Government Social Investments, Mrs Mariam Uwais, made the disclosure in Benin City, Edo State, yesterday. Speaking at a stakeholders sensitisation workshop of the Social Investment Programme, Mrs Uwais said: “We intend to employ 500,000 unemployed graduates in this first year. It is open to all unemployed Nigerian graduates between the ages of 18 and 35.
All you need to do is to go on to the portal that has been opened, and it closes on August 31, 2016.” The portal is http://www.npower.gov.ng”. On his part, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for initiating the programme for the benefit of the less privileged in the country. Governor Oshiomhole said, “Let me, on behalf of the government and the great people of Edo State, appreciate our president, Buhari, for making history in appropriating funds specifically directed at children of the poor in public schools by way of one meal a day for children from primary one to three, recognising that whereas many Nigerians are poor, some are much poorer than others, and that it is not their fault. “Government has responsibility to identify those ones, the poorest of the poor, not to shed crocodile tears for them or with them, but to boldly appropriate public funds structured in a way that will deliver some relief to these categories of our country men and women.” He said, “For too long, everybody laments the growing numbers of unemployed youths, and in this democracy, the youths are the most active, they are the most vibrant. Everybody says the youths are the leaders of tomorrow, but we are unable to define when is tomorrow. I believe President Muhammadu Buhari has defined tomorrow to mean today, and that government needs to demonstrate beyond rhetoric that not only do we reject this unacceptable level of youth idleness, but government at the highest level has created a scheme that will enable some of these youths to be engaged, including being engaged in teaching, being encouraged to acquire skills, and to make them what they should be: part of our human resource which is the most important resource any country needs to grow on a sustainable basis.” He continued, “For me, I am particularly excited with the school feeding programme. I am excited because given our shared commitment, and I think the world over that every child has a right, a constitutional right, in fact, inalienable right to go to school. What more can we do not to only to get the child to go to school, but to ensure that at least he is guaranteed a meal while at school so that he will be in a state of mind to be able to benefit from teaching and learning. “In Edo State, we recognize education as the foundation of any attempt to empower anyone. And that is why have devoted huge resources every year, first by rebuilding our schools and making them attractive to young children, trying to deal with inequality between urban and rural areas by ensuring that the qualities of schools in our cities are exactly the same standard you find in any village where we have rebuild schools. The same furniture you will find in these schools is exactly the same furniture you will find in the most remote village where we have rebuilt the schools and re-equipped them so that our children do not grow up with inferiority complex in relation to the children of the rich, because society cannot enjoy peace on a sustainable basis if there is no justice and fairness.” According to Governor Oshiomhole, “And that is why we commend Mr. President for this very bold initiative, and above all and order to demonstrate that he understands clearly that he is the President of Nigeria, not president of a political party, he has chosen by appointing Mrs. Maryam Uwais. The President has done his part. He has found the will to appropriate. He has found the resources even in this difficult time to set funds aside to get this done. He has identified credible men and women under the able the leadership of Mrs Uwais to provide leadership for this particular project.” While announcing the plans of the Federal Government for Nigerians, Special Adviser to the President on Federal Government Social Investments, Mrs. Uwais said, “the government is concerned that despite the fact that we have so many people in Nigeria, fifty eight million of Nigerians are considered poor, and the inequality gap has increased. The gap between male and female, the poverty gap is very large. And there is a need now to ensure that resources are spread more evenly across the country and so our social protection programmes are essentially ones that are aimed at bridging inequalities between the rich and the poor. Since 2000 and today, there has been twenty six programmes implemented by the federal government.” She said, “In addressing these issues, the federal government has come up with five programmes. It has set up an office within the office of the Vice President in the Presidency to ensure effective monitoring to deliver standard mechanism that will be sustainable to avoid duplication of roles to ensure proper coordination and synergy among key ministries and also between the various levels of government.” Mrs. Uwais continued, “Our programmes are designed to reduce poverty and inequality, also to jumpstart progress and human development through conditional cash transfer, job creation, school feeding, skills development, education and financial inclusion. A lot of people remain outside the financial landscape. We want to stimulate productivity, feeding for people to be able to have cash in their hands. We need a more sustainable and more inclusive growth. We need reduced poverty rate.” According to her, “We have cash transfer programme which is going to be money sent to beneficiaries directly in the different communities. And we have an enterprise and empowerment programme which is access to credit for market women, for women cooperatives, for youths and for farmers. And we have bursary programme which is to encourage young children and students in secondary schools. It is a bursary programme that will be given to them, those that have admission to study science, technology, engineering, mathematics and education. The N-Power is a volunteer corps for graduate and non-graduate. It is training for empowerment and also for knowledge.”