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EDITORIAL

Unskilled Youth, A Tickling Bomb

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Unskilled Youth, a Ticking Bomb 

Data from the Demographic Statistics Bulletin of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that in the Nigeria population pyramid, majority of the population lies between ages 0–14. Closely followed is youth aged 16-30. Estimates also indicate that youth form at least half of Nigeria’s projected 200 million population.

The implication of this is that Nigeria has a high dependency rate, with a huge chunk of the dependent population entering the working age group on a daily basis. The growth of the youth population comes with attendant effects, among them  pressure on education and amenities.Ordinarily and for a production-driven economy, an increase in labour force is a good indication of increase in the number of those considered to be of working age and thus not dependent on the economic activities of others, which should have a positive impact on overall economic growth, creating a demographic dividend.
The ability of an economy to harness this dividend, would, however, be dependent on its ability to ensure the deployment of this growing working-age population towards productive economic act. This is where Nigeria has failed, as there is no clear cut government policy to create new job opportunities to meet up the increase in labour force population, a situation that puts severe pressure on a nation with a GDP performing below par. More saddening is the reality that many of this young people, according to the United Nations, arealmost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and continuously exposed to lower quality of jobs, greater labour market inequalities, and longer and more insecure school-to-work transitions. This is in addition to women, who are more likely to be underemployed and under-paid, and to undertake part-time jobs or work under temporary contracts.These idle youth become ready fodder for use by politicians as thugs and get involved in all manner of crimes, including armed robbery, kidnapping and cybercrime which have become prevalent among young people in the country. Unemployment also makes the youth susceptible to involvement in dubious ponzi schemes and gambling, losing a lot of money in the process. Some frustrated youth have even taken their lives to end their suffering.Amidst the huge youth unemployment rate, there is a disconnect between traditional academic skills and other technical and soft skills required in the 21st century workplace. The current situation makes it imperative for more youths to acquire relevant technical and soft skills to enable them fit into the 21st Century work place to develop careers. Such skills, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-based activities and programmes, will prepare the youth as contributors to the economic development of the country. Employment-ready skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, communication, collaboration and analytical skills would be required to reverse the effects of youth bulges, in addition to specific policies such as creating more jobs and improving family planning programmes and uptake of family planning commodities to address the population growth.On the occasion of this years World Youth Skills Day, which is marked every July 15, we urge the government to put in place policies that will prioritise skills training and job creation for the large number of young people who will be entering the workforce to reap the demographic dividend, which is the accelerated economic growth which can happen as the population age structure changes with investment in health, education, economic policy and good governance. Harnessing this demographic dividend is in the country’s best interest. 

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EDITORIAL

Flood: Where Federal Government Dropped the Ball

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About 31 states of the federation are currently affected by flood. In the list are: Abia, Imo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Kebbi, Adamawa, Anambra, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Niger, Ekiti, Enugu, Delta, Benue, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Sokoto, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Lagos,  Taraba, Yobe, Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

In the front row of the devastation are Bayelsa, which is almost totally inundated, given its low lying topography, so also Rivers, Nasarawa, Kogi and Benue.

While it is estimated that over 700 Nigerians, mostly women and children have drowned in the flood, Nigeria’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, through its Permanent Secretary, Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, while announcing federal government’ flood mitigation action plan, mid last month, put the human casualty estimate at more than 500, with 1,500 injured and about 1.4 million displaced.

He acknowledged that the disaster had impacted farmlands across the 31 affected states, making the 2012 flood incident pale in weight and significance and the present one worst in annals, at least as far as the memories of the victims can take them.


On her part, Sani-Gwarzo’s supervising minister,  Sadiya Umar Farouq says approximately 2,776 persons have been injured and 612 persons dead across the country due to the devastating effects of the floods. Putting more numbers to havoc, Farouq said that 181,600 houses have been partially damaged and  123,807, damaged totally. In addition, 176,852 hectares of farmlands she disclosed have been partially damaged while 392,399 hectares are damaged totally.

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With the damage, all the crops in the farmlands in the flooded areas of the affected states have all perished, heightening the fear of increased food shortages in the country. In Nasarawa State for instance, the over $15 million worth of Olam Rice Farm, covering 4,500 hectares of land was destroyed alongside some physical farm infrastructure such as dykes, canals and drainage worth $8 million.


In all of these, Sani-Garzo revealed that the interventionist ministry has only been able to reach out to about 300,000 of the victims with food and non-food items. This figure, Farouq clarified, spread across 31 states of the federation.


This is paltry by every measure for a disaster which well-meaning Nigerians have called that it should be designated a national emergency by the federal government or at least that the government sets up a presidential relief committee for the victims’ support.


While no such far-reaching drastic measures was considered, it became rather agonizing seeing that the responses of the national government to the widespread disaster, lacked life and spirit. While federal government’s palliatives are manifestly sparring and slow in coming, the three months period within which President Buhari wants the Minister of Water Resources and his Transportation counterpart alongside state governments to afford him a Comprehensive Plan of Action for Preventing Flood Disaster in Nigeria could be anything but urgent in the face of the deaths and devastation.

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Some states at the moment have   as many as 12 temporary displaced peoples camps, spread in school premises and worship centres, all crawling with people whose bedrooms can now only be accessed with canoe.


Even a visit to any of the worst-hit states by President Muhammadu Buhari could have sent a signal of empathy to the affected being the leader of the nation. But we saw none of it. Not even to Nasarawa and Kogi-states which are contiguous to the federal seat of power-much less the far-flung Bayelsa, Delta, Anambra, Imo, Kano, Adamawa, Rivers and Benue. This is even as nearby Lokoja, the Kogi State capital,  was cut off from the rest of the country by the flood for two long weeks, triggering fuel scarcity and cost additions to the runaway food price inflation in the FCT.


Buhari’s disinterest to empathize with the citizens with a visit ran counter to calls by different groups and tendencies in the country on him to go and fraternize with the broken and bereaved citizens. The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) which wanted him to come to any of the states of Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states, to see for himself the level of damage and destruction caused by the flood noted that such aligned with the practice of other national leaders when natural disasters strike their countries and citizens.

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DAILY ASSET strongly feels that the federal government underestimated the carnage caused by the flood or perhaps initially felt unconcerned about it, given that Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) gave early warning about the flood, by pointing to increased rainfall this year and release of water by Cameroonian authorities in its Lagdo Dam which usually inundates River Benue and its tributaries and communities along its flood plains. It needs to be pointed out, however, that no circumstance or reason can excuse a government for leaving its citizens in the lurch or to stew in their own juice.


Apart from the early warning, what was the next proactive measure the federal government took in trying to protect the lives and properties of the citizens in flood endangered communities? The answer is none!

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EDITORIAL

National Defence College Graduates 2,549 Participants in 30 Years – Commandant

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The Commandant, National Defence College (NDC), Rear Adm. Murtala Bashir, said the college has graduated no fewer than 2,549 participants from within and outside Nigeria in its 30 years of existence.

Bashir stated this while briefing newsmen on the college 30th Anniversary and Graduation of Course 30 Participants of NDC on Monday in Abuja.

The commandant was represented by the Deputy Commandant and Director of Studies, NDC, Maj.-Gen. Emeka Anumajuru.

He said that 216 of the participants were drawn from strategic Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); 92 from Nigerian Police and 254 international participants from allied nations.

According to him, among the participants were people who had reached the pinnacle of their career in the various services and MDAs.

The commandant said the college deemed it necessary to mark its 30th anniversary, having been able to record landmark success stories, especially in the remit of its mandate.

According to him, the college has the mandate to train selected senior military officers, their counterparts from strategic MDAs and the police to be able to operate at the strategic level within and outside the country.

“We insist our participants understand how to use the entire gamut of elements of national power to be able to achieve strategic objectives.

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“That, in a nutshell, is the mandate of the college and that is what we strive to achieve since 1992 that the college was established.

Bashir said that NDC was a key arm of National Defence Diplomacy because of its level of interaction between the college and members of the armed forces from foreign countries.

He said the college could pride itself in advancing the nation’s defence diplomacy and ultimately the national foreign policy of Nigeria.

According to him, the college, too, is a centre of excellence in the conduct of peace support operations as a strategic level.

He added that NDC was a key partner in AU and ECOWAS in advancing peace support operations, particularly as regards the theoretical components that advance the missions at the strategic level.

The commandant also said that NDC could pride itself in corporate social responsibility in its host communities such as Ushafa in terms of provision of infrastructures, medical outreach, schools and even scholarship.

He said that series of programmes had been lined up for the 30th anniversary such as sports, humanitarian activities and award night as well as graduation lecture and graduation course 30 participants.

According to him, so many of the participants have been service chiefs in their armed forces.

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“This year will be honouring two of them who are current service chiefs from Burkina Faso and Uganda.

“So, when you graduate participants who rise to the position of service chiefs in their respective countries, of course you have a link to those countries because we will monitor their progresses and they remain part of us. (NAN)

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EDITORIAL

In Support Of The Ban On Open Grazing 

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After years of indecision, procrastination and dilly dallying, the Federal Government last week took a firm decision to ban open grazing of cattle across the country. The implementation of the ban will however take-off on a pilot basis in five states of the Federation-Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa and Zamfara.

The decision was taken by the National Economic Council (NEC) after its meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who made the decision public on behalf NEC also said the Council equally banned the free movement of cattle and other animals across the Nigerian border from other West African countries, regardless of the relevant protocol of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which guarantees free movement of people and goods within the sub-region.

We welcome the decision of NEC even though it is coming late in the day when the country has witnessed unnecessary spilling of blood from incessant clashes between Herdsmen and farmers nationwide.

The clashes which have become a national security concern, it is hoped will abate since the Herdsmen will by the new decision adopt to ranching which is the global best practice in animal husbandry.

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We are even the more happier that the decision was not based on political or  religious sentiments but a product of the report of the  technical committee earlier set up by Council under the chairmanship of Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi.

Umahi’s Committee traversed the states where the farmers-Herders clashes have been most prevalent, i.e Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau and Zamfara states. During the fact-finding visits, the Committee met with all stakeholders including farmers, security agencies, state governors, leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and Miyetti Allah Kautal Horel, among others.

In all the meetings, ranching was canvassed as the most enduring solution to the bloodletting occasioned by the farmers-Herders clashes. The Committee was therefore, left with no better option than recommend the ban on open grazing of cows.

The NEC decision has at long last vindicated the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and his Taraba state counterpart, Darius Dickson Ishaku, both of who enacted the anti-open grazing law as a panacea to the frequent violent clashes between farmers and the Herdsmen. It can be said therefore, that the two governors understood the issues and the best solution and indeed acted appropriately. It is to their credit that  NEC arrived at the same solution the two governors proffered several months earlier.

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While we commend NEC for the courage to take this decision, the security agencies especially the police and the Department of State Services(DSS) must immediately commence the enforcement of this ban otherwise the Federal Government decision would pass as one of the  rhetorical statements commonly associated with politicians when confronted with difficult situations. 

As has been severally argued by experts, Nigeria with a little over 26million cattle should have no problem operating ranches since countries like India, Brazil, Argentina and the US with upward 100million cattle have long practiced ranching.

What more, animal scientists have since established that the nomadic cows produced less milk and poor quality meat compared to those kept in ranches.

The Federal Government should live up to its words to provide subsidies for animal husbandry as recommended by the Umahi Committee.

In our view, the subsidies should come by way of

If the NEC decision is properly implemented, Nigeria would have just began the journey towards a profitable and healthier cattle rearing business through the ranching model.

Most importantly, the NEC decision banning the free movement of

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