FG flags off $350m SEEFOR project to address unemployment

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By Emmanuel Elebeke
Federal Government yesterday launched the State Employment and Expenditure for Results SEEFOR project worth about $350 million.

The pilot project is to be financed by credit of $200 million by the World Bank and has attracted additional financial support of about {80 million from the European Union, EU.

The fund is a credit from the World Bank expected to run for a period of five years in four SEEFOR participating States of Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers.

Performing the formal launch of the project, the Supervising Minister/Deputy Chairman, National Planning Commission, Ambr. Basir Yuguda said the project was laudable being that it is in consonance with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness with expectation that the additional financing would also translate to more jobs for the youths, more financial prudence, greater access to socio-economic services, cleaner environment, more accredited courses in the technical and vocational colleges, as well as more education to our citizenry.

The launch was organized by the National Planning Commission in close
Collaboration with the World Bank Country Office in Nigeria, the European
Union, EU and the four SEEFOR participating States of Bayelsa, Delta, Edo
and Rivers.

The project according to the Minister is designed to create awareness and visibility for the Project at the national and sub-national levels and is to be followed by States’ project launch with the key objective of signalling the end of the Project Preparatory Advance, PPA phase and the commencement of the full implementation phase of the SEEFOR project.

It is also aimed at serving as a platform for learning from experience of best practices on how to accelerate the pace of implementation of the SEEFOR project in the beneficiary Niger Delta States, and the country at large.

‘‘This is the first time we are having a project of such magnitude aimed at addressing the issues of employment and public financial management, which is being financed with credit from the World Bank for a period of five years,’’ he added.
It will be recalled that the SEEFOR project became effective in July 2013 and several activities and programmes have been implemented in the last nine months both at the National and sub-national levels.

‘‘The choice of job creation and Public Financial Management as focal areas of intervention under the SEEFOR project is very apt and timely. It is not only consistent with the aspiration of Government’s Transformation Agenda and Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020, but also aligned with the theme for Nigeria’s 2014 budget which is tagged “Budget for Job creation and inclusive growth.”

‘‘This is expected to complement Government’s action in addressing the issues at the sub national level, especially in the Niger Delta region, where high rate of unemployment resulted in youth militancy and its associated consequences.

It will be reached that the World Economic Forum recently hosted by Nigeria had one of its pillars anchored on Job Creation. This is no coincidence but a reiteration of the national and global effort at addressing the issue of unemployment,’’ he further explained.

In his remarks, the Head of European Union delegation in Nigeria, Michael Arrion
Reaffirmed the commitment of the EU community to address the problem of joblessness, which he said is the major factor that is breeding terrorism.

He said evidence had shown that terrorism organizations emerge very often, in countries where poverty is endemic and entrenched, believing that by addressing the problem of unemployment the root cause of terrorism would be addressed as well.

He urged federal government and all the participating states to ensure judicious use of the resources to actualise the set objective.

On her part, the new World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Marie Francoise World, expressed solidarity with Nigeria in its moment of difficulty and commended the National Planning Commission and the participating states in the project for their dedication in keying into the project before the formal launch yesterday.

While expressing her enthusiasm on the proposed outcome, she said that the project the project when implemented is expected to create over 30,000 jobs across the country.

According to her, the project is expected to support the education, agriculture and women ministries and their component agencies by building capacity and efficient service delivery.
She urged government to ensure strong participation of the affected communities and civil society organizations for better delivery of results.

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