When the National Enterprise Development Programme, NEDEP, was launched sometimes in February 2014 by the then administration of Goodluck Jonathan, many Nigerians believed the programme was going to begin the much talked about diversification of the Nigerian economy, especially as the programme was based on OLOP (one local government one product), sadly, NEDEP is gone with the wind and its dream of financing the production of minimum one product per local government in Nigeria, buried with the PDP umbrella.
I have always been of the opinion that government is a continuum and that in the interest of the Nigerian state, no project with ability/ capacity to drive economic development and growth should be abandoned by a new government, especially for reasons unexplainable. This present administration abandoned NEDEP and launched a series of new programmes, it has also abandoned YOUWIN 3 award winners, in doing this, loosing several hundreds of millions that had been disbursed as first and second tranche for some of the edition 3 winners under the scheme.
The Nigerian governments approach to tackling the embarrassing youth employment crisis has always remained same, ”launching and setting aside billons for fictitious programmes”, programmes without any blueprint or framework , programmes hardly ever planned in the real sense of the word planning, programmes often conflicting with already existing programmes and once a new government sets the pace for these needless programme launch’s, several other MDAs join in the fray and within months, different programmes would have being launched and when it’s time for the government to leave office, our youth unemployment rate would have doubled and the several billons set aside for the programmes vanished.
In this first part of this series, I will take time to detail out the various youth empowerment programmes launched by the present administration and briefly describe each and will in the second part, dwell on the likely outcomes of the programmes by 2019 and why we do not need several initiatives but a well thought programme that will most importantly, address the issues of creating conducive environment, growing entrepreneurship skills and thinking amongst our unemployed and undergraduates and then be launched on model that will be mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive.
VILLAGE ALIVE DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE (VADI)
The Nigerian government through its agency, the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI) launched sometimes in March 2016, what it called “Village Alive Development Initiative (VADI)” that will involve rural stakeholders where they have comparative advantage.
The initiative overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture is part of efforts by the Federal Government to encourage people to embrace agriculture. Sadly, this programme may not function outside of kwara state as ARMTI in all its lifetime has failed to live up to expectations.
GROWTH AND EMPLOYMENT PROJECT (GEMS)
Growth and Employment in States (GEMS) is an employment project supported by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment (FMTI) and funded by the World Bank and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). The project is aimed at job creation and increased non-oil growth in specific high potential value chain sectors. DFID is providing a grant of £90 million and the World Bank a concessionary loan of $160 million. GEMS will achieve an overall internal rate of return of 48%.
At the launch of this project sometimes in late February 2016, the then DG SMEDAN, lamented that he only got to know of its launch a day before despite being an agency under the ministry launching it and the agency charged with developing the small and medium enterprise sub-sector of the Nigerian economy.
SMALL SCALE AGRICULTURE FUND
Central Bank of Nigeria sometimes in November 2015 set aside N400 billion for small scale agriculture in what it termed a bold move to address youth unemployment, this is different from the on-going 220bn MSMEDF.
It was said that the fund would be used to spur youths to embrace agriculture, we await further directions on how youths will apply to and access the fund.
YOUTH INITIATIVE EMPOWERMENT DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (YIEDP)
CBN Governor, Emefiele said at the launch of this initiative sometimes in March 2016 that N210 billion had been set aside for the programme and added that the collateral for accessing the fund was simple. “It will include assets, such as academic and NYSC certificates, third party guarantees and other movable assets”, isn’t this confusing?
He further added that “Credit line will be made available up to three million naira to each eligible youth, thereby fixing the problem of inadequate finance often encountered by business start-ups”.
ANCHOR BORROWERS PROGRAMME FOR RICE AND WHEAT FARMERS
Nigerian government sometimes earlier this year launched an Anchor Borrowers Programme for rice and wheat farmers to advance their status from small holder farmers to commercial or large growers and support the diversification programme of the Nigerian economy.
CBN set aside 40bn from the 220bn MSMEDF for this programme and it was hoped it will lift small scale rice and wheat farmers from poverty and enable them scale up their farming activities. This was launched sometimes early this year in Kebbi state and till date, no further information or implementation guideline released for this initiative.
YOUTHS ENTREPRENEURSHIP SUPPORT (YES)
The Muhammadu Buhari administration, through the Bank of Industry formally launched on March 17th 2016 a N10 billion Youths Entrepreneurship Support (YES) project to empower youth with loans to start businesses.
Speaking at the launch of the project in Abuja, the Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, said his ministry would partner all agencies of government to create new jobs.
He said more than 40 per cent of Nigerian graduates had no jobs and that an average of eight million Nigerians entered the job market annually.
The minister said that the ‘YES’ project of BoI was part of the Federal Government’s youth employment scheme, saying that about 36,000 jobs would be created annually through ‘YES’.
Waheed Olagunju, the acting Managing Director of BoI, said that a participant under the scheme could access up to N10 million loan with single digit interest rate and repayable over three to five years.
COMPREHENSIVE NATIONAL YOUTH EMPOWERMENT PROGRAMME
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration commenced its reforms on youth unemployment and insecurity by instituting the comprehensive national youth empowerment programme.
During the swearing-in of 2015 Batch “A” (Stream II) National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members in Lagos, the president announced the news through Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode, who was represented by Dr Aderemi Desalu, the state Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Special Duties
“As we have promised Nigerians, my administration will soon unveil a comprehensive national youth empowerment programme anchored on the model provided by the NYSC scheme. “Our goal is to comprehensively address youth employment, insecurity and other social vices prevalent amongst our youths. This was in June 2015.
The Director-General, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Nteranya Sanginga, on Sunday, April 2nd 2016 said the Federal Government would launch a N59.7 billion Youth-In-Agriculture Scheme in September 2016.
Mr. Sanginga, who disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Ibadan, said the scheme would be sponsored by the federal government and the African Development Bank, AFDB.
NON-OIL EXPORT FUND
The Central Bank of Nigeria in January 2016 unveiled a N300bn special intervention fund to boost non-oil exports in the country. The announcement was contained in a communique issued at the end of a non-oil export conference conveyed by the CBN and the Nigerian Export-Import Bank.
The central bank stated in the communique that the intervention fund would be given to exporters at an interest rate of not more than nine per cent to enable them drive non-oil export, meanwhile, the European union still has an active ban on agriculture produce from the country. As a matter of fact, a team from the EU recently visited NAFDAC laboratories to ascertain if steps are been taking to remedy the poor quality of agriculture produce from Nigeria.
REAL SECTOR FUND
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in February 9, 2016 set aside N1 trillion to promote lending to the real sector of the economy with a view to stimulating economic activities in the country.
The Governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this at the 21st Seminar for Finance Correspondents and Business Editors in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
If the definition of madness still includes doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result then one won’t be wrong to say WE ARE MAD, both the government and the governed.
LEAD PARTNER, MSME-ASI