Finance minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has unveiled a new community job creation scheme, a step towards the realization of 370,000 jobs nationwide.
Speaking at the launch of the Community Services, Women and Youth Employment Project in Minna, Niger State capital, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said the Federal Government's share of the proceeds of the partial withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products would be used to create the target jobs.
A statement from the ministry's Deputy Director of Press, Mr. A. I. Okoroafor, quoted the minister as saying the project is a direct Federal Government intervention to redress the current high youth unemployment rate in the country.
The Minna project was launched with an initial 300 beneficiaries drawn from the three senatorial zones and selected through the Community Development Associations of the various communities. However, the programme targets to employ 10,000 Niger State youths when fully operational.
The minister said: "Youth unemployment currently stands at 37.5% and 47.5% in the age groups of 15-24 and 25-44 respectively. This situation is not acceptable to government. Therefore, the Community Services, Women and Youth of SURE-P is a direct Federal Government intervention towards creating opportunities for women and youths across the country."
The project, which has three components - Community Services Scheme, Graduate Internship Scheme and Vocational Skills Development - will be operated efficiently, transparently with emphasis on merit, the minister pledged.
Through the Community Services Scheme, youths will be employed to work on projects identified and selected by communities. The Graduate Employment Scheme is to be executed in partnership with the organized private sector which would be encouraged to engage the services of fresh graduates while the Federal Government pays their stipends for two years during which they would acquire the necessary expertise and professionalism to enhance their employability. On the other hand, the Skills Acquisition Scheme is to be executed in partnership with master trainers who would help unskilled youths to acquire new skills that would make them productive and employable.
In his remarks, Niger State Governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, revealed that the state's own Graduate Employment Scheme had already employed 6,000 graduates and promised that part of the state's share from the subsidy removal would be used to create jobs for the youths.