In the face of the dwindling revenue from crude oil and its effect on the capacity of government to carry out its statutory responsibilities, the incoming government of the All Progressive Congress in Kaduna State has been advised to concentrate on a few quick-fix measures that would enable it to meet the high expectations of the people following the party’s victory in the last general election.
This advice was given recently by one of the support groups in the state that had worked to fulfil its aspiration of ensuring the success of the party at the polls.
Speaking on behalf of the group known as Coalition for the El-Rufai-Bantex Support Group, its Director-General, Dr Maigari Daniel Manzo, said the quick fix measures that the incoming administration need is in agriculture, and not in the moribund industries which will take several years to turn around.
“For Manzo, there is no alternative to using agriculture as a means of absorbing significant number of jobless youth who may become even more restive in the face of further delay. There is the dearth of employment occasioned by misrule. This has led to widespread poverty with specific reference to women and youth. We have a set of youth who are explosive; the type of people you cannot tell to wait till tomorrow because you are trying to do something. They want it now, and anything short of that may mark the beginning of a revolution in itself because the expectations of the people from this government is unbelievable. When you look at real poverty alleviation, when you look at combating unemployment, where to look is agriculture because that is our area of comparative advantage,” he said.
Manzo further noted that because some 80 percent of the people in the state do things that are related to agriculture in one form or the other, any administration that would achieve multiplier effect needed while creating job opportunities would not successfully do so without focusing on agriculture.
He is convinced that while resuscitating industries is a good idea, the current situation requires that the government focuses on what it can achieve in the immediate term, while it continues to work on those areas that require longer term planning and investment.
Specifically, Manzo referred to any effort targeted at bringing the textile industry back to live as long term. “Those are long terms,” he said.
“I don’t see any government getting the textile companies back to work in less than two to three years. These are factories that have been completely pilfered; even the building, the roofs have been vandalized, so you have to get the buildings back in shape, then bring in machines and find the investors. You also have to stop the smuggling of textiles that kill the local market. As fantastic as the option of reviving the textile companies is, it is something that is beyond the state government.”
The agric-business consultant further noted that focusing on solutions that would take years to show results would run contrary to the situation that created room for the incoming administration.
“When you have a challenge in which you have a class of restive youth who are into all kind of vices and who don’t want to wait till tomorrow, then you have to hit the ground running,” he said, directing attention to agric-business where quicker agreement could be reached with stakeholders and local investors would be willing to bank on government guarantees. “Under this kind of situation, under two weeks you can tidy up arrangement with some of the large farms that exist in the state, and you can easily bring some five thousand young men up, and put them on the farms to start production. You can ease their situation by giving them stipends until they have concluded a production circle and earn money.”
While delving into details of how agriculture was the best and the most viable option the incoming APC government in Kaduna State could use in resolving the immediate challenge of unemployment, Manzo explained further that there was the need to approach the issue of unemployment holistically even as he argued that agriculture would be the most appropriate sector to focus on because of the innumerable opportunities in it.
“Whatever focus you have must necessarily be on the sector,” he said. “So what we should be looking at is to develop a template for tackling unemployment and poverty alleviation among the youth and women. That template requires that we identify and register unemployed youth across the state. After this, we would have to divide them according to interest. Those who want to do farming, arable farming, or those who want to stay in the value addition chain, which is processing. We identify all of this, and we group them,” he explained.
Manzo also stated that the abandoned large farms would be where to start in order to absorb the unemployed on a large scale. “The situation we are in now may make us to look at the many farms across the state that are no longer operational, but which have facilities. So the government should reach out to the owners of those farms and form partnerships with them. Then we can cluster youth into different production stages such as raising broilers, raising ruminants like goats and piggery, cockerel production, and so on. We can also look at business support service where farm produces are assisted to assess market, because if you produce and the market is not there, you are back to square one.”
He also thought there were other avenues apart from agriculture through which the incoming administration could immediately get youth engaged.
“Among youths there those who are skilled, the artisans; we can group these ones two into their various trades such as motor mechanics, refrigerator repairers, printers. We group them and provide support for them so that they provide services to the public, and we can get the government to patronize them.”