By Fredrick Nwabufo
“We must give hope and assurance to our teeming youth population. God has blessed Nigeria with a vibrant youth population, ready to learn, and capable of competing in the global economy of the 21st Century. Leadership is what is necessary,” these are the unvarnished, profound, and scintillating words of President Bola Tinub.
At a meeting with Ms. Reeta Roy, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mastercard Foundation, on Wednesday, the President foregrounded his administration’s resolve to support public-private partnerships designed for creating dignified work and employment opportunities for Nigerian youths.
True to its purpose, the Tinubu administration has been unfurling innovative and targeted initiatives to give flight to the dreams of Nigerian youths. This is in the full apprehension of the boundless abilities, resilience, grit, and excellence of Nigeria’s bubbling youth population. The youth are the most valuable resource of our nation, and even with basic accoutrements to function, they will always exceed expectations and defy every stereotype. The administration through the ministry of communications, innovation, and digital economy has been in the pursuit of the noble vision of “inspiring the use of technologies, especially Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies like UAV, IoT, Al and Blockchain to optimise different sectors of the economy”. The ministry has been initiating programmes for skill development and deployment, as well as mobilising support for the nation’s coruscating technology biome, of which the youth are the primary habitues.
The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) has also been introducing schemes tailored to the entrepreneurial needs and pneuma of Nigerians, particularly the youth. For instance, the undergraduate internship programme, a scheme where students in tertiary institutions can get hands-on entrepreneurial training through internships in top organisations.
There is the communisation of access to finance for small businesses with the signing of a N5 billion MSME Fund between SMEDAN and Sterling Bank. The fund is a loan portfolio of single-digit interest rate and zero collateral. With the initiative, small businesses can access funding from as little as N250,000 to as much as N2.5 million. There is also the MSME Matching Fund by SMEDAN and the Bank of Industry to ease access to finance for small businesses across the states at a single-digit interest rate and without collaterals. The conditional grant scheme where nano businesses across the 774 local government areas are given N50,000 each is another anodyne to help fledging businesses.
The Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Technical, Vocational, and Entrepreneurship Education recently announced a conditional grant of N500,000; a business start-up fund for budding entrepreneurs who are able to market their skill. Also, the Office of the Special Assistant to the President on Youth Initiatives (Delivery & Monitoring) has been laying the groundwork for seminal initiatives aimed at “empowering the youth, transforming futures, and catalysing sustainable youth development” in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda.
These are but a few of the youth-centred programmes of the administration, and with many others across different agencies and ministries already in full steam, and some in the pipeline.
The Tinubu administration is the first to deliberately, progressively, and percipiently mainstream women and youth in governance for which the leadership continues to be celebrated across quarters. This effort, among others, shows wholesale faith and trust in the young people and women of Nigeria.