JONATHAN'S JOB SCHEME
The Federal Government recently launched a new job creation scheme code-named Youwin. It is targeted at creating at least 100,000 jobs for youths between the ages of 18 and 35 years within the next four years.
Speaking at the ceremony heralding the scheme in Abuja, President Goodluck Jonathan said the programme was the fulfilment of his electoral promise to the youths for job generation and wealth creation.
The president gave reasons for specifically targeting the youths. His words, 'My concern is that we need to grow the population of such positively - attuned youth, identify them early and support them by giving them a chance to be who they want to be'.
In that regard, government plans to fund the scheme with N50 billion. This was already provided in the 2011 budget. The President noted that the scheme was a demonstration of his administration's plan to develop a robust private sector by encouraging locally-owned enterprises.
The recipients of the scheme will be largely owners of existing formal and informal businesses. They will be required to submit detailed business proposals for consideration. Government has assured a level-playing field for all participants.
We welcome the scheme. On paper, it is a laudable project and a rapid response scheme to arrest the current high rate of joblessness among the youth in the country.
The latest unemployment statistics show that unemployment in the country has reached a double digit of 21 percent. The youths are the worst hit, according to the figures. The Youwin scheme may well be the much-anticipated government antidote against youth unemployment and the needed platform that will bolster wealth creation.
This is because any society that neglects its active population is playing with a time bomb. But of critical importance is the fact that youth empowerment is the bedrock of the sector of the citizenry that leads wealth creation. The economy would be the better for it. Remarkably, the path of economic growth starts with identifying the essential elements to socio-economic development.
No doubt, Youwin may be nobly intended. However, it must go beyond policy enunciation, and down to the realities of the times. For the scheme to achieve its objectives, the fund must strictly be channeled towards those it is intended - the youth - and to no other group else.
Experience has shown that past government plans were dead on arrival because the implementors of the programmes used them as avenues to ingratiate themselves and their cronies. It has become easier in Nigeria to throw money at problems confronting the country rather than use it to solve them. Youwin should not be a victim of this old habit of our national malaise.
We advise that before the scheme takes off, proper planning should take place through a painstaking identification of those who really have the best business ideas that can bolster wealth creation. Wealth creation has a multiplier effect if the enterprise is a quality - empowered business. Those entrusted with the disbursement of the fund should learn the lessons from the failure of similar projects like National Directorate for Employment (NDE) and the Directorate for Food and Rural Infrastructure (DFRI). These were two laudable schemes that failed due to lack of discipline, transparency and focus on the agenda for setting up such programme.
The burden on those entrusted with the task of creating jobs is to carry out their assignment with clarity of purpose. Youwin should be taken seriously as one good initiative that should be honestly pursued in the interest of our youths.