With the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic biting harder by the day, youths in Niger State have told the state government and Federal Government to take adequate step to equitably share the palliatives meant for them without further delay.
They told the state governor and other top officials at an enlarged stakeholders’ meeting in the state capital that they did not want to disrupt the sharing of the food items by breaking into warehouses as has been done by unruly elements in some states of the country.
But they made it clear to the governor, who was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Mohammad Ahmed Ketso, at the meeting, which also had some powerful traditional rulers, politicians and top government officials in attendance, that they knew all the locations where foods were being kept and that nobody could deprive them of their fair share of the items.
Major youth organisations in the state, whose agitation for improved welfare, security and job creation prompted the meeting convened by Ambassador Zubairu Dada, came out openly to speak out their minds regarding recent protests over police brutality and sharing of COVID-19 palliatives and demanded prompt action to end lingering suffering in the state.
The Chairman, Northern Coalition of the Youths, Comrade Mohammed Mohammed, who spoke extensively on the issues which they want government at both national and state levels to resolve for them, lamented that they had been taken for granted in recent years by the administration despite displaying a high level of maturity, support and understanding with the government.
He said the youths were unhappy with the government for not addressing the problem of insecurity, unemployment and police brutality which made some other youths to descend on public and private property, while they teamed up with the government to prevent looting and destruction in the state.
“We are not happy with the way this government at all levels has treated us because we have met with them and discussed various issues aimed at improving our lot but no action has ever been taken to implement any of the decisions reached with the government,” Mohammed lamented.
“We the youths in Niger State embarked on a peaceful protest in the state and also called it off because of the love we have for our state. We know the roads to the various warehouses where the palliatives meant for the people are kept, but we decided not to go and loot because we are not hoodlums.
“We decided to localise our agitations to our internal problems-insecurity, bad roads, epileptic power supply, among others, and we, therefore, call on the state government to distribute the palliatives to those concerned now since it is meant for emergency and it should therefore be treated as such immediately,” Mohammed warned. Adding a strong voice to that, the Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Comrade Bello Barau Sharif said they were lovers of Nigeria who believe in the unity and development of Nigeria and therefore opted against any form of destruction while other youths from other parts of the country were on the rampage destroying anything on sight in the name of protest against the police.
Sharif said: “For us in Niger State, we did not protest against the scrapping of SARS but for its reformation because we are faced with insecurity here and we are of the strong belief that the disbanded unit can play a big role in bringing peace to our local government areas already taken over by bandits.
“We also refused to vandalise government and personal properties and businesses of people because it would amount to destroying our own properties and later come back to the round table to dialogue and iron out our differences after destruction must have been made. “However, we appeal to government at all levels not to see our calmness, maturity and simplicity as being cowards. “A time will come when you will want to dialogue with us but you won’t be able to locate us and even if you locate us, it will be very difficult to access and plead with our over one million jobless colleagues in the state, and even if we eventually succeed accessing them, they may not listen to us,” he declared.
Sharif called on the Federal Government to take immediate steps to fix all federal roads in the state and sign the HYPADEC bill into law to cater for the various communities submerged by flood.
The convener of the meeting, Ambassador Dada, called on people of the state to shun any form of violence, adding that going violent will not in any way solve the existing problems confronting the nation.
“Let us give peace a chance; violence cannot solve any problem, but rather aggravate it. Development is a gradual process and it entails commitment and discipline by all Nigerians to succeed,” he remarked.