By Jimoh Babatunde and Daniel Eteghe
Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, yesterday said that the state’s budget for 2011 will address youth empowerment through agriculture, just as he said all what the state have been doing in alleviating poverty and sustainable infrastructural renewal will still remain the focus of the budget.
The Governor noted that the 2011 budget has given the state the capacity to address more seriously the problem of youth unemployment through the agricultural.
“There are general provisions for adult farmers and all of that, but there is a special provision for youth unemployment through the agricultural youth empowerment scheme for graduates. We are moving them to an area where clearly young graduates have not looked enough at.”
Speaking with Airport correspondents at the Presidential wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Governor Raji Fashola said there are enormous opportunities for young farmers in the state through which they can earn a respectable living.
Asked what was budgeted for agriculture in this year’s budget, Fashola said, “I can’t be specific if I don’t have the figures, I’m not a computer. There are so many heads of votes in that budget, I can’t keep that in my head. Even if you keep too much information in the computers, you will have to upgrade the memories.
“But if you want to know, the honourable commissioner for economic planning is holding a world press briefing on the detail components of the budget. So, you can take that up later in the day.”
While disclosing that what the State government has consistently done to improve the lives of the people will continue, Governor Fashola said there are very many components of education also in the budget.
“From the primary level where we contribute a counterpart funds for the SPEB Scheme to core projects where we also make a counterpart funds in collaboration with the World Bank to the many provisions for students, WAEC, examination fees, continuous replacement of desks and chairs in schools and laboratories; continuous rebuilding of classrooms.
“So, all of those provisions are there, but the point I emphasised that we have added again in addition to the general provisions we make for subventions to the tertiary institution in that there is a problem about accreditation, so, this budget has addressed that problem.” On the ongoing Atlantic City and the airport project, Fashola said the project is going on well. “I think you should pay a visit to go and see what is happening there. We have reclaimed 9 million square metres of land and there is still work going on there.
“We have completed the concept design for the airport where we are now doing soil test, which will inform the people who will do the architectural design; decide what kind of foundation, structure requires, and all of that. Once that is completed, we will be able to open up the development of the airport for construction bid and private sector funding.”
Governor Raji Fashola while debunking claims that roads in some locations are being fixed because of voters’registration, he said “We are not a fast food government, we demonstrated our capacity to work, to serve from the very first day and if you look around, even today in the heat of the voter registration, we are still facing governance. We are probably one of the first three governments in the whole of the country who have already signed a budget and are committing to implement it.
“So, we don’t do it because we want to impress anybody, we do it because we take it very seriously as our work. Now, there is a plan to fix all these roads and I can assure you that the road you are talking about is already within our radar and I am the last person to want to say ‘go and do this person’s road’ and all of that.”
He added “Let the system work, we will get to you because if we start doing this run from this local government and that local government, it becomes a fire fighting approach that does not yield the developmental result that we want. I assure you, take my words for it, there is a plan and they are already in your neighborhood. So, if they haven’t got into your street, it doesn’t mean they won’t get there.”