A PUBLIC SPEECH PRESENTED BY: GAIUS CHIBUEZE.
Topic: “AGRICULTURE THE ANSWER TO YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT, (FARMING, THE HIDDEN TREASURE OF AN UNDISCOVERD MULTIBILLION NAIRA SECTOR)
DURATION: 15 MINUTES.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure to welcome you all to this giant stride event. We are gathered here today to discuss the future of the Nigerian youths (male and female) The Nigerian youths are often referred to as the future of our dear nation. But the average Nigerian youth is faced daily with the most disturbing cause of youth unrest which is “youth unemployment” today I wish to point out what unemployment is, what the causes are and how we can fight it ,with a view to building a strong economy where all youths will be productive whether self employed or government employed. What then is “youth unemployment?
According to the National Youth Policy of Nigeria and the African Youth Charter, a person whose age is between 18 and 35 is considered a ‘youth’. Unemployment on the other hand is defined by me as “the proportion of the economically active population who are not working but are available for work”. Also, Unemployment is a state in which a person who is qualified to work remains idle because there is no job. Unemployment is a serious problem affecting the Nigerian society especially youths, but we shall view it from three different dimensions namely, Lack of job unemployment, Willful unemployment, and Professional unemployment.
Lack of jobs unemployment: This is the type every Nigerian will think is seriously affecting the nation, but I will prove here that this is the least form of it that can be avoided if only people are creative and ready to start from somewhere. Nigerians especially the younger generation complain everyday of no jobs in the country, but how true is that? That is a wrong assertion, there are employment opportunities in every nook and cranny of the country but people especially the youths trample and look down on these small but great opportunities. Life is all about packaging, a lot of new ideas of doing things need to be introduced to people. People have so many problems and are always willing to pay huge amount to those who can provide solution to such problems. But the normal Nigerian youth always has his eyes up, looking up to the government to build big factories where they can go and be managers, sitting and relaxing under air-conditions and at the end of the month collect big salaries. China today is flooding Nigerian market with almost all their products ranging from drugs to wears, electronics etc. But most of these things are produced, manufactured and packaged inside kiosk by young children of under 18. But still we complain of lack of employment each passing moment.
Willful Unemployment: Some persons have the opportunity to work and earn good salaries but are not ready to work because they prefer to engage in sexual immorality or crime to make the easy cash, not knowing that easy come easy go. Recreational centers are now shooting out in their numbers, most Nigerians are known to be jolly good fellows, always wanting to enjoy even during working hours and as such consumption of alcoholic beverages has now increased tremendously, youths drink and get drunk and since they are not thinking properly at such times they engage in all sorts of crime and immorality. Condoms and other types of sexual stimulating drugs are recording higher sales than other commodities in the market. Sexual appetites in the country are growing higher than even that of the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah. All these are serious problems to the society that needs to be addressed.
Professional Unemployment: Professional graduates such as Doctors and Engineers are been graduated in their thousands yearly and government is doing so much to employ the number they can, but those not employed, prefer to remain idle rather than engaging themselves in any available job, pride and ego has
Killed these set of persons. They won’t dare to reduce themselves down to engage in meager employments, but the fact is that some of them are not aware that some opportunities come to you due to your location at a particular time. Youth unemployment has become the biggest developmental challenge in most countries in the world.
A research conducted by the International Labour Organization in 2011 (ILO) estimates that 60 million young people worldwide are unemployed, and are searching for job but cannot find any. 80 percent of this figure are said to be from developing countries and economies in transition. In all, developing countries across the world, youth unemployment is growing annually at more than 15 percent. Most of our present day educational systems produce job-seekers only but not job-creators and income generators. Many young people today would rather complete school and go round with their application letters seeking for jobs, rather than being innovative to create their own businesses. However for those who are able to come up with their own business ideas, farming or agriculture is not an alternative. They would prefer to set up a business venture in other fields they think is more lucrative.
If anyone should ask me “who do I think is the most important person in the community?” I would say: “certainly, the Farmer and an Agriculturist, a Noble Profession” “You cannot preach to a hungry man, you have to fulfill his hunger first. Here we see the importance of Agriculture and the indispensability of the Farmer. Without an adequately fed and healthy body, man cannot divert his attention to that aspect of his existence which does not need food, but which is strengthened and immortalized by qualities of mind and character. “Mens sana in corpore sano” is what is needed; an untuned piano cannot produce harmony, even if it is played by the most talented artist. So, there is need for a healthy mind and body for the effective manifestation of self.
Agriculture, one of Nigeria’s important economic sectors, has for several years created employment for more than half of the population in both the formal and informal sectors. It appears the issue of unemployment in Nigeria is not necessarily the lack of jobs; neither is it essentially the lack of class-room education it is more of self realization.
Consider the job vacancy announcements that fill the pages of the local dailies, the abundant natural resources, including the fertile forest land, and the conducive business environment, etc that could be turned into actual jobs by those who need employment. Also, think about the huge number of young people holding University and College degrees and Diplomas in the country
The agric sector is made up of five major sub sectors – food crops, livestock, fisheries, cocoa and forestry. However, challenges facing the agricultural sector primarily include access to credit, poor infrastructure, including lack of irrigation development, insufficient and inadequate storage facilities, high transport cost, land acquisition, land tenure issues, and social and environmental problems. These problems have negatively affected the agric sector for several decades, despite the important role it plays in the economy. However, an emerging component, which is gradually changing the face of agriculture in the country, is agribusiness.
Agribusiness, which is the business aspect of farming, involves the production, processing and supply of agricultural goods. It is still rudimentary in Nigeria with little growth or development over the last few years. I remain grateful to our development partners for their support to the welfare of the ordinary Nigerian Youth and in its strides to fulfill its mandate of directing the Nigerian youth to become responsible and useful citizens, including empowering them with job proficiency. That we need continuation of such assistance cannot be overstressed. But the big question is why is agriculture not appealing to youths? If you ask any Nigerian youth where he or she will like to work after school? Answers that you will get, will make you understand that if something is not done to re-orientate the youths then the future will be one filled with many graduates with nothing to put food on their table and that of their family, answers like “ I will like to work with NNPC,”I will want to go into politics and have my own share of the national cake” “everybody wants to get his or her own share of the national cake but nobody wants to go close to the oven where this cake is been baked”. In 1960s, agriculture accounted for 65-70% of total exports; it fell to about 40% in the 1970s, and crashed to less than 2% in the late 1990s. Agriculture was Nigeria’s main source of income before the discovery of crude oil which many see today as “sharp sharp money” after crude oil was discovered the government shifted all its attention from agriculture, today the result for this past action is the cause of all the social vices we experience today. Things like political unrest, excessive quest for power, a generation of youths who want to enjoy without suffering, a generation where young men will want to see the elderly suffer in the name of kidnapping for a ransom, a country where immorality has become a major source of income for young healthy ladies, all these happen as a result of excessive love for wealth without proportional effort to acquire this wealth.
The total land area of Nigeria is approximately 923.771km2, while the population growth rate is growing alarmingly high annually. As our total land area is fixed, which cannot be increased, therefore, with rapidly expanding population pressure on it, it is also decreasing quickly. As a result, our current and potential agricultural land is reducing and shrinking tremendously.
Agriculture is currently the employer of most of Africa’s young people, and likely to remain so in the future. But to meet the aspirations of millions for rewarding work, Africa’s agricultural sector will have to change remarkably. Today’s agriculture of the machete and the hand hoe does not appeal to young Africans or to policy-makers. Farming is often not even viewed as a “job” by many young Africans, who instead reserve the term for other forms of employment requiring clean clothes and a desk. Yet for a generation of young people entering adulthood, agriculture offers the best opportunity to move out of poverty and build satisfying lives.
The present government came with a lot of promises to revitalize the agricultural sector of our economy which had once fed this nation and nations far and wide with her cocoa, groundnut, Palm oil (not crude oil), rubber, hides and skins etc. Almost four years now, one can confidently claim that much of these promises are being kept in the Agricultural sector, future agribusiness professionals will be some of the most highly
skilled people on earth, and the envy of the executive class if only government at all levels will address the challenges of food shortage by investing more in Agriculture, youths should be encouraged to go into agriculture and provision should be made to assist such youths, not just “Television Agriculture” where people only talk but are not going close to vacant farm lands to cultivate it. The old generations of farmers are seriously dying out in their large numbers because of hard labor due to manual agriculture; government should complement their efforts by providing modern equipments. Making agriculture look attractive should be the goal of those in Government.
Series of Agricultural Schemes in Nigeria proposed by President Goodluck Jonathan since he assumed office has yielded positive result. Coordinating various initiatives to grow businesses in agriculture has always been the Presidents goal. President Goodluck Jonathan has said his administration is targeting about 3.5 million jobs from the agricultural sector by 2015, out of which 1.3 million will be from cassava processing. Nigerian youths should take advantage of this, be creative and create minor jobs. Government cannot employ everybody. We all must start rebranding our mindsets, especially the youths who are the future leaders of the country. We need to diversify the economy and build a creative generation where life will be meaningful with or without “oil money” A nation where we can sleep at night with stomach full of food cultivated and harvested in Nigeria. This is the greener pastures dream.
(This piece is from the Book“AGRICULTURE THE ANSWER TO YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT” BY: GAIUS CHIBUEZE.) GREENER PASTURES INITIATIVE(CREATING A SECURE FUTURE THROUGH AGRICULTURE) For sponsorship,support,for the Launching of the book, Call 07066997274 Emailemail@example.com. Facebook; Gaiuschibueze