The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan has warned that Nigeria may not escape another mass demonstration in the mode of #EndSARS protest if government fails to effectively address youth unemployment.
Lawan gave the warning on Monday in an opening remark at the 2021 budget defence for the Ministry of Agriculture at the National Assembly.
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Tens of thousands of Nigerian youths in recent #EndSARS protests in across country, expressed anger over police brutality and bad governance, a development that gained government’s attention.
Lawan urged the federal government to take practical steps in its 2021 budget to meaningfully engage the youths.
“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 the 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.
“On our part, we are going to be accountable. If we escape this one (#EndSARS protest), the other one is inescapable. And I am sure people will know what I am saying,” Lawan said.
The Senate President said with practical and radical approach, 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 the El Dorado. But there is every potential, every possibility and there are so many experts here.
“Oil cannot give jobs to the youths. Only 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 potentials to create the wealth that we need to have a fairly and meaningful life for everyone,” he added.
The Ministry of Agriculture has a total budget size of N139 billion in 2021.
But the Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Abdullahi Adamu, said the budget was absymally low and called on government to come up with policies that will stimulate agriculture revolution.