The World Bank, European Union and other International Development Association yesterday approved a $300 million-financing to the Federal Government to boost ongoing initiatives towards job creation across the country.
The programme - State Employment and Expenditure For Results (SEEFOR) has a five-year life span consisting of three main components including youth employment and access to socio-economic services; public financial management reforms; and project coordination and implementation support at the federal and state levels.
Speaking in Abuja at a national policy dialogue on monitoring and evaluation for the SEEFOR project, Secretary to the National Planning Commission (NPC), Mr. Ntufam Ugbo, noted that the initiative was part of the World Bank's contribution to the Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government.
He said:"The overall objective of the project is to ensure improvement in standard of living of citizens and also enhance financial management process in the Niger Delta region and by extension Nigeria.
A credible monitoring and evaluation framework for the SEEFOR project has been established under the guidance of the National project coordination unit with technical support from the world bank office."
The programme was piloted by the World Bank three years ago to improve the living conditions of the people of the Niger-Delta.
He said the project, which commenced in July 2013 in four Niger Delta states of Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers, was aimed at enhancing opportunities for employment, especially among youths as well as improving public financial management in the beneficiary states.
Ugbo said the choice of the areas of intervention was justifiable as it is consistent with government's commitments towards addressing the twin challenges of unemployment and governance at the federal and sub-national level, especially in the Niger Delta, where high rate of unemployment had resulted in youth restiveness and militancy.
Also, World Bank Lead Public Sector Governance Specialist and Task Team Leader, SEEFOR Project, Mr. Jens Kristensen, said the pilot phase of the scheme would help to create between 40, 000 and 48, 000 jobs.
He said:"We want to support the federal government agenda in creating jobs and improving the quality of vocational training and developing communities. It is not easy to set up a project that will spend $300m.
All the governors have provided their counterpart funding and the project implementation unit has been set up, procurement are ongoing and outreach to groups is also ongoing."
He noted that within the next six to seven months, the quality of vocational training centers in these states would have improved.
He said about 400 youths had so far been employed under the current initiative. The dialogue sought to weigh the imperative for an efficient monitoring and evaluation system for effective delivery of the SEEFOR project.