The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Protection, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, has revealed that over 500,000 unemployed graduates will be empowered in the N-Power programme, while 5.5 million school children will enjoy free meal from the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP).
Quoting the National Bureau of Statistics current 18.8 unemployment rate, Mrs. Uwais said 82 million Nigerians live below the poverty line which translates into 42.4 per cent of the entire population.
According to her, “10.5 million Nigerian children are out of school and 20% of the World’s out-of-school Children are in Nigeria. The National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) will see 5.5 million school children fed with nutritious meals. There are also secondary beneficiaries of the programme such as the cooks whom we pay directly and farmers who supply the food stuff.
“Every minute 6.8 million Nigerians enter the unemployment market and Nigeria needs to ensure that 11.9 people are graduated out of poverty per minute, to escape extreme poverty. Today, Nigeria has a deficit of 6.8 people every minute. We need inclusive growth which will enable economic recovery and growth of the country. We researched and found 26 attempts at economic growth in the past but the problems with the past programme has been implementation as federal and state governments scuffled over who has control of the programme. N-Power is a job creation and youth employment programme and our target are 500,000 unemployed graduates; 100,000 artisans; 8 regional innovation hubs for one million primary and secondary students which offers access to computer, training in animation, coding and programming.”
Government Empowerment and Enterprise Programme (GEEP), is another programme designed for zero interest loan scheme for over 1.2 million Nigerian artisans, traders, market men and women, as well as women cooperatives. It was discovered that 70% MSMEs in Nigeria cannot access loans facilities and financial support for business growth. GEEP works with cooperatives to assist MSMEs and the Bank of Industry (BOI), manages it by verifying the membership of the cooperatives through BVN. Those who default payment get blacklisted and prevented from further loans. GEEP targets 1.66 million micro, small and medium enterprises.
The Special Adviser highlighted economic overdependence on crude oil; absence of critical policies driving inclusive growth and changing demographic profile as challenges that could not be left unaddressed, hence President Buhari’s decision to act. Currently the programmes are operational in 14 states of the federation.