John Iyanda is a 300 level student of Business Management in the Benue State University (BSU) and a dependent of a personnel of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in Makurdi.
Iyanda is among the beneficiaries of the agricultural scheme developed by NAF’s headquarter for barracks youth to curb idleness among those of them who may have finished secondary school, awaiting university entry or scouting for jobs.
Our correspondent caught-up with the undergraduate during the flag-off of this year’s Barracks Youth Empowerment Through Agriculture at the NAF’s Livestock Farm in Makurdi where he was busy with his poultry feed.
“We (youth) are not lazy. We can make exploits through gestures like this if put in place,” Iyanda said.
Another beneficiary, Peter Anthony, a school leaver waiting to secure admission into tertiary institution now helps to manage the poultry situated at the NAF base mammy market in Makurdi.
Apart from managing the poultry, Anthony is also this year’s beneficiary of the scheme which continues until he is established on his own and financially capable to assist other young people grow.
He told our correspondent during the recent flag off exercise by the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal, Abubakar Sadique, that the initiative was a big relief to parents who are personnel of NAF as their wards are gainfully engaged.
“We want to appreciate the CAS. This gesture would make youths in the barracks responsible to live away from white collar jobs that are hard to find these days,” Anthony added.
Interestingly, there were also beneficiary in the fishery section of the livestock farm who are determined like Iyanda and Anthony to better their lots.
Air Marshal Sadique in September 2017 inaugurated 150 barrack youth for the Agricultural Empowerment Scheme to diversify from oil dependent economy.
At this year’s exercise at the Tactical Air Command (TAC) base in Makurdi, he said, “The youth are full of energy which needs to be directed properly because if that is not done, they will direct such energy for negative purposes. For us at NAF, we are building capacity of our personnel and professionalism for Air war but we have to look at the youth empowerment in the barracks for the home front to be taken care of,” he said.
He stressed that the rate of unemployment in the country has continued to increase daily occasioned by the dwindling economic fortunes, hence, agriculture now becomes the key to unlock other revenue generation means.
At least 3000 registered youth in 20 Air Force bases would be independent after the programme while adding value to their families.
The Air Officer Commanding, TAC, Air Vice Marshal, Oladayo Amao said the CAS visits to his command had always brought benefits.
Amao enjoined the youth to leverage on the programme to improve on their living condition and reduce idleness.