Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has stressed that a country with a population of close to 200 million has to be able to feed itself, insisting that “We cannot rely on importing food.”
This comes as the President reiterated his administration’s commitment to jobs for the country’s massive youth population.
Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina reported on Buhari”s comments from a meeting in Abuja with Guy Ryder, the Director General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
According to him, “In the last four years, this government prioritised Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure development. Our focus in these areas was to create jobs today and ensure peace and equitable prosperity for future generations.”
The President added that it was impossible to continue to import food with the nation’s population.
“On agriculture, it was simple; a country with a population of close to 200 million has to be able to feed itself. We cannot rely on importing food.”
President Buhari told the ILO chief that his government had “attacked head-on the big deficit in Power, Roads, Bridges, Rails and Housing … in order to ensure adequate housing is available today and for many years to come.”
He attributed some of the achievements of his government so far to consultations before taking critical decisions affecting the labour force:
“Our achievements to date were as a result of strategic fiscal and monetary policy decisions. In some instances, we partnered with stakeholders such as the labour unions.
“A good example was during the African Continental Free Trade Agreement review and the National Minimum Wage negotiations. This consultative approach aligns with the vision of the ILO to keep communications open, create jobs, ensure social justice and eliminate worker exploitation.”
President Buhari used the opportunity to congratulate the international organisation on its 100th year anniversary.
Earlier in his remarks, Mr Ryder told the President that he was in Nigeria to attend the Global Youth Employment Forum where over 60 countries have gathered to address practically the most pressing challenge of finding decent jobs for young people. He also expressed the commitment of the Organisation to existing partnership and cooperation with Nigeria.
“We have worked with the Labour Ministry to prepare employment policies about youth employment, migration safety and health productivity. The focus is the practical implementation of these plans,” he said.