Sir: The declaration by Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, the Governor of Delta, that for the nation to effectively tackle the challenges of youth unemployment and restiveness in the country, there must be a deliberate effort by governments at all levels, individuals and other stakeholders, to give agriculture its rightful place, qualifies him as a leader.
Speaking at the occasion of the 2021 International Youth Day Celebration, the governor said that, some natural resources as oil and gas are exhaustible, but agriculture was as old as man’s existence and would out-live man, adding that its importance in the provision of employment and food for man could not be overemphasized. Indeed, there exist reasons that place Okowa’s postulation in consonance with the global position on the role agriculture plays in helping nations achieve sustainable development.
Nigerians with critical interest have at different times and places expressed concern that it is not right for federal governments of Nigeria to create agencies that dole money to Nigerian youths with the aim of eradicating poverty. Such huge resources do not have economic value. Instead, such amount should be used to build industries and factories of production. Others are of the view that less emphasis on university education should be done. Technical and Commercial colleges should be established and funded to produce graduates that are technically fit. To the rest, Cooperate organizations and entrepreneurs should engage in production of domestic and industrial goods.
Security wise, large unemployed youth population is a threat to the security of the few that are employed. Any transformation that does not have job creation as its main objective will not take us anywhere’’. And the agricultural sector has that capacity to absorb the teaming unemployed youth in the country. Separate from job creation, averting malnutrition which constitutes a serious setback to socio-economic development of any nation is another reason to embrace agriculture
Across the world, agriculture is considered a vehicle for ensuring food security and sustainable socio economic sector. Sustainable growth is achievable only under an environment in which the generality of the people are exposed to balance diet, not just food. In Nigeria, an estimated 2.5 million children under-five suffer from severe acute malnutrition (sam) annually, exposing nearly 420,000 children within that age bracket to early death from common childhood illness such as diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria.
Importantly, government must develop a rail system that offers low fares and connection of major economic towns and landlocked cities to aid distribution of food products and other economic products from advantaged to less advantaged areas. Evidence abounds that such towns/cities referred to as disadvantaged often always hold the domestic trade and market prices of such commodities.
• Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via;[email protected]/08032725374.