James Emejo in Abuja
The federal government has so far disbursed a total sum of $155 million to boost job creation for the teeming youths under the Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO).
YESSO Acting National Coordinator, Mrs. Hajara Sami, said over 500,000 people have benefited from the initiative, while 80 per cent of them are currently on the programme.
YESSO, which is $300 million package involving the World Bank, terminates in June this year, adding that a total of 16 states have so far embraced the initiative.
Speaking at the Social Protection Practitioners and Academics Dialogue (SPADE-2), Sami said: “Our operation gives a credit facility to the states and it has to be state-driven. States have to express interest and the states that have expressed interest and were able to meet the eligibility criteria are those we have on ground.
“Many more states are now willing to partake in the programme having seen the results. They want to come in but we can only admit them after June 2020.”
However, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment Programme, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, has called for a more inclusive, sustainable and comprehensive system which would form part of the broader development agenda and vision for the country.
She said for most Nigerians, a robust social protection system has assisted the vulnerable to get back on their feet, providing them with the opportunity to access essential services such as education and healthcare among others.
Uwais, however, expressed regrets that social protection had not been a reality for most of the world’s population.
She said: ‘’In 2016, 55 per cent – as many as four billion people – were not covered by any social protection cash benefits, with significant variations across regions as realities range from 87 per cent without coverage in sub-Saharan Africa to 14 per cent in Europe and Northern America.”
Essentially, YESSO which became effective in 2013 has a closing date of June this year and seeks to increase access to the poor and vulnerable, using improved safety net systems to youth employment opportunities in all participating states and to provide targeted grant transfers to the poor, vulnerable and internally displaced persons in the north.