The Senior Special Advisor to President Muhammadu Buhari on Youth and Student’s Matters, Hon. Nasiru Sa’idu Adhama in this interview with the MONTAGE AFRICA’s Aliyu Sulaiman, explained the challenges facing the government, especially on the issue of youth unemployment and plans to address them.
MONTAGE AFRICA (MA): What are some of the challenges you’ve had to address since your appointment?
Adhama: One of the challenges is that, the office does not have any budget and some people may not know that. Secondly, with the rate of unemployment in the country, the youth expect the office to be a savior. Therefore, you have to think of how to create jobs for them. And there’s the challenge of making them understand the policies and reforms of the government by creating a linkage, which is a challenging one.
MA: What are your plans in addressing these issues?
Adhama: Apart from advising the President on youth and student matters from time to time, we have designed programmes to provide employment in the area of skills acquisition and entrepreneurship, in Agriculture, in ICT and in many areas. Regardless of whether the office has budget or not, we have designed programmes that require the use of social intervention funds to execute.
MA: Can you shed light on the recently launched textile and garment programme?
Adhama: The Textiles and Garment Empowerment programme is designed to solve the unemployment challenges in the country. It is designed to create an avenue for the skilled and unskilled youth to be trained and to have all equipment and logistics to enable them start a new business. We look at the area of textile and garment because it provides the second largest employment in the country. We have many industries closed; therefore the government has injected intervention funds into them and will allow free market flow for them.
The programme will provide 6000 direct jobs and over a million indirect jobs. It will start from farming, fabric and then processing before coming to the youth for sewing. We have created a linkage whereby the local governments and states will patronize their products. We have about twenty million students in both primary and secondary schools and you hardly see their clothes been sewn in Nigeria.
Therefore, if there is a policy which says you must patronize made in Nigeria products, school uniforms, military, paramilitary and hospitals bed sheets will be sewn in the country; by doing that, you have already created a market for them. So, the programme will not only create employment but will boost our economy.
MA: How do you select the youths that qualify to participate in the programme?
Adhama: We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past where machines are provided, then collected and sold by the beneficiaries. Therefore, we are targeting the skilled and unskilled. In a nutshell, we are targeting all. As such, we have simple criteria whereby those with certificates are expected to provide them while those without certificates will form cooperative societies.
MA: How will you react to comments on the economic hardship facing Nigerians, and are we making headway?
Adhama: Looking at what the president met on ground upon assuming office over a year ago, I’d say, yes he has done tremendously well in the area of security and is working hard on economy. It is an open challenge. When he came onboard the price of crude oil which was the main source of income to the country has fallen down drastically. It was a difficult situation but thank God he has initiated the diversification of the economy in the area of Agriculture and Solid minerals. With these I am very confident and optimistic the challenges will go away. There is hope and you know changes do not come easy.
We were in a mess for over sixteen years; people did not know that Nigeria was broke. Only God knows what would have happened if Nigerians did not change the previous administration. First, we thank God for making the change possible and secondly to Nigerians for the confident they have for Muhammadu Buhari. We know the hardship Nigerians are facing; we are feeling the pain too because we are with them. They are not smiling. The problems were not created deliberately to hurt their feelings, no. It’s because the situation warrants it but Mr. President is doing everything possible to alleviate their suffering. He is trying to restore the past economic, political and social glories of Nigeria.
MA: Finally what message do you have for the Nigerian youth?
Adhama: I will thank the Nigerian Youth for their understanding and patience. They have been supporting this government and they have confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari. He will not let them down and is doing everything possible to the best interest of the Nigerian youth. They have made a lot of sacrifice and their sacrifice will not go in vein. MA