Let me begin this edition of my column by hailing my fellow editor FemiAdesina of the Daily Sun for his new appointment as an aide to incoming president MuhammaduBuhari. Na your time, Egbon. Twale to you.
Okay, all due protocols observed, welcome to this week’s edition of Spyglass, where we are observing a countdown to the Buhari era. As you know, President Jonathan’s era will end in a few days, and what has been described as the Buhari restoration will begin. During New Year’s Day celebrationspeople normally pray that the incoming year will be better than the previous one, no matter how good that previous year was. So we wish that, no matter how good the Jonathan era has been the Buhari era will be even better. I’m sure President Jonathan himself will say a big amen to that prayer.
Okay: so what is one thing we would like the incoming president to look into? For me I think there is an urgent need for the incoming administration to look at creating economic opportunities for our youth and publicizing the ones already in existence. I believe that if Buhari can look into these, the crime rate in our country will go down drastically together with reports of disgraceful actions of our countrymen abroad.
We should ask ourselves why high numbers of Nigerians are languishing in prisons abroad.
Government so far has neglected its role of providing employment opportunities and easier access to ready capital for the vast majority of the youth. Even when government has provided avenues, they have turned out to be tiny drops in the ocean.
A case in point is the government-funded Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWIN) project: Even though the selection process has been widely accredited as being largely free and fair, handing out capital to only 1,500 youths every year in a country of 170 million is like fetching water with a spoon instead of with a pail. It doesn’t go even near enough to address the youthful problems of unemployment and lack of capital.
The incoming Buhari Administration is hereby charged to take youth empowerment through provision of employment opportunities and easy access to capital as its primary priority.
YouWIN should not be scrapped but the number of awardees should be increased to at least 50,000 per year. The budgetary allocation for YouWIN should be adjusted to accommodate this number of awardees, and funds cut off from several of the elephant projects that litter the polity.
Another thing is that the Buhari administration needs to publicize the other incentives that the Federal Government has like the cheap government farmlands available for lease in the agricultural sector.
I know of a certain youth called African Farmer Mogajji (real not nicknames) who has made it through large scale commercial farming – he has hectares of farm making him real money even though he hardly owns any of the land.
How does he do it? He leases farmland at ridiculously low rates from the Federal Government. This is not because of special connections with people in power, but is one of the least known incentive packages the Federal Government has made available that our youth can key into.
The great percentage of youth in this country do not know that in the River Basins of Nigeria, under the care of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, there are thousands and thousands of hectares of farmland lying fallow that the Federal Government is willing to lease to anyone at very cheap rates (we are talking of N2500 for every 2.5 hectares for a renewable period of about eight months).
All you need to do to get the 1,2, 3 or more hectares of land you need for farming business if you cannot buy them is is to go to one of the River Basin Development Authorities near you and tell them you would like to lease farmland from them.
They will take you to hectares upon hectares of Federal Government owned farmland and all you need to do is to choose your site and payfor it and make sure you begin to farm on it, and it is yours for a number of months, complete with Federal Government irrigation facilities for your crops.
If entrepreneurial opportunities for our youth are improved upon and adequately publicised, it will win great political laurels for the incoming Buhari Administration. If the youth are not urgently empowered, we may continue to hear stories of Nigerians youths being incarcerated and executed in foreign shores, even in a Buhari administration.
Let me close by recommending this Robert Service poem that gives me inspiration when things get though. I think Buhari will also need it in the presidential journey he is about to embark upon, because it is not an easy journey.
When you’re lost in the Wild, and you’re scared as a child,
And Death looks you bang in the eye,
And you’re sore as a boil, it’s according to Hoyle
To cock your revolver and . . . die.
But the Code of a Man says: “Fight all you can,”
And self-dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it’s easy to blow . . .
It’s the hell-served-for-breakfast that’s hard.
“You’re sick of the game!” Well, now that’s a shame.
You’re young and you’re brave and you’re bright.
“You’ve had a raw deal!” I know — but don’t squeal,
Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It’s the plugging away that will win you the day,
So don’t be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit, it’s so easy to quit.
It’s the keeping-your chin-up that’s hard.
It’s easy to cry that you’re beaten — and die;
It’s easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope’s out of sight —
Why that’s the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each gruelling bout,
All broken and battered and scarred,
Just have one more try — it’s dead easy to die,
It’s the keeping-on-living that’s hard.