Federal government, Monday, said that youth empowerment has become old-fashioned, submitting that the best way to solve the problem of unemployment was investing in the youths.
The government said that it was taking a detour from empowering the youth to training them to develop requisite skills and knowledge that will better their lots.
Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare who appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Youth and Sports to defend the 2022 budget estimates of the ministry made the disclosure.
This was however greeted with the admonition from the House of Representatives that concrete plans must be made to make Nigerian youth the true leaders of tommorow.
Dare likened empowerment to unemployment, saying that investing in the youths was the priority now.
He said, “We’ve been able to make paradigm shift when it comes to youth development and that shift is at the continental and international level. We have moved from empowerment to investing in the youths because empowerment can no longer solve the problem of unemployment. Empowerment is just like unemployment. We have youths that are skilled with great ideas and all our training is towards investing in the lives of our youths.”
Speaking on the 2021 budget implemention, the Minister said that approved N25 billion when properly utilized will impact the youths positively.
“We thank Mr President for the approval of N25 billion in 2021 appropriation bill. The ministry is yet to utilize that money for very justifiable reasons. We are at a point which we are ready to access that money. And that will be a trigger to scaling up the number of youths that will benefit. As we speak today, the funds released were released by CBN, administered by CBN and micro finance bank, they have the platform that process it and because it’s their money, we didn’t administer a dime out of that money”, he said.
The minister further disclosed that about 6054 Nigerians have benefited from the N75 billion youths investment fund.
He stated that the ministry hoped to complete 12, out of the 48 youth development centers across the geopolitical zones in 2022.
“Last year, you will recall that Mr President in council approved N75 billion for 3 years under the Nigerian youths investment fund. We started out with a small advance loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. We requested for N5 billion but as we speak only N2.9 billion has been released. As we speak today, 6054 have benefitted from the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund. We have gone ahead to make sure that our website to release the name of some of the beneficiaries and the amount they received, the sector of SMEs in which they operate.
“Our goal is to ensure that we increase the number of beneficiaries and that’s why we have developed as a ministry our own loan management system. It will give us a hundred percent control, and also open the door for us to access N25 billion directly from the finance ministry.
“In 2022, our plan is to complete 12 youth development centers across the geopolitical zones. The aim of these development centers is to bring development directly to the youths, keep them within their immediate communities, where they can learn technical skills.
“Mr. Chairman, I took note of your admonition, the honest thing I want to speak to is the scaling, there’s no program that we will do that will be impactful unless the scale is high. We hope that the youth investment fund, the moment we get past the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), there will be a major impact when it comes to empowerment of our youths.”
In his remarks earlier, the Chairman House Committee on Youth Development, Hon. Yemi Adaramodu said that deliberate action must be taken to make the Nigerian leaders of tommorow Instead of sloganeering it.
Adaramodu put the responsibility of championing the cause squarely on the doorstep of the minister.
“So for Nigerian youths to be leaders there must be very deliberate action from the leadership of Nigeria especially the youths ministry. It’s not going to be stereotype. It’s like sowing a seed in the lives of Nigerian youths. When you sow a seed, you expect that seed to germinate and grow into a big tree whereby fruits can grow. Over the years, the government of President Buhari has created a lot of activities and programs to enhance the lives of Nigerian youths.
“These pass through the ministry of youths and sports, to get these things across to the beneficiaries. Secondly, this budget this year, what we want to see there are those things that can empower the youths. I always hear this statement, youths are the leaders of tomorrow, and I wonder when that tomorrow is starting. So, for Nigerian youths to be leaders, there must be very deliberate action from the leadership of Nigeria especially the youths ministry.
“That’s why today the only thing we want to hear from the minister is those things that are going to put enough smiles in the faces of Nigerian youths. We have to do a very welcoming appropriation so that Nigerian youths will take their rightful position in place of priorities”, the chairman said.