By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA – President Muhammadu Buhari has requested the appropriation of N157.75 billion in the 2017 budget estimates for the N-Power scheme to hire additional 350,000 unemployed graduates under the N-Power Volunteer Corps.
Mr. Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to Acting President Yemi Osinabjo made the disclosure on Sunday while giving update on the Social Investment Programmes, SIPs, of the Buhari’s presidency in a statement.
He said that out of the N-Power 2017 N157 billion budget ” 350,000 unemployed graduates more would be hired and trained, alongside 50,000 non-graduates youths to be engaged as artisans and in other creative ventures”.
He also stated that “Under the N157.75 also, a sum of N4.5B has been earmarked for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM program to support young Nigerians in building skills in those disciplines.”
Akande told Nigerians to expect more this year especially in the area of implementation, saying that all of the SIPs are now undergoing different stages of implementation.
“While we were able to engage 200,000 unemployed graduates last year, we will do 350,000 more this year,” he assured, adding that some of the teething problems are giving way to lessons that would smoothen implementation under the 2017 budget.
The vice presidential spokesman further disclosed that “about N75 billion has been allocated for the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme, which will provide one hot meal a day to 5 million primary school pupils”.
He explained that “this would certainly be an improvement on how far the feeding programme has been implemented so far under the 2016 budget which has so far attained the feeding of about one million pupils.”
Akande also stated “that under the 2017 budget a sum of N112.2B has been allocated for the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEE, aimed at providing interest-free loans to up to 1.2million market men and women, traders, artisans, youths and farmers.”
Under the GEEP, he explained that beneficiaries would receive between N10,000 and N100,000 loans with a one-time 5% administrative fee.
According to him, over 20,000 Nigerians in over 14 states and have been benefiting from GEEP already under the 2016 budget of SIP.
He added that “the Conditional Cash Transfer which has kicked off in 9 states would be further expanded under the 2016 budget and will reach more states and much more Nigerians. The plan in 2016 budget targets one million poorest and vulnerable Nigerians. And in the 2017 budget an additional N54.98B has been allocated for the continuation of the N5000 monthly social safety net payments to the poorest Nigerians.”
Akande further clarified that while President Buhari has approved another N500 billion in 2007 for all the social intervention programmes, N100 billion out of it, has been allocated for the Family Homes Fund, saying that it has already been announced by the Ministry of Finance.
“2017 implementation of the SIP is going to be far more impactful than what we were able to do under the 2016 budget, so Nigerians should expect more this year, the resolve of the Buhari presidency is firm that more lives must be touched positively under this programmes which Nigerians have come to appreciate,” Akande said