Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, has blamed Nigerians’ strong appetite for foreign products as responsible for low production and economic downturn.
He also blamed overpopulation for the growing poverty in the country.
Adegbite spoke in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, at a town hall meeting with the youths as part of the fallout of the #EndSARS protest.
He noted that Nigerians unquenchable thirst for foreign products leads to little or no patronage of the locally made goods, thereby killing indigenous industries.
The Minister also worried that Churches and Mosques are growing at the detriment of the economy, saying we should all be blamed for the country’s woes.
He said: “All the textile industries in the country have collapsed because there is no raw material from cotton production again. Our industrial estates are all gone.
“Churches and mosques are growing, but our industries are collapsing. Churches and mosques that don’t pay taxes and that don’t employ anybody are replacing our industries.
“We are all to be blamed for this. We no longer patronise things locally made in Nigeria, our appetite for foreign goods have destroyed our economy.
“We must all go back home and face reality. Our food production has drastically decreased as our population is growing at high rate.”
He noted that President Muhammadu Buhari is reviving the agricultural sector and urged Nigerians to support the administration towards diversification of the economy through agriculture.
“When there is no production, the country will not develop. Youths should begin to move away from white collar jobs and venture into agriculture.
“When there is no production the country cannot move forward. Production is the only way out,” Adegbite said.
The Minister assured the youths that all their grievances and demands would be tabled before the President for prompt solutions.
He said Nigeria cannot afford to witness another round of protest, capable of further destroying the economy.
Some of the youths who spoke at the meeting lamented lack of employment, inadequate funding for education and neglect of youths as responsible for the recent protest.
They said Nigeria may witness another round of protest, if all the germane issues raised by the youths are not tackle.
In his remarks, the President of Ijebu Youths, Falola Ahmed, urged the government to stop politicising recruitment, saying employment should be merit based.
He also called on government to improve funding for education sector and equally ensure youths are trained with vocational skills in order to reduce search for white collar jobs.
The Minister also promised to empower 60 skilled youths across the state with working tools and equipment.