To eradicate youth restiveness and all forms of criminality dogging the nation, the Federal Government must spend more to create jobs for the youths.
This was part of the solutions proffered by the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in his speech as the Chairman of the 2021 Sardauna Memorial Lecture held on Saturday at the Arewa House, Kaduna.
The topic was: “Reduction of the Cost of Governance for Inclusive Growth and Youth Development in Northern Nigeria in a Post-COVID-19 Era.”
Though he commended President Muhammadu Buhari for carefully steering the country through the COVID-19 pandemic such that the negative impact on the nation and its economy has been minimized, Tinubu noted that the economy still “remains weak with too much unemployment and resources left idle.”
“The development of any populous nation has always been dependent on the ability of government to allocate sufficient funds to projects and programmes that create and encourage enduring growth and employment,” he said.
“Government can be wasteful or it can be the key component to growth, just as a private sector business can function profitably or spend itself into bankruptcy.
“The issue is not whether government is spending money or not. The real issue is the economic utility and quality of the expenditure.”
Tinubu said what Nigeria’s economy needs at a time like this is fiscal wisdom, and not necessarily austerity, to ensure equitable wealth redistribution and meaningful use of resources.
Since, according to him, the private sector has proven to be too weak to spur the growth the nation needs, the government must fill the void by embarking on what he described as ‘activist fiscal policy’ “to create jobs, build infrastructure and develop our industrial sector as well as continue to improve agriculture.
“This means government must spend money but spend it on those things that bring the requisite economic returns for the nation.”
Tinubu said there is an urgent need to think outside the box in finding solutions to the challenges posed by the unemployed youths – and that the federal government is at an advantage over the states to do this.
While the states and local government must shape their budgets to fit their revenues, he stressed, “the federal government can and should spend more to create more jobs for the youths in both the North and South, which is key to eradicating restiveness and sundry criminality among the youths.”
He observed that the nations that recovered most quickly from the 2009 economic crisis and now from COVID-19 are those that most engaged in government stimulus spending to revive their flagging economies.
He said: “This was not by accident. It is due to purposeful policy and the deeper understanding of the nature of money and the role of a national government in saving a flagging economy. Thus, America recently embarked on US$1.9 trillion stimulus to buoy the economy.
“It was not said that this government spending would erode jobs but that it would create them. Thus, we should not be so against government spending. If it is for the right purposes, it can do essential things that the private sector cannot. What we should be against is wasteful government spending.”
Tinubu particularly suggested government’s increased spending on building vital infrastructure such as irrigation and water catchment systems to help develop agriculture, arrest desertification and provide jobs.
On the issue of herder/farmer conflicts, the APC National Leader warned that “martial security measures alone will not suffice,” saying that problems that are of an economic origin must also have an economic solution.
“Enhanced security may be the necessary first step, but it cannot be the only step. We cannot resolve this problem by holding on to one-dimensional answers,” he noted.
According to the former two-term Governor of Lagos State, issues of insecurity, poverty, unemployment and extremism all have many things to do with governance, over time.
He added: “We would do well to more critically study how other populous nations such as the UK, US, Germany and China charted their course during their formative years.
“You will see that they did not adhere to small government or the purportedly free market. Government engaged in massive spending on infrastructure and education while also engaging in policies that protected industrial development and key aspects of the agricultural sector.
“Only when they matured and held advantages over other nations did the UK and US begin to champion free markets and small government. We would do well to understand this history and learn what it means for our own pursuit of development.”