President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan on Monday asked that the 2021 budget which is still being processed by the National Assembly be mindful of the rate of youth unemployment in the country.
Lawan spoke in Abuja against the backdrop of the recent End SARS protests in the country, at a public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Agriculture on 2021 budget defence.
“Recently we had some of our youths protesting. Some of them very genuinely. They were seeking the attention of leaders and they got the attention of leaders.
“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. There are so many other people who may not be youthful but are also in the same need and they didn’t protest.
“Let’s meet them where they are. We don’t have to wait until they also try to grumble or protest. We should be proactive. We should reach them and they are in rural areas. Most of them.
“So we should meet them there. Give them what we can and what they need to some extent, within the purview of our resources and give them there, to make them live a productive life and that is the only way we can make a difference in the lives of the people,” Lawan said.
The Senate President said, with a practical and radical approach, the Agriculture sector would change Nigeria’s fortune.
“This sector(Agriculture), without prejudice to any other sector, is enough to turn around the fortune of Nigeria, something that the oil has not been able to do.
“But why have we not been able to do so? We need to be very practical and radical. I believe that the way we go will not take us to El Dorado. But there is every potential, every possibility and there are so many experts here.
“Oil cannot give jobs to youths. Only a few people. Mostly white-collar jobs. But we know that this sector(Agriculture), from the President, to the last man or woman in the country, and it has all the potential to create the wealth that we need to have a fairly and meaningful life for everyone.
“So we need to apply ourselves fully to operating this sector. Government alone cannot make it happen. The government can come up with the necessary and desired policies but those that will make it happen are the private sector,” Lawan said.
The Senate President described the Agriculture sector as the “mother of all sectors” in the Nigerian economy and urged all stakeholders at all levels of government to accord it more attention.
“I still believe that we need to do better for this sector because to do better for the Agriculture sector is to do better for Nigerians and what can be better for a government than to do better for its citizens.
“I believe that this sector is the mother of all sectors in our economy. We have the potential across the country to grow anything.
“Is it not time that we start to think of maybe one crop per Local Government Area or something like that because this idea was mooted before.
“Do we need to be talking of Agriculture only at the Federal level? Where are the states? Where are the local governments because we don’t have land. The states and the Local Governments have the land and the people. So we need to come up with better strategies of engaging everybody, every stakeholder,” Lawan said.