Address unemployment if you want to tackle banditry, kiddnapping – Obasanjo tells Tinubu

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has said the activities of bandits and kidnappers in Nigeria have increased due to the unemployment situation in the country.

Obasanjo spoke during his address at the 9th International Trade Exhibition and Conference on Agrofood, Plastics, Printing, and Packaging which was held in Lagos on Tuesday.

The trade fair was jointly organised by FairTrade Messe and the Organisation for Technology Advancement of Cold Chain in West Africa.

“Of course, if we are able to achieve this, it will improve our security. Part of our insecurity are men and women that are not properly engaged. If we are able to give them employment, there will be less of them getting involved in banditry, in kidnapping and in doing various other criminal activities that they get involved in,” Obasanjo noted.

The former president, who described himself as “a mad man for agriculture” said there was need to promote agribusiness for food security, nutrition security, employment, wealth creation, poverty elimination and income generation, particularly, foreign exchange.

According to him, the drive toward food security in the country must encapsulate food availability, affordability and accessibility.

Obasanjo said, “A friend of mine said to me, you must be a madman. I asked him what he meant, and he said if I was not a mad man I would not have gone into agriculture. So, I am a madman for agriculture. When it has to do with agriculture, you can be sure that when you call me, I will answer.

“Food security starts with availability. We must be able to produce enough. Then there is affordability. We must be able to get everybody who needs food to be able to get the food that they need. Then there is accessibility. We must get food to where it is needed.

“Almost 40 per cent of our food go to waste after cultivation. So, food security and nutrition security makes agribusiness important.”

Speaking further, Obasanjo noted that one of the most potent means of curbing youth emigration, unemployment and insecurity is to get more young people to embrace agriculture.

He regretted that Nigerian youths often prefer to explore opportunities in the entertainment industry, which underscores the need to make agriculture more glamorous.

He also called on policymakers at all levels to ensure policy consistency that would allow farmers to set short and long term targets without worrying about possible policy somersaults which may topple their plans.

A key part of this, he said, involved making single-digit loans available to farmers, as no agribusiness can produce profitably with double digit loans.

He added, “First is employment, with our teeming population and the problem we have with our youths going over the desert and risking their lives at the Mediterranean will stop. What can we do to give them enough employment at home?

“The area that is sure to provide employment for our teeming youth population is agriculture. When you talk about agriculture, not many of them will want to come to the farm, they will rather go into the music that they do now. We have to make agriculture glamorous because these youths, they make money that way (through music), and then you are asking them to come to the farm. They won’t want to.”