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Security, before food, job

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan wants to convince Nigerians that they need security more than food or employment. He is emphatic about the nexus among security, employment and food. The President holds insecurity responsible for the failings of his administration.

It takes humility to admit failure. What would shock Nigerians is the President’s perception of the failure and his conclusion that everything is about security.

He told his party chieftains: “During our campaign, our emphasis was on job creation, power, but now what worries us more is security because you must even be alive before you eat. So, if you are not safe, you can’t even think about hunger because a dead person does not eat. With the situation of things now in the country, the most serious issue in the country is security. We have talked about food security but you can’t have food without personal security.” We contest these positions.

If the administration would put food and job creation aside, what is left? How will the administration tackle security, which has been blamed on unemployment and poverty? Has a hungry man ceased being an angry man?

What are we securing in a country filled with hungry people? Has the President found out how employment can enhance security? Does he intend to ignore the fact that employed people can fend for themselves better and have greater stake in the country? Will everything wait until there is security?

Insecurity has doubtlessly taken a lot of attention off other programmes. It cannot be allowed to continue paralysing the country. Where a challenge, like security is identified, government should tackle it directly in order to move to other programmes.

Has the administration thought of how robust job creation schemes can take more youth off crimes? The connections between unemployment and crimes are fairly well known. In the Nigerian context, they are worsened by the absence of a social net to cater for the unemployed.

Jobs are important. They define people. They make them more responsible. The employed contribute to the economy, they are engaged enough to turn their minds to more ennobling issues. Where government abandons job creation and extends the abandonment to food security, what is it offering the people?

Agriculture employs millions of Nigerians. Government should do everything to secure it, and the fact that food is important. The argument can go in circles about which is more important, among employment, food, and security.  Each complements the other in great ways that can achieve the totality of the administration’s ambitious transformation agenda.

If the President abandons his transformation agenda, which cuts across all sectors of the country, he would make the country less secure.


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