NSIO to engage 500,000 unemployed graduates

From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
The National Social Investment Office (NSIO) has unveiled plans to empower over 500,000 unemployed Nigerian graduates through its N-Power Programme.
Also, the NSIO through the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) is set to feed 5.5 million school children with nutritious meals.
These plans were unveiled to the media in Lagos at the weekend by the Special Adviser to the President on Social Protection, Mrs. Maryam Uwais. She said that the twin programmes were designed to check Nigeriaa��s unemployment rate (now at 18.8per cent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics).
Uwais said that NSIO would work assiduously to decrease the 82 million persons (42.4 per cent of the entire population) living below poverty line.
From the school feeding scheme, the secondary beneficiaries, she said would include cooks, who are paid directly, and farmers who supply the food stuff, implying that more hands would be required to go into agriculture in the N-Power scheme and their produce guaranteed patronage to encourage their enterprise and creativity.
Alarmed that 6.8 million Nigerians enter the unemployment market every minute, Uwais stressed the need for all the stakeholders to ensure that 11.9 million people are graduated out of poverty per minute to escape extreme poverty through inclusive growth, which would stimulate economic recovery.
Aligned with this in the N-Power programme are a�?100,000 artisans, eight regional innovation hubs for one million primary and secondary students, which offer access to computer, training in animation, coding and programming,a�? she said.
The third scheme is the Government Empowerment and Enterprise Programme (GEEP) designed for zero interest loans for over 1.2 million Nigerian artisans, traders, as well as women cooperatives, since about 70 per cent of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) cannot access loans and financial support for business growth.
She said that GEEP, assisted by the Bank of Industry (BoI) in verifying membership through BVN, targets 1.66 million MSMEs and works with cooperatives, while payment defaulters are blacklisted from further loans.
The fourth programme is the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), which supports one million of the most vulnerable and poorest Nigerians to reduce inequalities, poverty, crime and conflict.
While lamenting the absence of critical policies driving inclusive growth and the changing demographic profile, Uwais said that the target is to take the programme, now operational in 14 states to the entire the federation.
To meet the targets, she said that the programme required the states to create an enabling environment rather than scuffle for control of the scheme.

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