LAGOS, Nigeria – A trio of Nigerian bishops advised the government to encourage young people to embrace agriculture as a way to help the country address hunger, youth restiveness and other social challenges.
Bishops Martin Uzoukwu of Minna, George Dodo of Zaria and Calistus Onaga of Enugu also urged the government to boost security measures to protect innocent Nigerians from being killed by insurgents.
Such actions by the government would help reduce tension in rural areas of the country and allow the authorities to focus on improving services such as roads, health care and jobs, the bishops said in early December.
“Engaging the youths in active farming will enable them to contribute positively towards the socio-economic development of the nation,” Uzoukwu said December 7, because the crops produced could be used in country and exported to international markets.
He also called on state and local governments to help fund farm implements to help boost the entry of youth into farming.
“Our country, Nigeria, is blessed with lands that can produce various crops; all that our youths want is motivation through the provision of modern farming implements for us to excel,” he said.
Onaga called on the various tiers of government December 6 to improve salaries and allowances to their workers as a step toward ending the hardships they experience. With greater income, he explained, parents could better feed their children, who would be healthier to assist in crop production for consumption and sales, he said.
“As a leader, even when things are very difficult, you are supposed to give people hope by touching areas that concern their lives,” Onaga said.
Dodo urged government officials to protect the lives of their citizens from terrorist attack.
Nigeria has been besieged by the Boko Haram insurgency since 2009. Thousands of people have been killed in attacks and tens of thousands have been displaced, largely in northeast Nigeria.
Dodo, chairman of the Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, told journalists on December 5 that it was unfortunate for the state government to be calling for the arrest of citizens who wanted to resort to self-defense from attacks when they believe the government was allegedly incapable of protecting them.
“The government is responsible for the protection of the people. That is the essence of governance,” Dodo said. “So, I call on the leadership of the state and the country to bear in mind that protecting the people from external and internal aggressors is the reason people voted for them. So they should rise to that mandate and protect the people.”