…Says it has Invested Heavily in Infrastructure …Apapa Gridlock Remains a Challenge President Muhammadu Buhari, says the Federal Government’s National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), has in three years, lifted no fewer than 5 million Nigerians out of extreme poverty. Buhari said this at the opening of the Global Youth Employment Forum of the International Labour
…Says it has Invested Heavily in Infrastructure
…Apapa Gridlock Remains a Challenge
President Muhammadu Buhari, says the Federal Government’s National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), has in three years, lifted no fewer than 5 million Nigerians out of extreme poverty.
Buhari said this at the opening of the Global Youth Employment Forum of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Abuja on Thursday.
He said that the forum was an opportunity for young persons to address the challenges of national economic stability.
Represented by Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Buhari commended the ILO for committing itself to youth employment, noting that the Federal Government had an in-depth understanding of the rapidly changing demographics and the emerging world of work.
“We note at this point that the issue of youth unemployment has assumed a global significance, and on the front burner of development discourse.
“The government of Nigeria understands the need to focus attention on youth empowerment by creating the enabling environment for job opportunities and capacity building.
“The present administration from the onset, made the investment in our people, one of the key goals of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, which is the national development blueprint from the period of 2017 to 2020.
“The implementation of the plan also has the flagship programme such as the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP).
“It has yielded some measurable outcomes in the form of increased school enrolment and the creation of more jobs.
“One of the key components of the NSIP is the N-Power programme and its sub-components has led to the creation of job opportunities in different sectors of the economy for young persons.
“For example, in the past three years, the programme has yielded over 2 million direct and indirect employment opportunities and has lifted over 5 million Nigerians out of extreme poverty.
“In addition to this achievement, some sectors of the economy with high propensity for massive job creation and employment generation were specifically targeted by the government for various forms of support.’’
Buhari noted that these sectors included Agriculture, Solid Minerals, Power, Works and Housing, Trade and Investment, and also in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The President said some programmes of the federal government were also targeted at the informal sectors, improving their capacity and boosting the domestic economy, such as the import restriction the executive order on ease of doing business.
The ILO Director General, Mr Guy Ryder, called on governments and the social partners to foster pro-employment growth and decent job creation through macroeconomic policies.
According to him, with right macro-economic policies in place, it will promote youth employability, youth entrepreneurship and rights to tackle the social consequences of youth unemployment.
“There is the need to promote macroeconomic policies and fiscal incentives that support employment and stronger aggregate demand, improve access to finance and increase productive investment, taking account of different economic situations in countries.’’
He recalled that at its 101st International Labour Conference in June 2012, the ILO adopted a Resolution calling for immediate, targeted and renewed action to tackle the youth employment crisis.
NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, said the event was an opportunity to cross-fertilise ideas in addressing the global challenge of unemployment and under-employment.
He said that young persons have the potential to contribute positively to national development, stressing the hope that the forum would seek out solutions to the fundamental issues fuelling the challenge of work.
Earlier, Mr Williams Alo, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, said the forum reminded all countries to do things differently, saying Nigeria could not continue to do things differently and expected a positive change.
“After three years of rising unemployment rates, the ILO 2018 World Employment Social Outlook forecast a slight drop in global unemployment rate from 5.6 per cent in 2017 to 5.5 per cent in 2018.
“However, with ever increasing number of persons entering into the labour market to seek employment, youth continue to face substantially worse labour market conditions that their adult counterparts,’’ he said.
In a related development, President Buhari said that he was saddened by the persistent chaotic situation around the Apapa Ports.
The President disclosed this when he received the leadership of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday.
He, however, expressed optimism that the problem would soon be resolved as the Federal and Lagos State Governments were working in harmony to bring an end to the problem.
“I must admit the Apapa gridlock still remains a challenge. It saddens me that businesses have had to suffer as a result of this.
Buhari also reassured Nigerians that his administration would continue to support the private sector to flourish and create more jobs in the country.
He revealed that the Federal Government had invested heavily in infrastructure development, and also supported development banks to provide loans to traders and small enterprises.
“In the last four years, we have invested heavily in infrastructure development. We supported our development banks to provide loans to traders and small enterprises. We signed executive orders to support local content consumption. We also focused on enhancing the Ease of Doing Business to facilitate investment.’’
He said that the Federal Government also aligned with the monetary authorities which had significantly contributed to the successes recorded.
On the recently signed African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Buhari said the consultative approach Nigeria took on the Free Trade Agreement was just another example of government’s desire for sustainable and inclusive growth.
He said that the consultative team had visited all the geopolitical zones, and met with farmers, commodity traders, manufacturers, bankers and stock brokers, adding “we listened and made note of their views.
“Our studies revealed that although the services sector was doing okay, other key job creating sectors such as manufacturing and processing were still lagging behind.
“This is evident by the fact that intra-African trade only accounts for 14 per cent of Africa’s total trade. As a continent, our consumption is mostly of goods imported from outside the continent.
“We viewed this as both an opportunity and a threat. It is an opportunity as Nigerian manufacturers can aggressively expand to meet the huge demand across the continent.
“It is a threat as one can abuse the rules of origin to flood the market with imports from outside the continent, thereby destroying jobs here at home.’’
He, however, said that Nigeria’s engagement in the next phase of the negotiations would ensure that proper safeguards were put in place to support African manufacturers.
“We shall continue to count on your support to ensure this goal is achieved,’’ he added.
Earlier, the President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr Babatunde Ruwase commended the President for signing the AfCFTA.
He also requested that the LCCI, which he described as the oldest in the country, be regularly invited to “state functions that are business and economy related.’’