It is important for Nigeria’s leaders to see young people as assets or else they will not eventually have a peaceful retirement.
The Deputy Secretary-General (DSG) of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, gave the advice on Tuesday when she visited the secretariat of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), as part of her tour of some West African States. including Ghana, Sierra Leone, Chad, and the Niger Republic.
A statement from the NGF Secretariat spokesperson, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, noted that the advice was in reaction to the #EndSARS protest in some parts of the country.
In her response to pleas by the governors for assistance from the UN, Mohammed said the organisation does not write cheques but creates an environment for those who have the cheques to do so.
She, however, commended the governors for the mature manner in which they handled the demonstrations, although she regretted that some ugly influences eventually contaminated the protests.
Welcoming the DSG to the secretariat, NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, listed some of the challenges of governance in the country and how the COVID-19 pandemic affected Nigeria’s economy.
He stated that while the virus hit Nigeria later than other countries, its impact has been ravaging with over 64,090 confirmed cases and 1,154 deaths.
Other impacts, the governor noted, included the fall in oil prices, contracting tax base, loss of sources of livelihood, unemployment, youth restiveness, increasing inflation rate, worsening exchange rate, and decline in productivity due to necessary lockdown measures initiated globally and nationally.
Governor Fayemi explained that as a responsive group, members of the NGF worked collaboratively, co-opting ideas and welcoming support from critical stakeholders, including partners and the private sector.
“In the wake of the pandemic, we worked with the Federal Government to ensure the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Presidential Task Force (PTF), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development got all the support they required in delivering swift containment measures,” he told the DSG.
He added, “At the National Economic Council (NEC) level, we developed a COVID-19 response plan encompassing health, economic and socio-economic, immediate to medium-term measures needed to combat the virus and its impact.”
The NGF chairman said the pandemic compelled governors to see the “need for retooling ourselves on how best to become accountable to the electorate.”
Adamawa State Governor, Umaru Fintiri, and his Imo State counterpart, Governor Hope Uzodinma, attended the meeting in person while many others joined by zoom from their respective states.
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged agencies involved in agriculture to further streamline their priorities to include more youths in driving modern methods of farming.
He also gave an assurance that an enabling environment will be created for full participation for all those interested.
The President made the call on Tuesday in Abuja at the launch of the National Young Farmers Scheme, designed by the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) to spur more youth interest in farming, the President said agriculture remains the backbone of the Nigerian economy, being the largest contributor to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“We will do more to expand, modernize and revolutionize our agriculture, which is our most important asset,” he was quoted to have said in a statement signed by media aid, Femi Adesina.
“I have directed that all NALDA’s abandoned farm estates be retrieved to enable thousands of our young men and women to be engaged in farming. This Administration will be achieving agricultural mechanization through this scheme and I am confident that Nigeria under my watch, we will achieve food security in producing most of what we eat. In good harvest years we may even export our surpluses and earn foreign exchange.”
President Buhari also noted that the resuscitation of NALDA will make Nigeria food sufficient and in a few years, the country will begin to earn more revenue from exports of agricultural commodities.
“By virtue of my passion and desire for agriculture and also as a farmer myself, I am directly supervising NALDA as an authority under the Presidency.
“I am asking the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and State Governments to give full cooperation to NALDA in its activities. With the success of Anchor Borrowers programme spearheaded by the Central Bank of Nigeria and new programmes to revive cotton, palm products and cocoa, the next few years will see a vast difference in our agricultural performance.”
The President said all the necessary approvals that NALDA requires for effective take-off, beginning with areas of adequate land preparation for crop farming and livestock rearing, had been given, charging the Executive Secretary/CEO of NALDA and his team to continue to live up to expectations and increase their activities in local communities.
“I am told that, so far, 4,333 families have benefited from this scheme and it is expected that many more individuals and families will benefit as the programme is rolled out.
“I now flag off the National Young Farmers’ Scheme. It is my expectation that the Scheme will take in young Nigerians, graduates and non-graduates alike, and be part of this Government’s effort to reduce unemployment and contribute to the regeneration of agriculture and our economy.”
The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, who was present at the event, commended the President for what he described as his steadfastness in repositioning the agricultural sector since coming to office.
He further noted that there was a need to encourage agricultural agencies, like NALDA, to work closely with the research institutions in Nigerian universities.
On his part, the Executive Secretary/CEO of NALDA, Mr Paul Ikonne, said the discovery of oil in the country hampered the growth of agriculture and increased poverty in rural communities, assuring the President that the concerted effort to revive interest in farming will tackle poverty and create wealth.
Ikonne said the resuscitation of NALDA after close to 20 years of abandonment will go a long way in reducing unemployment in the country, especially among the youth.
“Our focus is to engage 1,000 farmers from each of the 774 Local Government Areas, thereby creating 774,000, direct employment annually,” he added.
Goodwill messages were given by a representative of the Young Farmers, Fatima Usman Musa and Denmark Ambassador to Nigeria, Amb. Jesper Kamp.
Governors of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu; Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni; also participated in the event.
President Muhammadu Buhari has asked Nigerian youths to keep the peace, saying that it is in their own interest to do so.
The President made the call on Monday while receiving the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and ex-Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed at the State House in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
“It is in the interest of the youths to keep the peace. They want jobs, infrastructure and development,” President Buhari said.
“I have sent a team led by the Chief of Staff (Professor Ibrahim Gambari) to go round the country, talk to traditional rulers, who will then talk to the youths. The views of the youths have been heard.”
Reacting to the recent #EndSARS protest that led to the destruction of lives and properties in the country, President Buhari said: “Our own generation is on the last lap, we are exiting.”
While noting that the current administration inherited severe infrastructural deficits, Buhari explained that the Federal Government is doing its best within the available limited resources on the ground.
He also lamented the devastating effect of COVID-19 on the global economy, adding that the pandemic has destroyed lives and livelihoods around the world.
On climate change, President Buhari said Nigeria was concerned about the recharge of the Lake Chad, which has great implications on security, irregular migration, and livelihoods.
On her part, the Deputy Secretary-General said she was on a courtesy call with her team over challenges that concern the UN, particularly COVID-19, climate change, security, and humanitarian responses to the diverse challenges.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has said the Federal Government is addressing the concerns of the Nigerian youths on job creation, poverty alleviation among others.
He disclosed this on Friday in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, adding that the government’s commitment necessitated the creation of the National Youth Fund.
“Before the EndSARS protest, the Federal Government on its own has been addressing the concerns of youths, especially in the areas of job creation and poverty alleviation,” he said.
“This is why the Federal Government set up the National Youth Fund. The National Youth Fund is a N75billion fund which is meant to give opportunities to our younger elements to actualise their aspirations.
“This N75billion fund is part of the N2.3trillion Economic Sustainability Plan to cushion the effect of COVID-19.”
Speaking further, the Minister also listed other interventions of the Federal Government in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
One of these, he stated, is the setting up of the Micro Medium and Small Enterprises Survival Fund on owners of small businesses.
It is clear that the agitations by young Nigerians are attributable to social and economic inequality in the country.
This formed part of the resolutions reached by members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) at the meeting held on Wednesday.
As part of measures to reduce restiveness among the youths, the governors agreed to adopt the guidelines to be developed and issued by the Sub-Committee of the National Economic Council (NEC) on Engagement, at both the state and regional levels.
The meeting focused on the fallouts of the #ENDSARS protests, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, among other issues affecting the country.
The governors also resolved to engage with traditional and religious leaders, as well as various civil society organisations to drive a common agenda and generate the required support for security agencies in ensuring the safety of all citizens.
Following the looting which trailed the protest, they commend CACOVID for presenting the true situation of what transpired regarding the distribution of palliatives in the states.
The governors also agreed to enlighten the people about the various palliatives provided by the states, including cash transfers, food items, medical supplies, and tax incentives given to individual taxpayers and businesses.
They asked members of the forum to direct their commissioners of finance to sign the Subsidiary Grant Agreements of the World Bank’s State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme, with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning to give effect to the principles and objectives of the programme in their states.
Shortly after the meeting began, the NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, briefed his colleagues on the #ENDSARS protests, the meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of Horasis: The Global Visions Community, and the partnership of the NGF with the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
Governors Simon Lalong (Plateau), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), and Godwin Obaseki (Edo) also gave updates and made presentations at the meeting.
Read the full text of the communique issued at the end of the meeting below:
We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today, deliberated on issues affecting the country, particularly on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fallouts of the ENDSARS protests.
The NGF Chairman provided the following updates:
The ENDSARS protests and emphasising that the security situation in the country remains a priority agenda for Forum members across board;
The meeting on Friday 30th October 2020 with Mr President together with the leadership of Horasis the Global Visions Community conveying to members that the partnership with Horasis is envisaged to create a long-term strategic framework for Nigeria to be the African home for Horasis Annual Meetings in addition to establishing the Horasis – Nigeria Economic Development Council to assist the Government in the actualisation of its economic development goals.
The partnership of the NGF with the Nigerian Stock Exchange to organise a virtual event on the 17th of November 2020 with the support of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) and other strategic partners in the country’s infrastructure financing space.
This event will discuss the entryway for privatisation in the development and performance of state economies.
The Forum also received the following updates and presentations:
The Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, provided a brief on steps taken by the governors of the 19 Northern States to address the fallouts of the EndSARS protests.
The Vice-Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, provided an update on the work of the National Economic Council Sub-Committee mandated to engage with youths, civil society organisations, religious, political and traditional leaders with the objective of framing a new security and stability architecture for the country.
This NEC Sub Committee was set up following the NEC Emergency meeting which held on Monday, 26th October 2020.
The Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, Chairman of the NGF Sub-Committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 raised concerns about the current low testing numbers in the country, especially in the light of the resurgence of COVID-19 cases globally.
State governors were enjoined to increase their testing capacity in all local governments to help prevent the start of a second wave of the pandemic in the country flowing from imported cases from abroad.
The Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki provided an update on the status of the World Bank’s State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme.
The assessment of states’ amended budgets published at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been completed while the verification exercise for the implementation of tax relief programmes in all states is underway.
The governor enjoined all state governments to immediately direct the signing of the new SFTAS Subsidiary Grant Agreement to give effect to the principles and objectives of the new additions to the program.
Thereafter, members of the Forum Resolved to:
Engage with traditional, religious and civil society organisations to drive a common agenda and generate the required support for security personnel who play a vital role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all Nigerians;
Adopt at both the state and regional levels guidelines to be developed and issued by the NEC Sub-Committee on Engagement to reduce restiveness among young people as it is clear that these agitations are attributable to social and economic inequality in the country;
Commend CACOVID for presenting the true situation of what transpired in the light of the unfortunate misperception that attended the distribution of palliatives at the state level resolving that the NGF Chair should work with the CACOVID Chairperson to address the media in addition to members speaking up in their local settings.
Educate the citizenry about the various palliatives provided by the states including, cash transfers, food items, medical supplies, and tax incentives given to individual taxpayers and businesses.
Finally, Governors are to direct their Commissioners of Finance to sign the SFTAS Subsidiary Grant Agreements with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to give effect to the principles and objectives of the program in their states.
South-east governors and other leaders in the region have agreed to implement the 10-point demands of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and youth organisations to foster lasting peace and development of the region.
The decision was taken at a meeting between various leaders and youth groups which held on Friday at the Government House in Enugu State.
Ebonyi State Governor and Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum, David Umahi, addressed reporters at the end of the meeting.
“Today, we interacted with a number of youth organisations in the South East. The communique of MASSOB in our meeting with them is quite informing and I am happy that our leaders at the federal level are here,” he said.
The governor added, “The ones our federal leaders will address immediately, they will and the ones the governors will address, we will immediately.
“And I am sure sometimes in December, working with all the committees we are going to set up to work on these demands, Mr President-General (of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo) will be able to lead select youths and some leaders to meet with Mr President.”
According to Governor Umahi, all the issues raised in the communique of MASSOB are valid and important to ensure lasting peace in the South East and the nation in general.
Some of the demands presented to the meeting by the MASSOB leader, Uche Madu, included the emergence of a president in 2023 from the region, disarming of killer herdsmen, and creation of a new state in the South East.
They also asked the leaders to set up a youth rehabilitation and empowerment fund to address unemployment in the region and take up the alleged imbalance in the federal civil service, among other demands.
Those present at the meeting included ministers and members of the National Assembly from the South East, as well as religious and traditional leaders in the region.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said the parliament is determined to resolve the issues facing the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Gbajabiamila disclosed this on Wednesday when he met with a group of young lawmakers from the House under the aegis of ‘Young Parliamentarians Forum’ of the National Assembly in his office.
According to him, some of the demands of the youths following the EndSARS protests would be addressed constitutionally.
“We are determined to resolve the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) matter, and if we can resolve two out of three issues, I think we would have gone a long way to help the lecturers who are on strike,” Gbajabiamila was quoted as saying according to a statement issued by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi.
“There’s a bill on vocational education, I think from the 8th Assembly that was even my bill. We’ll pick it up again and pass it to you (Young Parliamentarians Group) to polish it up and add it to whatever ideas you have.”
On youth empowerment, Gbajabiamila said: “This government has done a lot about youth empowerment and is ready to do more. We can never be bereft of ideas.
“If you have anything that we need to look at, the House is willing and ready to add to those ideas. We will be happy to accelerate bills on youth development.”
Speaking on police reforms, the Speaker called for more reformed police that will serve Nigerians better.
He explained that the parliament was liaising with the Nigeria Bar Association in achieving the target of 30 days.
“We gave ourselves 30 days, and since then, we’ve been working night and day, especially with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
“We thought the best way to go about it is that we amend the Police Service Commission Act, and that has been done and the report has been concluded and soon, it will be published and be on the floor,” he added.
The Oyo State government has ordered the employment of 5,000 youths in the state into various government agencies.
The state governor, Seyi Makinde made this announcement on Monday during a stakeholder meeting with traditional rulers, security chiefs, religious leaders, and chairmen of the 68 Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas.
He said the 5,000 youths will be employed across the state Ministries, Departments, and Agencies including OSRMA and OYOWMA.
“I have directed the employment of 5,000 young persons across all government agencies over the next few months.
“We have been talking to Oyo State Road Maintenance Agency (OSRMA), Oyo State Waste Management Authority (OYOWMA), before now. We have been talking to AMOTEKUN. We have to, immediately, wrap some of those recruitments up and put these people off the street. The criteria for employment and the dates for assessment will be announced by the agency authorities,” Makinde said at the meeting.
The sum of N1billion has also been earmarked by the state government as compensation for victims of police brutality and injustice and a Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) scheme, for youths.
The package includes an initial deposit of N500 million for MSMEs and another N500 million as compensation to victims of police brutality and injustice.
“Let me also state that we have set up an initial Five Hundred Million Naira (N500million) Compensation Fund for victims of injustice. So, I encourage everyone who has suffered any form of injustice in the past or as a result of the #EndSARS protests, to please take advantage of the platforms we have provided to log their cases. We have an email service and a direct reporting portal on the Oyo State Government website. A judicial panel for Oyo State will be inaugurated in the next one week to look into cases of injustice.
“We have taken the immediate actions to address some of the issues raised by the youths during the protest: I have directed that a 500 Million Naira MSME fund be set up. This fund will be disbursed to youths who have bright entrepreneurial ideas that will provide further employment and improve the economic landscape in Oyo State,” Makinde added.
Stakeholders at the meeting with the governor include the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji Aje Ogungunniso1; Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, and other traditional rulers across the state; the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Kwara and Delta States, Alhaji Alhaji Dawud Makanjuola; the State’s Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Apostle Joshua Akinyemi; the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Leye Oyebade, and Service Commanders in the State.
Youths in Bauchi and Niger states under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) staged a protest on Thursday morning to demand an end to insecurity, poor road infrastructure, and epileptic power supply in the north.
They believe the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team is in a better position to tackle various forms of security threats such as killings, banditry, kidnapping, rape, and including the terrorist group’ Boko Haram’ in the region if they are fully equipped and trained.
The youths in Niger state also decried the poor condition of road infrastructures in the state, which they describe as death traps .
The former presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hailed Nigerian youths for their doggedness and drive towards a better nation, saying this year’s theme, “Youth Engagement for Global Action,” captures how important young people are in the scheme of things.
“I salute the Nigerian youth in particular for their commitment and perseverance towards the attainment of a greater Nigeria,” Atiku added.
“This global picture, which has been on my mind, informed my decision of 40% youth inclusion in my 2019 presidential campaign; a promise I am committed to keeping for the futuristic benefit of our great Nation.”
He explained that with the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world, youths have a huge responsibility in fighting the disease as the future of humanity rests on their shoulders.
“Indeed, the survival of humanity rests largely on the shoulders of the youths, as vigour is required to wear out this plague,” the former vice president explained.
“The vigour and spirit that you embody as youth will play a crucial role in the socio-economic survival of the world, and its rejuvenation, post-COVID19.”
Young women & men worldwide are raising their voices to demand a better future. When provided with opp. to reach their full potential, they can be a driving force for #SDGs.#Volunteering allows youth to address 🌍's most pressing issues & bring about positive change!#YouthDaypic.twitter.com/uPvmpTDWDe
As future leaders, Atiku called on young people to preach and embrace peace, show patriotism, shun nepotism and promote competence.
“Only then can we truly have the Nigeria of our dream,” he said.
According to the United Nations (UN), the 2020 International Youth Day theme is to buttress the “ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.”
The youths in Benue State have accused the Nigeria Police of bias over the killing of seven persons in Logo Local Government Area of the state.
This comes a week after the Defence headquarters in a statement confirmed the attack, renewing calls for the designation of armed herdsmen as a terrorist group.
Addressing journalists in Makurdi on Monday, President of the Benue Youth Forum, Terrence Kuanum, expressed the forum’s concerns over attempts to change the narrative and blame victims of the attack for killing themselves.
Kuanam noted that the reaction of the police authorities is in support of the herdsmen who have allegedly threatened to destabilise the state in the wake of the law banning open grazing of animals.
But reacting to the allegation, spokesman of the State Police Command, Sewuese Anene, said that hired gunmen were responsible for the killing.
Anene said the development is related to a mining field dispute between two brothers, leading to the attack after one of them was paid compensation by a mining company in Cheme village in Logo LGA.