By Philip Yatai
Kaduna, Oct. 3, 2020 AID Foundation, an NGO, on Saturday, expressed concern over what it described as “neglect” of the agricultural and youth development sectors by the Kaduna State Government.
The Executive Director of the NGO, Mr Emmanuel Bonet, made the observations as a panelist, during a virtual Kaduna State 2021 Draft Budget Townhall Meeting, with the theme, “Budget of Recovery”.
Bonet said: “I see these two sectors as being neglected, considering the poor budgetary allocation to the sectors in the state’s annual budgets.
“This is even when agriculture for example, contributes 38 per cent to the state’s GDP, which simply means money in the hands of the citizens.
“Therefore, if a single sector contributes 38 per cent to the GDP, then the government should do everything possible to make agriculture a priority due to its potential in transforming the state’s economy
“If well-funded, agriculture will create more jobs, increase income of farmers, empower women and reduce insecurity among other challenges.”
On youth development, Bonet pointed out that 65 per cent of the population are young people, which if empowered could turn the economic fortunes of the state for good.
He urged the state government to carry out needs assessment of the unemployed, underemployed and the unemployable youths in the state and aligned them with a skill gap to make them more productive.
He thanked the state government for ensuring that the Community Development Charter (CDC) informed the budget at the local government level in the last five years.
He, however, stressed the need to institutionalise the CDC process to ensure that all the 23 Local Government Areas of the state open spaces for citizens to engage the budget process.
Bonet expressed concern on budget realism, pointing out that the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework 2021 -2023, has recommended a budget of N170 billion for 2021.
“But here we are seeing the draft budget overshooting the MTEF recommendation to over N230 billion. This is worrisome because the budget performance in the last five years has been very poor.
“It is not about making huge budgetary allocation, but the ability to generate the needed funds to finance the budget,” he said.
Responding, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Hajiya Halima Lawal, agreed with Bonet position, noting that most African countries were yet to implement the Maputo declaration of 2003.
Lawal said that the African countries have agreed to allocate 10 per cent of their total budget to agriculture and expressed optimism that allocation to the sector would improve from the 2022 budget.
Similarly, the Commissioner for Human Services and Social Development, Hajiya Hafsat Baba, noted the gap in the budget estimate for youth development, adding that efforts would be made to improve intervention in the area.
Naija247news reports that the government has proposed to spend N237.5 billion in 2021 fiscal year, out of which N157.6 billion was earmarked for capital projects while N79.96 billion was for recurrent expenditure.
Of the N157.6 capital expenditure, the agricultural sector got N10.3 billion, of which N7.6 billion was from Federal Government’s Agro.
Processing Productivity, Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) and N2.8 billion from World Bank Nigeria CARES Programme.