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N250bn CBN MSME fund meant to create job opportunities – SGF

By GRACE AUDU

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha,  said on Monday that in tackling youth unemployment,  government was building mechanisms and institutionalized processes, especially in the informal sector, that would give Nigerian youth assurances that their energy and dynamism can and should be invested in making the nation very productive.

He added that to ensure that youths can be provided support to translate acquired skills to poverty reducing and job creating opportunities, the federal government had also provided avenue to substantial increase access to affordable credits through the N250 billion Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) fund among other schemes.

Boss Mustapha, who spoke at the closing ceremony of the National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP) of the Industrial training Fund (ITF), in Abuja on Monday, commended the management of the ITF for the wonderful job under the leadership of the Director-General, Sir Joseph Ari, including the successful training of over 450,000 Nigerians in various skills and trades over the last three-and-half years.

To complement these efforts, he said the Federal Government had also initiated several social investment programmes, including the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), N-Power and National home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) to reduce socio-economic problems affecting he most vulnerable groups in the society.

The SGF, who noted that the National Social Investment Programmes had touched a number of lives, said the creation of a Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, was underscored by “the need to consolidate and build on our achievements of the government in these areas, create pathways for the achievement of our objectives and equally increase sustainability of investments in areas averse to both natural and man-made risks.”

He encouraged other Agencies and Parastatals of the Federal Government to emulate the ITF in this regard, pointing out that when Agencies, parastatals and Departments of government contribute towards the achievement of its policies and goals, the task would be made much easier.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Director-General/Chief Executive of the ITF, Sir Joseph N. Ari, described skills acquisition as the most viable and sustainable solution to rising unemployment and poverty that have continued to defy the best efforts of Governmental and non-Governmental approaches.

He explained that it was for this reason that over 200,000 Nigerians nationwide and 18,000 from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had been equipped with skills for employability and entrepreneurship through the NISD of the ITF.

Lamenting the terrible damage that unemployment had wrought on all facets of national life, Ari declared that no reasonable analysis would divorce unemployment from the needless incidents of violence that have claimed thousands of lives across the Nation.

“It will equally be difficult to separate rising criminality and harmful social vices that are being perpetrated by Nigerians because of unemployment and the attendant poverty,” he added.

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