President Muhammadu Buhari has flagged off the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme (NJFP), a youth empowerment partnership initiative between the federal government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
He said 20,000 Nigerians will benefit from the programme which seeks to empower Nigerians with needed skills to boost job creation and economic growth.
Buhari said the programme will provide a pathway for young Nigerians to gain work experience in top tier organisations, gaining relevant skills and building the right networks for the future in various sectors including information and communications technology, financial services, trade, manufacturing, agriculture and agro-processing.
He identified other sectors to include mining, telecommunications, creative industries and technology, education, health, research and development, and public sector institutions.
The president added that the programme will build on other efforts of the government to support young Nigerians such as the N75 billion youth fund in the ministry of youth and sports development, with N25 billion released annually for three years.
“We believe that building the right skills and experiences across these sectors are important to sustain the economic growth we are experiencing,” he said.
“Beyond the skills and work experience, we will be building a new culture of mentorship and guidance that can chart a new course for skills development and work experience in our country.
“We believe that as this programme creates new opportunities for 20,000 recent graduates annually, the beneficiaries will use the opportunities presented to them and maximise their 12 months of engagement.”
The president encouraged all eligible Nigerians to apply for the jubilee programme while urging private sector organisations to join by providing work placement opportunities, mentors and funding.
“I would like to say thank you to the United Nations Development Programme and the European Union for their support on this vital initiative. And I hereby declare the program open,” he said.
Speaking on the milestone recorded under his leadership, Buhari said his administration’s efforts in job creation, policy-making and innovation have resulted in the highest economic growth recorded in the past six years.
According to the second-quarter GDP report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s economy grew by 5.01 percent in the second quarter of 2021 — the strongest growth since the fourth quarter of 2014.
This marks three consecutive quarters of growth following the negative growth rates recorded in the second and third quarters of 2020.
The main drivers of the Q2 2021 economic growth include trade, information and communication (mainly telecommunications), transportation, electricity, agriculture (crop production) and manufacturing.
The president assured that Jubilee Fellows Programme will further consolidate on the success recorded, adding that more jobs will be created.
“These efforts have yielded results with Nigeria recording its biggest economic growth in six years with a GDP growth of 5 per cent in the second quarter of 2021,” he said.
“An important part of our policies and strategies is the focus on employment and creating opportunities for our people.
“When this government was elected in 2015, we committed to increasing job opportunities for Nigerians and as part of our social investments programme, we recruited 500,000 graduates into our N-power programme.
“These graduates are recruited to work in agricultural, health and education institutions across the country. The N-power programme also has a non-graduate component that provides skills to tens of thousands of Nigerians in areas such as technology, masonry, auto repairs, and carpentry.
“We estimate that about 2 million people join our labour force annually. We continue to work with our partners to provide more opportunities to create jobs and the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme in partnership with the United Nation’s Development Programme being one of such opportunities.”
In his remarks, Mohammed Yahya, the resident representative of UNDP, said that the UN will continue to support Nigeria to move human potentials across the country to capacities and skills that will place the country on a better pedestal.
“Each day, young Nigerians continue to break barriers with their capacity and ingenuity,” he said.
“Young Nigerians have produced outstanding innovations. There is no shortage of talents in Nigeria.”
Alexandre Borges Gomes, EU deputy head of delegation, and Edward Kallon, UN resident coordinator, commended the initiative, saying the programme benefitted from wide consultations.