By Kayode Adegbehingbe
While the government needs to have money to take care of the many needs of the people, there is a limit to what it can do. Regardless of how much effort the government makes, there will be some needs that the individual needs to meet on his own.
Regardless of how much the government does in provision for the people, how good-hearted those elected to different offices, it may not necessarily translated to provision of food on the table for everyone.
In doing its best, the Ondo State government made certain things available for free or at little cost.
There are free shuttle buses to take students to and from their schools; making use of some government health facilities is largely free for pregnant women and children under five. As is commonly so, the education and health system are largely matters of social welfare for the people.
Even in the arena of agriculture, Ondo State government provides opportunities and subsidies for different farm inputs, loans are provided for marketmen and women, to artisans, to businessmen and women. Those represent a cross section of the intervention of government in the lives of the people.
The federal government has promised that it will set up a school feeding programme, that is supposed to open up economic opportunities for the farmers who will cultivate the needed food products. That is a laudable programme, but similar programmes in the past were bugged down in the mire of corruption. That should be a word of caution.
In 2016 budget speech of President Muhammadu Buhari, he said that the 500000 more teachers will be employed. Across board, there is a deficit of teachers, and the injection of such an amount of jobs into the economy will help, it will creating a positive ripple effect.
Whether all these will be delivered in view of the biting economic situation is another matter altogether.
Even if everything gets done, there will still be much more to do, as the population keeps growing.
That is why, as we are entering into a new phase of electioneering in this state, those who are vying for different posts should focus on how to address the issue of the youth unemployment. They should know that just churning out rhetoric will not be enough this time around.
Across Africa, youth unemployment is something of a concern, and government need to come up with holistic ways of dealing with it.
For the Ondo State government, it’s effort towards the solving this gnawing need of youth unemployment has been focused on opening the agricultural sector to them, with some results already recorded, as championed by the Wealth Creation Agency.
That sector has the potential of absorbing thousands in view of the relative advantage of the state with the weather and soil type. However, while looking at the agricultural sector there are associated industries that should also draw our attention.
For example, the recent policy of the government to stop the sale of forex for the importation of certain items that we can produce in Nigeria, has almost put the tomato paste makers out of business.
Just last week, the branch of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria for tomato paste makers paid a visit to the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, to curry his favour, asking to be able to get dollars to fund their usual and needed importation of tomato concentrate.
The Senate president reportedly shunned them, saying that they should look inward, source for the raw material they need in the country, or set up industries here to take care of their own needs. With that kind of mindset, when we translate that to other agricultural products, a whole new door of opportunity is opened.
To make money means you take advantage of the opportunities around, solve problems that affects a lot of people. That involves creative thinking, seizing the opportunities. That is why we need creative people in government, so they can cast their influence, that more people can make more money to take care of their personal needs.