Nasarawa state governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, on Sunday said that his administration has resorted to using the security vote his office receives to pay over 1,400 youths engaged by the state government under the Nasarawa Youth Empowerment Scheme (NAYES). The governor, who disclosed this in Lafia, shortly after inspecting road projects in Adudu, Keana and Agyaragu areas, explained that his resort to the security vote was because of the zero allocation to the scheme in the 2014 budget approved by the Nasarawa state House of Assembly. “I have decided to pay the money for NAYES from my own security vote and I have already converted them to my own Special Assistants(SAs); let them do the work,” he said, adding, “It is not about nomenclature, but about service and about engaging them so that they don’t become liabilities on the streets”.
Although Governor Al-Makura did not state precisely why the state Assembly withheld accent to his proposed spending on the youth empowerment scheme, it was all too obvious that the proposal was a victim of the state’s bitter opposition politics. Nasarawa state is controlled by the All Progressives Congress (APC), while the state Assembly is under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
However, not deterred by the negative response of the state legislators to his planned mass employment scheme, Al-Makura said that he would use the security vote to do more towards empowering people of the state not captured by “the statutory and bureaucratic enclave of the government”.He said, “Let me extend and expand the scope of that distribution of the dividends of democracy. I am going to do that for the youth, the disabled, market women and the aged.Each of these categories of people will get N20,000 monthly support called “seed money”. He assured of “conventional employment opportunities whenever Nasarawa’s revenue improves.”
We salute Al-Makura’s vision that allows him to think out of the box to meet the yearnings and expectations of his people. It is the first time that a governor would declare openly to allocate the often abused and misused security vote to a worthy cause such as a youth empowerment scheme. Many of his colleagues fritter away this vote in unproductive ventures, including politicking.
But while commending Al-Makura’s vision in this regard, we hasten to advise him explore the numerous other funding options available to him that would guarantee the sustainability of the youth empowerment scheme, even after he leaves office. We need not remind the governor that the security vote is a tenuous source of funding for his NAYES which his successor may not welcome. Conversely, he should bend over a little to persuade the adamant state legislators to approve funding of the scheme. We do not recommend bribing them, however. Besides, he can push through legislation to institutionalise the scheme. This may be difficult with this crop of legislators, but again some diplomacy may do the trick.
What more, we believe that education is the key to empowering the youth. Al-Makura should emulate his Kano state colleague, Dr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, by offering special scholarships to sons and daughters of Nasarawa state from poor homes to acquire higher and qualitative education that will offer better job prospects. The “seed money” he is giving out may serve the immediate purpose of keeping the unemployed youths off the streets. But for how long?