By Jerry Emmanson, Kaduna
A non-governmental organisation, the New Initiative for Credible Leadership has called for concerted efforts on the part of the Federal Government to fully utilize the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, NASENI as a panacea to diversifying the economy of Nigeria, reduce youth unemployment thereby reducing the ability of Boko Haram to get new recruits.
The call was part of the outcome of a roundtable discussion by the group and other NGOs held in Kaduna on Tuesday to discuss how to reboot economic development in the north of the country and also grow the national economy.
Speaking on the outcome of the roundtable, the Executive Director of the Kaduna based organisation, Patriot Aminu Atonu urged President Muhammadu Buhari to use NASENI, which he disclosed has now been properly upgraded by Professor M. S Haruna, as a veritable tool in the rebuilding process of the north east region that has been ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency.
Atonu commended President Buhari over his decision to look inwards in solving the Boko Haram crisis but noted that this decision can be further consolidated by gainfully employing youths into various manufacturing plants built around the products developed and promoted by NASENI.
He said “It is a good thing that the government is thinking of winding down the training of ex-agitators abroad. The funds to be saved from winding down the Presidential Amnesty Programme should be channelled towards strengthening an agency like NASENI.
“From the contributions of various speakers at the roundtable, we discovered that using such fund in NASENI can grow it into a world class institution for infrastructure that will convert what we presently see as our economic woes into Eldorado.
“The roundtable also appealed to Mr. President to use his administration to turn Nigeria into the China of Africa whereby made in Nigeria campaigns will go beyond mere cars for the rich but also an all-encompassing economy that caters primarily for the youths, vocational institution and local production of everyday items.
“We discovered that we continued to use NASENI as a reference point mainly because of the turnaround that Professor Haruna brought to the place in such a short time and also because of its mandate as an organisation that should midwife inventions. That was why we also toyed with the idea that the agency should be encouraged to spin off a specialized university or institution, something along the line of an Innovation and Infrastructure University in Nigeria.
“With NASENI as the piloting agency of such institution it should be able to completely care for those who need specialized training in such areas to go and acquire knowledge which would also stop capital flight by those who are compelled to seek such skills abroad.” Atonu advised.
The New Initiative for Credible Leadership further said it will now start consulting with private businesses to see what programmes can be developed outside of government to cater for the pressing economic needs of the region.
It also called on the governments of northern states to see where they can key into Federal Government initiatives towards using employment creation as a tool for reducing the capacity of Boko Haram to get new recruits.