Ministry of Agriculture to create jobs for 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,” Lawan said.
“On our part, we are going to be accountable. We escaped this on (#EndSARS Protest); the other one is inescapable”, he said.
According to Lawan, “Agriculture is enough to turn around the fortunes of Nigeria. Something that Buhari has not been able to do but Buhari happen to be able to do so We need to be very practical and radical.
“I believe that the way we go can not take us to eldorado but there is every potential, every possibility than there are EndSARS. What can be better for a Government than to do better for its citizens? We need some resources, it is not even only money and resources but how we apply them,” Lawan queried.
Speaking, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Abdullahi Adamu, declared that the agriculture budget remained abysmally low, adding that government must to come up with policies that will stimulate agriculture revolution.
“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 budget proposal only allocated 9.2 per cent to the agricultural sect.”
Although the Minister of Agriculture, Sabo Nanono, admitted that the current budgetary allocations for the sector have been meagre, he said the sector recorded meaningful progress in 2020 and remains one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country.