Despite the plethora of intervention scheme introduced by successive administrations in the country to tackle youth unemployment, the menace continues to grow. Michael Oche, in this piece, captures the new intervention introduced by the federal government through the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) to address the challenge.
Experts have often expressed worry that if not tackled with urgency, Nigeria’s unemployment statistics may reach 33.5 per cent by 2020. The current national unemployment statistics stands at 23.1 per cent.
Over the years, government has emphasised addressing youth unemployment through skills acquisition. Unfortunately, women and youths, who constitute a significant proportion of the unemployed, have been neglected in financial inclusion over the years either for business start-ups or expansion in Nigeria, making it difficult for them to become self-empowered.
Current statistics show that the number of Nigerians without access to financial services stands at 46.3 per cent. The federal government has however, expressed determination to decrease the number to 20 per cent by year 2020.
Worried by the inability of trainees to access startup funds, the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), said it has boosted many micro businesses nationwide through direct cash disbursements under the Micro Enterprise Enhancement Scheme (MEES) of the Small Scale Enterprises (SSE).
The NDE director general, Dr Nasir Mohammed Lada, said the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is not ignorant of the unemployment status of the country and is mindful of the inherent danger that unemployment poses to the development of the country especially where youths and women in the age bracket of 35 years and below are without marketable skills, and cannot access credit from financial institutions.
He said unemployment worldwide, is best tackled through skills acquisition, hence; NDE is working assiduously on capacity building to address skills deficiency and mismatch in order to produce a robust workforce for the country.
In the last few months, the NDE has intensified more efforts to capture more women and youths in its job creation drive.
Ladan, who in most cases, is present at the loan disbursement occasions, described the events as major efforts by the Buhari administration towards employment generation and ensuring strong, stable and prosperous micro enterprises for the country in order to spur economic growth, and broad based economy.
The NDE, according to the director general, is collaborating with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to facilitate an easy access to the CBN’s Agribusiness Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS). The facility provides opportunity for potential entrepreneurs and the 5,000 graduate trainees of NDE in each state of the federation to individually access loans of up to N10 million.
In Sokoto State, micro businesses totaling 12,000 were boosted with cash disbursements while tools and equipment in vocational skills such as cosmetology, fashion designing and dress making, carpentry, welding, masonry, brick molding, auto mechanic and many other marketable skills, were disbursed to over 2,000 graduate trainees, to kick start their own businesses.
The special guest of honour for the empowerment ceremony, former deputy governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu, commended the efforts of the federal government and advised the beneficiaries to be diligent in their chosen businesses.
Senator Aliyu Magatarkarda Wammako, who was the father of the day and co-sponsor of the programme, called on the generality of the people of Sokoto and Kebbi states to show solidarity to the administration of President Buhari in order to reap more dividends of democracy
Kebbi State, governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, while speaking at the resettlement of 10,000 beneficiaries with cosmetology starter packs of N5,000 component and another 1,200 beneficiaries of micro loans of N10,000 each, reiterated the commitment of his administration towards favourable economic condition for every citizen of Kebbi.
He enjoined the people of the state to embrace skills acquisition to become self-reliant.
Earlier in his keynote address, Dr Ladan established that NDE has the constitutional responsibility to empower youths and create jobs for the jobless. He said the directorate’s mandate lies strategically in using diverse trainings followed by resettlement as a tool to empower youths with marketable skills and address skills mismatch arising from educational curriculum.
In Uyo, the Akwa-Ibom State capital, the disbursement of starter packs and cash component to 11,600 youths and women was chaired by the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari and was assisted by the senior special assistant to the President on National Assembly matters, Senator Itta Enang, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Dr Ladan, the director, Vocational Skills Development, Engr Yakubu Mani, among many other dignitaries.
Mrs Buhari, at the occasion, charged the beneficiaries to prove their worth in the ever challenging business world and be innovative in their marketing strategies.
In Adamawa State, the secretary to the federation, Boss Gida Mustapha, and the governor of Adamawa State, Mohammed JubrillaBindow, witnessed the empowerment and disbursement of business starter packs, cash components and micro enterprise loans to 10,000 women and youths of the state. The secretary to the federation advised the beneficiaries to develop sharp business sense and be resilient in their quest for success.
In Oyo and Osun states, the empowerment and disbursement exercises was supervised by the director for Finance and Account, NDE Abuja headquarters, Mr. Ayodele Ailyu Lasisi, who stood in for the director general. Not less than 10, 000 participants also benefitted. Again in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, 10,000 women and youths enjoyed the NDE loan facilities. The beneficiaries were drawn from the sixteen local government areas of the state. Senator Gbemisola Ruqayyah, who collaborated and supervised the disbursement exercise, along with key officers of the NDE in the state, opined that the exercise, if repeated nationwide, is capable of checkmating the crisis of unemployment in the country.
Also in Ekiti State, the governor, Dr John Fayemi, urged the 10, 000 youths and women beneficiaries to use the loan facilities judiciously in order to be self – reliant. He thanked the director general of the NDE for his love and passion for the state. The deputy governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi and the wife of the governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, were in attendance.
In like manner, 10, 000 women and youths were empowered and granted micro enterprise loans in Akure, the Ondo State capital. Governor of the state, Ogbeni Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), while performing the symbolic disbursement of the micro enterprise loans to some of the beneficiaries, called for creativity among the business owners. He observed that the business atmosphere is volatile and only creative minds who understand the intrigues of the market would have better chance of the market share.
Empowerment and disbursement activities also took place in Nasarawa, Borno, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Enugu, Kogi, Imo and the rest states of the federation with the least number empowered being 6,500.
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