It is my pleasure to be here with you all today. We are in an unprecedented time in the history of our nation. A time when global economies have been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the significant impacts of the pandemic on economies was loss of jobs and opportunities, with the International Labour Organisation estimating the equivalent of an unprecedented 255 million jobs being lost around the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tuesday, 22nd June, 2021 I set-up the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) steering committee to coordinate our work to fulfil my promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years. This is building on the positive results from the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and the targeted response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with the Economic Sustainability Plan.
These efforts have yielded results with Nigeria recording its biggest economic growth in six years with a GDP growth of 5% in the second quarter of 2021. The sectors that drove this growth are trade, telecommunications, transportation, electricity, agriculture and manufacturing. Each of these sectors showed significant improvement and thus created more jobs for our populace.
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.
In 2019, I directed that the number be increased to 1 million. 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.
To create more opportunities for our young population we have to provide avenues for them to gain relevant work experience.
The jubilee 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.
Other sectors include mining, telecommunications, creative industries and technology, education, health, research and development, and public sector institutions. We believe that building the right skills and experiences across these sectors are important to sustain the economic growth we are experiencing.
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 which was created to support young Nigerians in business or with business ideas. The programme has kicked off and will run for three years with N25 billion released annually.
The Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) which was our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have set-up a survival fund which has helped many businesses stay afloat in the worst economic periods of the last 5 years, more than one million Nigerians have benefitted from the fund, with more than 500,000 benefitting from the MSMEs Payroll support track, approximately 270,000 beneficiaries of the artisan support track, and about 50,000 beneficiaries of the MSME grant scheme.
The Economic Sustainability Plan also has a solar power component that will employ tens of thousands of Nigerians and ensure that they keep the lights on in their communities to support other activities within these communities.
The agricultural, housing, and digital economy projects under the Economic Sustainability Plan are also creating opportunities across many sectors for Nigerians, creating jobs, supporting livelihoods, and providing skills activities across sectors.
The Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme, being a fully paid post-NYSC work placement programme for Nigerians will provide an opportunity for mentors who are already engaged in various industries and have gained relevant experience and built capacity over the years to provide mentorship and support for the young Nigerians that will be on the programme.
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 maximise the opportunities presented to them and maximise their 12 months of engagement on the programme.
I will encourage all eligible Nigerians to apply for this programme, I also urge private sector organisations in Nigeria to join us on this programme to provide work placement opportunities, mentors, and funding to support the programme.
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.
Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.