The illegal arrest of scores of Jigawa youth who were travelling to Lagos in a cargo-like manner by the officials of the state has been the topic of discussion across social media in Nigeria.
People from all over the country condemned the arrest and praised Jigawa State Government under the efficient leadership of His Excellency, Alhaji Muhammad Badaru Abubakar for its timely intervention which prevented the detainees from suffering further ignominy and disgrace.
An incident of this nature usually leaves behind the question: “who is to blame?
It pushes one to ask or think about the factors that pushed them, in the first place, to travel to the country’s commercial capital in search of peanuts by labouring without dignity. While some people have been blaming the state government, others who are aware of the state’s latest agricultural and commercial developments have been rather blaming the okada riders.
After reading a piece authored by one of our respected elders, I realised that there is a need for me to correct some inaccuracies he projected. I also want to state clearly that it is unfair of us to assume or insinuate in any way that the Jigawa State government should carry the blame. In fact, to me, the incident as brought to the front the way some people act in order to ensure that their government fails, by not keying into its policies.
The migration of northern youth or the migration of Jigawa youth, in particular, to the southern part of the country, especially Lagos, Rivers, Bayelsa or Edo has been in existence for ages. To many of them, especially the ones from rural areas, it symbolises their entry into adulthood. To be considered an adult among their peers, they need to travel to the South to ‘hustle’. The nonchalant attitudes of the previous governments on youth empowerment and entrepreneurship initiatives encouraged this unenviable tradition.
Contrary to what some people have been insinuating, the voyagers are not ‘landless and lack opportunities at home. They also do not solely rely on what they earn from the menial jobs they do in the South. In their hometowns, many of them are farmers. It is normally after harvesting their farmlands that they embark on the journey to the South. The journey is normally for two reasons: first, to avoid ‘domestication’, which they see as femine. Secondly, to augment the financial proceeds of their farming.
In the last four years, the Jigawa State government under the able leadership has been working diligently towards invigorating the local economy through youth empowerment and entrepreneurial programmes especially in the sector of agriculture.
The state government, through its cluster farming empowerment programmes alone, have empowered thousands of farmers who are mostly youth.
The initiative was established to broaden the subsistence mindset of the small land holding farmers. They are also being acquainted with the modern methods of farming which allows high commercialisation instead of the farm-to-consume or the meagre proceeds they get from it.
Under the initiative, the state government provides input to farmers and also train them on the application fertilisers, pesticides and the usage of quality seeds. Experts are normally brought to the state for the purpose.
But instead of making an effective use of these tools and opportunities, especially the dry season farming which has been enhanced, the youth would embark on the embarrassing journey to the South. Some of them who collected the tools have sold them to buy motorcycles and sponsor their journey to the South for the profligate life they so much fancy.
The state government has allegedly been grabbing people’s lands. The allegation is more rife on social media. Truth be told, there is a mutual agreement between the owners of the said land and the state government. In fact, the deal greatly profited the affected land owners. Each of them was given a substantial amount of money, automatic employment by the company using the land and another land equivalent to the one negotiated in another place. The company has also offered them the opportunity of farming any crop they want on its land. During harvest the company buys everything at attractive prices. With these, no one would say the deal is not fair.
In view of these, it is baseless to insinuate that the establishment of Mr Lee multi billion naira company and others have turned the youth of Jigawa State into Okada riders and other undignified labour they are rendering in the South.
Looking at the issue objectively, it won’t take long to glean that the youth are the ones rather trying to drag down their government’s tremendous effort towards making sure that they are empowered and and doing well after being empowered. The Lagos detainees would not have faced the embarrassment they faced if they had religiously embraced the opportunities created by the state government.
Mr Kafin Hausa writes from Dutse.