ABUJA—PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, rekindled the hope of jobless youths across the country with assurance of his administration’s readiness to implement recommendations of the National Job Creation Committee to the letter, to move the nation beyond the rhetoric of several job creation schemes of the past.
Speaking at the first ever Presidential Summit on Job Creation at the Presidential Villa, President Jonathan said his government will seize the opportunities that abound in the agricultural and downstream petroleum sectors of the economy to engage the country’s youths productively so they don’t become prey for mischievous elements.
He said: “My vision for Nigeria is that in four years time, our young men and women will be productively engaged so that politicians will not have raw materials to be used as thugs. Energy in human beings is just like atomic energy which can be used for destructive and productive purposes. If we don’t engage the energies of our youths productively, they will be exploited by mischievous elements for destructive purposes.”
President Jonathan lamented that despite several noteworthy initiatives of the past like the Operation Feed the Nation and Green Revolution, the nation is yet to fully exploit the potentials of its agriculture sector and still imports rice.
He added: “We should ask ourselves why these initiatives didn’t work. I won’t be happy to come here after four years, if Nigerians elect me on Saturday, and still talk about rice importation. We must work towards producing enough rice not only for our use as a nation but for massive exports.
“We will endorse and execute all the recommendations of the job creation committee because as a nation, we must move from this point to another point in the next four years.”
While noting that government cannot do it alone, President Jonathan beckoned on private sector investors and development partners to collaborate with government in stepping up skill acquisition for the nation’s youths through the education sector, assuring that government will provide all enabling policies to secure their investments.
Niger State Governor, Alhaji Babangida Aliyu, who spoke on behalf of the governors promised full cooperation with the Federal Government in upholding the local content law in award of contracts.
Aliyu applauded the sincerity and efforts of President Jonathan towards economic transformation, noting that politics is not about sentiments, but about people, service and performance.
He said: “Within a short time, we have seen the performance of Mr. President and we will see more. Mr. President is the chief servant of Nigeria and he will become chief servant come May 29, 2011.”
Minister of Finance, Olusegun Aganga, said government was taking full advantage of labour intensive sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and housing, to deliver on President Jonathan’s N50 billion Public Works programme.
He said government has created a funding plan for 65 critical infrastructure projects that will have the largest economic and social impact ever on the country within the next four years.
Chairman of the National Job Creation Committee and business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said his committee has the mandate to address the emerging dangerous paradox of impressive economic growth but high unemployment rates in the country, pointing out that most youths in Nigeria were either under employed or unemployed at the peak of their productivity.
He listed core recommendations of his committee to include the formulation of government policies that were centered on national interest - for Nigeria and Nigerians; sufficient institutional capacity by government ministries, departments and agencies to execute the policies; private sector
collaboration, involvement and commitment; and, formal monitoring and impact assessment of policy implementation.