The present administration seems to be proactive in its quest to drastically reduce the level of youth unemployment in the country with the rate at which it has been rolling out plans and policies to equip youths profitably. While few weeks ago, the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo led N-power initiative kick-started, the minister of state Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo also currently head a 774,000jobs plan, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has on 22nd of July, 2020 approved the establishment of #75 billion Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) whose aim is to support enterprises among 68millon Nigerian youths between the ages 18-25.
Speaking on the development, Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare gave the FEC accolades for the approval. He said it is the first ever fund approved specifically for youths. The fund will cater specifically for youths within the age 18-25 with genuine business ideas. According to the minister, youths can approach any of the 125 micro-credit banks across the country to access the fund.
He promised that the scheme will be closely supervised by the ministry and not hijacked by politicians as is the norm on initiatives that involve huge funds like this. He added that the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning will take the lead in financing the scheme while working in unison with the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Ministry of Youths and Sports Development and other Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
Although, it seems a great love from the government and like a complement to its other plans, Debo Onifade, author of the book, Liberating Nigeria: A Guide to winning elections and reviving our country and convener of top leading online politics forum in Nigeria, Liberating Nigeria, however thinks otherwise.
Speaking on the show, Liberating Nigeria, Onifade expressed displeasure at a lot of things he pointed out were wrong with the initiative, he said it was no different from the other schemes that the government has reeled out in recent past with little or no transparency. As much as the FEC did well in approving the funds, a lot of questions remain unanswered. How does an average Nigerian Youth access the funds? Is it a little or no interest loan? What processes are to be followed? And a lot of others left to be answered.
He said apart from this, the ministry should also concern itself with educating and training the business on business management. How many Nigerian youths can effectively manage a business from start up? Even when they get the loan, are they equipped with the right knowledge to use the loan?
Onifade added that for this fund to achieve the purpose of its release, the government should first organize trainings for young people on how to write business plans, how to make business proposals, how to present business ideas amongst other things. He said this will further boost the morale of people who have the idea but do not how to put it into a plan then finally to reality.
In the meantime, it was a sight to behold when the acting chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Kemabradikumo Pondei supposedly fainted during interrogation about the #14billion missing find in the NDDC. The whole saga started when news of #40billion naira being unaccounted for in the NDDC broke out on social media. In response to this, the lawmakers set up a committee to investigate the matter and question concerned stakeholders like minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, the NDDC Acting Chairman, Pondei and other concerned persons.
While he was being interrogated, Pondei fainted in the premises; this was after he had previously acknowledged in the senate that they (NDDC) used #1.32 billion to take care of themselves for Covid-19 palliatives.
Meanwhile, Godswill Akpabio during his interrogation alleged that most of the contracts from the NDDC were awarded to the lawmakers, a statement he subsequently denied after speaker of the house of representative, Femi gbajabiamola asked him to produce names and other details of lawmakers who were beneficiaries of the contract within 48hours after he made the allegation.
Few days after, in a bid to avoid trial like the speaker had threatened; Akpabio made available a document in which he claimed chairman of the house committee on NDDC, Senator Olubunmi Tinubu-Ojo and Chairman of the Senate committee on NDDC, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi as amongst the lawmakers who received 74 contracts from the commission between 2017 to date. All these allegations have been denied by the concerned lawmakers.
He went further to state that “the Investigating Committee on NDDC refused and/or neglected to give me the opportunity to explain that reference to most NDDC contracts yearly being awarded since 2001 from the records allegedly to members of the National Assembly in both Chambers were done without the knowledge of the alleged beneficiaries.”
On this issue, Onifade expressed sadness on the fact that people from the Niger Delta region who know the difficult situation residents are in are the ones who embezzle funds meant for the region but lauded Akpabio for being transparent and opening up to the problems in the NDDC.
He then asserted that what the Federal government should do is to relieve the present officials of the Commission of their duties then search for competent and reliable people with integrity to take over the commission.
He said he doesn’t support move by the Senate to scrap the NDDC as that will only worsen the situation of the region, he also doesn’t acquiesce with people with integrity who are not from Niger Delta taking over the running of the NDDC as they will not deeply understand the condition of the Niger Delta people.
Onifade rounded up by saying the present administration should do better in its appointment of people for critical positions most importantly positions that have to do with handling of large amount of funds, background checks should be done on such officials to avoid hilarious cases of fainting during interrogation like we had with Kemabradikumo Pondei.
By Deborah Yusuf