TAN Will Provide Jobs For The Jobless
Ayo Akinola, TAN spokesman
Ayo Akinola is an accomplished media and public relations practitioner. He is a chartered practitioner in advertising and public affairs having been inducted into the profession more than a decade ago. He is also a renowned publisher (of Development and Policy magazine). Akinola is the spokesman of Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, TAN, a group of accomplished Nigerians who are committed to the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda.
In this chat with our correspondent, he maintains that the President means well for the country and every Nigerian needs to support his Transformation Agenda if this country must move forward. He believes that TAN is a vehicle through which every Nigerian of whatever age, profession, class and ethnic group could support the President’s Transformation Agenda.
We have noticed in recent times that some groups including TAN are coming out to advertise the president’s achievements. What is the Agenda behind this?
Thank you very much for this opening question. I cannot speak for other groups. But our own group, the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, TAN, is a non-partisan, non-class, and in fact, a broad-based group of intelligent Nigerians from all walks of life devouted to seeing that this country is moving forward and not backward. And let me tell you this: this President is the most misunderstood president Nigeria has ever had in our history as a nation. This is a president that thinks Nigeria 24/7, works more and speaks less. And this is the reason our group is saying that if our President, who made a solemn transformational pledge of ‘promising less, but delivering more’ about a year ago is gradually succeeding, then it is our duty as patriotic citizens to help in amplifying these successes even if he doesn’t want hem amplified. We are all stakeholders in this Nigerian project and we will not allow power mongers who want to rule at all costs to derail Mr. President even when they do not have solution to Nigeria’s challenges.
So, to answer your question, the agenda, if you choose to call it so, is to bring to the notice of Nigerians what Mr. President is doing and has done to make this country great. There are unsung successes in agriculture, sports, aviation, housing, roads infrastructure and even in power generation, just to mention a few. This is as a result of the well thought-out Transformation Agenda.
Let me also remind you that certain interests control the media. I am sorry to say this but that is the truth. Most of these interests do not mean well for this country except for their selfish aims of making a kill. The media needs to be patriotic and portray the country in a positive note especially before the international community. You are not doing it for President Jonathan but for the nation as a corporate entity. But what do we have? Negativities, all over. Have you ever seen CNN portraying the American government in bad light? Are you saying that the American society and government do not have negative tendencies? Even if they must report those negative tendencies, they are toned down to the barest level so as not to jeopardize the U.S national interest.
The selfish media interests peddle all sorts of negativities around Mr. President to achieve their nefarious goals. They have already succeeded in pocketing certain sections of this country and are making a kill out of it. We will not allow them to expand further. A situation where one man who is not even in government anymore is controlling governments of a geo-political enclave is bad enough for this democracy. If we leave things to them, your guest is as good as mine. Some of these power-mongers masquerading as politicians do not mean well for this country. They have run away in the past and they will do the same if they are given the opportunity to ruin this country. They claim to midwife our democracy; if that is true, why then do they want to kill it? It baffles me.
TAN will not sit on the fence. We are supporting this President’s Transformation Agenda in the open and we make no apology. We are watching and we will respond positively to their negative tautologies. They are like broken gramophone records repeating the same old story without making any sense or meaningful contribution.
How would you achieve your goals?
Our membership cuts across and we are all achievers in our various areas of calling. We are ready to put everything we have on the ground for the sake of this nation because we have no other country except Nigeria and President Goodluck Jonathan, by the grace of God, is our president today. Every well meaning Nigerian must support him to succeed in his mandate. You cannot run down your elected president and still call yourself a patriotic citizen.
What is he trying to achieve today? It is his Transformation Agenda, which he has outlined and very dear to his heart. We are poised to support him on that. And our nomenclature even reflects that. We are ambassadors of the Agenda, and membership is open to all well meaning Nigerians and those in the Diaspora.
We are craving to enlist the support of well-meaning citizens of this great country to support President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to succeed.
Again, we shall be working with some established agencies given the constitutional mandate to re-orientate the minds of Nigeria like the National Orientation Agency, NOA. In fact, we are working on having a working relationship with them. We will soon sign an MOU with them to formalize the relationship.
It may be instructive to also inform you that we are not just about showcasing what he has done and promoting his Agenda but also using our resources to support what he is trying to do especially in the area of employment generation. Employment of Nigerian youths is very dear to him and we are toeing this line. We are creating employment opportunities starting with turning Waste to Wealth, as it is being called.
In our environment today, there are lots of wastes that ought to be recycled into usable items. We will provide machineries that would do this and we will engage youths that will be paid for every recyclable waste they bring to the factories. This is the beginning. Now, lots of people will be employed to work in these industries.
So, we are not only encouraging and supporting our government morally but also practically, by mopping up the unemployment population in Nigeria. This will be carried to all geo-political sections of the country including the youth restive areas.
Let me emphasise that entrepreneurial revolution has began in Nigeria, and the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, TAN, are leading the revolution. One ofthe major challenges facing developing and underdeveloped countries of theworld is poverty. It has been so endemic as a result of the high rate of unemployment that has become the major characteristic of the developing and underdeveloped countries of the world. Although the level and magnitude of poverty and unemployment has been observed to be different within and across nations, it still remains the major obstacle to the success of the struggle for the optimum utilization of human resources for both social and economicdevelopment of nations. Africa entered the 21st century as the poorest, the most technologically backward, the most debt distressed and most marginalized region of the world (Economic Commission for Africa, 2001). With the position Nigeria occupies in Africa in terms of the share of population, one cannot but imagine the percentage of Nigerians that are affected by this debilitating monster called poverty and hence making the war against poverty one of the cardinal policies of government in Nigeria.
Figures from the Bureau of Statistics show that about 67% of Nigerians live below the poverty line. The data further reveal that only 50% of the population has access to safe drinking water, while 38% cannot avail themselves of primary health care. It is estimated that about 70% of Nigerians consume less than 1/3 of the minimum protein and vitamin intake due to low purchasing power. Thisstatistics shows the very depth of poverty in Nigeria. It is dehumanizing and can be rated as a killer disease which has assumed an epidemic state. All these did not start with this administration but any responsible government will not go to sleep with such a terrible situation. The government of Nigeria through most of her policies and programmes has made tremendous effort towards changing the scenario in the country. Despite the effort ofgovernment in this direction, the “poverty virus” is getting more entrenched and spreading wider among the populace. This incidence is higher among the youth who falls within the age bracket of 15-35. The untrained and unskilled youth grows into an unemployable man who cannot be employed because of his lack of marketable skills to be engaged in a job that can adequately support his family. This makes it impossible for him to provide for his children in terms of education both at the formal and informal level to guarantee his wards self sufficiency. Thus,the cycle continues with generation after generation propagating this vicious cycle of poverty.
Some people have associated this with our academic curricula which do not adequately prepare the youths for the challenges ahead in terms employable skills as well as entrepreneurial skills. And this has been with us for long and theJonathan administration is seen to be tackling these through various programmes such as the Sure-P.
Economic growth is seen as a sin qua non for sustained progress in poverty andunemployment reduction. As Sachs, 2005, opined, that poverty cannot be reduced except there is economic growth. To him, it is fact that has been proved by both historical and comparative studies. Empirical facts also exist to show that countries that have reduced poverty are the ones that have grown the fastest. On the other hand, poverty has grown in the countries that have been stagnanteconomically. It is observed that since poverty is a situation in which the victim issubjected to economic, political, social and environmental depreciation, it carrieswith it the potential for all forms of resentment and quite often, such resentment could be violent and destabilizing, as we are presently witnessing.
This view can be used to explain the rising cases of violence in Nigeria as it isevidenced in the insurgency called Boko Haram, kidnapping and militancy across the country. In the words of Adam Smith, (1776), “no society can be flourishing and happy, of which by far the greater part of the members are poor,unemployed and miserable”. These views have created a growing awareness and an unprecedented global consensus that poverty is the greatest threat to peace, stability and the entire human race.
The 1995 world economic summit offered a resounding expression of this with the identification of poverty eradication as a political, economic, social and moral imperative for social development.
How would you link these to government’s efforts?
As I have said, the Nigerian government has introduced and established various programmes and agencies saddled with the responsibility of alleviating poverty in the country. The Goodluck Jonathan Administration has a way forward known as the Transformation Agenda. Evidence exists as to the stimulation of growth in many sectors of the economy as a result of some of the programmes of government aimed at alleviating poverty.
A better approach to the eradication of poverty should be to break the generational chain of poverty by empowering the youth to be self reliant through vocational skill acquisition programme targeted at the youths.
The difference then lies in the presence of a critical mass of entrepreneurs that will trigger an entrepreneurial revolution with all its multiplier effect. It is this entrepreneurial spirit that is empowering China, India, along with Russia and the former Soviet satellite countries in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, to rise above the gravity of years of underemployment.
Some people are of the opinion that the President is bankrolling your activities behind the scene, in order to kick off his 2015 election campaigns. What is your reaction to that?
Nothing could be farther from the truth. You are a journalist. You are free to go and do your independent investigations from those media houses airing our jingles. Even the Presidency has denied it through a statement from the President’s spokesman Dr. Rueben Abati. One of the national magazines had the story in their last edition.
We are not the ones to put words into his mouth as to whether he wants to contest or not. And this is not our primary motive if you ask me although we would be glad if he presents himself for reelection. But let me tell you that this man is not even thinking along that line now because of the enormity of works in his hand.
What is your group’s reaction to the ongoing rescue efforts of the Chibok girls?
The Chibok girls’ abduction issue is unfortunate but we are seeing the effect of years of neglect rearing its ugly head now. How can we blame this President for things that took its root more than 50 years ago, shortly after independence? You may not agree with me but our police and military are of the best stock worldwide. If not, how do you explain the medals and laurels they win when they go for international operations?
Terrorists anywhere in the world are hard to contain but can be managed from wrecking further havocs. The IRA are still there despite concerted efforts to eliminate them, so also are the Al-Shabab, al-Khaeda etc. Despite all efforts of the US and other western powers, bombs still go off every day in Afghanistan and Iraq. Are we saying that these world powers and the home governments are not doing enough? No. So, how can you blame our president? The problem could only be solved by all of us, in a concerted manner, by cooperating with the president and jettisoning politics. Even if you bring the best of experts from anywhere in the world, if the school, the Chibok’s community, Borno State government as well as all politicians irrespective of party affiliations are not cooperating, nothing would be achieved. In other countries, whenever things of this magnitude happen, everybody, irrespective of political divides, rally round the leader. That is why those advanced countries are always able to achieve success, not by playing the blame game as we have here. Intelligence gathering is not only through gadgets but people cooperation. It is easy to put the blame on the doorstep of Mr. President, but what have the school, the Chibok community, the Borno State government and other people done to put us in this situation? And what have we as individuals done to stem the tide? Why must it be the President that carries the blame?
All is not lost, we must all come together to assist government.