*Approves $6.8m loan for empowerment programme in North-east
By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) Wednesday in Abuja approved N5.5 billion for the training and provision of work tools for 12,000 young Nigerians under the N-Power scheme of the federal government’s Social Investment Programme (SIP).
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly FEC meeting, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, said the project is a knowledge and youth empowerment programme conceived to transform 12,000 hitherto unemployed or under-employed Nigerians to employed entrepreneurs.
According to him, the beneficiaries of the scheme will be young Nigerians of 18-25 years of age whom he said would be trained to employ five other Nigerians each and thus thereafter bringing the total jobs to be created to 60,000.
Udoma, who said the selection criteria would be the same procedure adopted for the hitherto beneficiaries of N-power programme which he said was available online, adding that N259,000 will be spent for the training of each beneficiary and another N207,000 for the provision of work tools for each of them.
According to the minister, the scheme was conceived to train and equip young Nigerians with the ability to handle electronic equipment.
He said: “One of the projects approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) today is knowledge, youth and empowerment programme. Now, this programme targets 12,000 young Nigerians of between the ages of 18 and 25 years. It is meant to give them trainings and devices.
“The trainings intend to transform the 12,000 beneficiaries from unemployed, under-employed trainees to employed citizens and entrepreneurs. It will deliver to 12,000 beneficiaries informed trainings which will enable beneficiaries build and imbibe technical proficiency such as assembling, repairs, maintenance as well as technology skills and digital literacy across a wide range of electronic brands, products and technology which can be grouped into three areas — mobile devices, computing devices and commonly used electronic devices — irrespective of their socio-economic backgrounds.
“It’s a programme that is open to all unemployed youths across the six geopolitical zones. Each of the 12,000 targeted beneficiaries will be empowered to train 5,000 youths via a training platform which means they will need to translate the jobs to 60,000 additional jobs because each of the 12,000 is empowered to train five other youths via a training platform and engage them on his or her platform. The project is awarded to Messrs Softcam. It’s of nine months’ duration. Softcam will be working with officials of Social Investment Programme.
“It will cost N259,000 per youth for the training and N207,000 for work tools. Thereafter, once they are trained, they will set up their businesses. Each of the 12,000 beneficiaries will set up his/her business. The cost is N5, 595, 865 billion
“The idea is to ensure that our youths are trained and capable of handling all these electronic equipment.”
Also briefing, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said FEC also approved the obtainment of $6.8 million from African Development Bank (AfDB) for what she described as the delivery of basic service and livelihood empowerment programme in crisis-ridden North-east.
Ahmed, who said some loans had earlier been obtained to provide such services in the six states of the North-east, added that a specific project designed to take place in Lassa, Borno State could not earlier be implemented because of insurgency, adding that this $6.8 million loan is now meant for the implementation of the project.
According to her, the loan has one per cent interest rate payable under a period of 30 years with five years moratorium.
“Today, at the FEC, I presented a memo seeking the approval of the Federal Executive Council for additional financing, the sum of $6.8 million sought as a loan from AfDB to finance inclusive basic service delivery and livelihood empowerment integrated programme for the rebuilding of the North-east.
“There was a previous facility which included coverage of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe States and some specific institutions were beneficiaries.
“But there is a federal science and technology college in Lassa, Borno State that was one of the beneficiaries. But because of insurgency, it suffered severely. It could not be carried out because of the activities of insurgents.
“Now, what we are trying to do is to go back to the projects, to this particular institution to make sure we are able to rehabilitate the institution and also undertake a complete skill training and educational project that will mitigate the challenges that the institution has had. The facility is a concessionairy loan. It has an interest rate of one per cent and it is payable over a 30-year period and it has five years moratorium,” Ahmed said.
Also, the Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Mustapha Shehuri, said FEC also approved the augmentation of the cost of reconstructing a section of Ikot-Ekpene-Aba-Owerri Road from the initial over N3 billion to N6.1 billion.
According to him, the project is an 11.6-kilometre project.
In his own briefing, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the federal government had since 2015, awarded 166 ecological projects under the Ecological Fund Programme to address cases of erosion and flooding in different states of the federation.
According to him, of the 166 projects, 93 had initially been completed, while 20 other projects have newly been completed.
He listed states, which had benefitted from such projects to include: Bauchi, Yobe, Ekiti, Benue, Kano, Nasarawa, Jigawa and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).