#SenateOnJobCreation Special Youth Public Hearing on Job Creation And Entrepreneurship

Today, 11th December, 2017 the Nigerian Senate held a special youth public hearing on job creation and entrepreneurship.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Senators Gershom Bassey, Binta Masi Garba, Jibrin Barau and the Chief of Staff to the Senate President, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed were present at the event.
Representatives from Youth Initiative for Advocacy growth and Advancement (YIAGA), Mind the gap Nigeria (Mindthe_GapNg), Connected Development (Connected_Dev), African Youth Initiative on population, health and development (AfrYPoD) and members of the public.
President/ CEO of High Tech Centre for women and youths, Dr. Wunmi Hassan (Ph.D) took the podium to make her presentation. She harps on the need for a database for unemployed youth in Nigeria. She also stated that Youth development has serious political, economic and social implication for Nigerian society.

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki delivered his welcome address and said the event is a continuation of the Youth Development Roundtable discussion that I and my Distinguished Senate colleagues sponsored on 9 October 2017. #SenateOnJobCreation. It is imperative that the National Assembly, the Federal Government, the private sector and civil society focus immediate attention to the youth unemployment and developmental crisis facing our Country.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki in his welcome address said the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) estimates Nigeria has a youth labour force of 38.2 million people, of this number 15.2 million people are out of work or seeking work. Available statistics also shows a majority of unemployed youth are female. He said the primary factors contributing to high youth unemployment are:
1.High population growth outpacing economic growth,
2. School curricula have not equipped students with appropriate skills for employment,
3.Lack of vibrant industries to absorb competent graduates. Therefore, it is intended for our discussions to inform our budgetary and social policy decisions. For that matter I am happy that this process has benefitted from the contributions of many civil society organizations (CSOs) that focus on youth development and empowerment.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki stated further that the participation of CSOs is important because their grassroots networks and ideas serves to strengthen the legitimacy of the policy making and democratic process. We look forward to hearing your feedback about today’s session and to working with you on behalf of Nigeria’s youth.
Mrs. Maryam Uwais, Special Adviser to Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari for social protection plan mentioned the conditional cash transfer programme and the NPower scheme as some of the Federal government initiatives that youths benefit from. She also stated that the NPower is for graduates and non graduates and also states that a technological hub is presently in Lagos and Yola on real energy (climate change) for youths between the ages of 18 to 35.
‘We have set up training on agriculture to boost job creation and on ease of doing business we hope to break into the 1st hundred Countries within 12 months.’- DG research and policy from the ministry of trade and investment.
‘Through the Young Business Owners in Nigeria, Small and medium size enterprise (SMEDAN) sensitizes and engages young entrepreneurs on various forms of businesses and pay for work spaces for these entrepreneurs for one year. Banks do not accede to the loan request of small businesses because they consider them risky.’- Mr. Monday Ewans of SMEDAN.
Celestine Okeke, Lead Partner at Sustainable Economic Entrepreneurship and Development Initiative (SEED) speaks on funding for micro, small and medium-size enterprises.
‘Are these youth development programs designed with targets? The impression that we are getting is that some of these programs are designed to keep the people working there working, and not create new jobs for our youth.’Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s question to MDAs.
‘By the time that we finish talking today, we have to redefine how we spend the funds for these programs and how to make them more effective for better service delivery.’ – Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
‘We do have targets of 5000 youths, enterprises of 1.6million and school feeding of 5.5 million’. – Mrs. Maryam Uwais’s response to Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s question.

‘What gets measured gets done. All we have heard today are programs. We need to hear about outcomes. It is these outcomes that will impact the performance of your programs. This will give us a better perspective.’ -Senator Gershom Bassey.
‘The APC government made a commitment to employ 500,000 youths this is done through the N-Power project. It is expected that after 2 years, beneficiaries develop themselves and take ownership of their lives.’ -Mrs. Maryam Uwais.
‘The N-Power currently has 177,000 beneficiaries out of the 500,000 expected target youths who are paid monthly.’- Mr. Afolabi, SSA to Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari on job creation.
There is no sustainability for social intervention programs, from PAP, now N-Power. What happens to beneficiaries of N-Power after two years? – Senator Binta Garba.
“As at November, there are a thousand beneficiaries of N-Power who are on payment hold due to absence from work amongst other things.” – Mr. Afolabi SSA to the President on Job Creation.
“We want to make our Corps Members self-employed. The challenge is funding. NYSC is not empowered to fund Corps Members businesses, so we go into partnerships.” -Representative from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
“There used to be a grant that we received directly from government. This grant was to fund the war against poverty. It was targeted at Agro-Enterprises for Corps Members. Out of this fund, 5000 Corps Members were actively engaged. The issue of funding being so key to the issue of youth development should be taken up at the level of Federal legislation.” -Representative from National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
Senate President, Bukola Saraki in his closing remark said the Public Hearing provided us with an opportunity to see how agencies of the Federal Government are dealing with the issue of youth unemployment and development. There is clearly a lot of work that needs to be done. There is clearly poor monitoring in most cases. There is also a lot of overlap between agencies and departments of the Federal Government, however, there is not enough inter-agency collaboration.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki also said for as long as we continue to spend money on training young people, with no plan on what we should do after training our young people, there is need for a central point in the Federal Government where the coordination of some of these youth job creation activities is to be done. He went further to say my own recommendation to my colleagues when we start the budget defence will be to put a hold on some of these programs until we know what we are doing. This is because some of these programs are clearly not taking us anywhere. We are just spending the money, yet, some of these agencies cannot tell us how many young people they are really going to employ from these programs.
‘An organization like the Bank of Industry (BOI) needs to reach out to other agencies that are doing different types of trainings to see how they can pick them up from that point. As some of my colleagues have pointed out, we must focus on the outcomes and targets of these intervention programs. As such, we really need to review all the budgets of these MDAs to ensure that they are effectively delivering on their mandate.’- Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki in his closing remarks to bring the public hearing to an end stated that for the youths and the NGOs, we all need to have a holistic approach and review of what is going on with d creation across the country.

New Media Department,
Office of the Senate President.
Federal Republic of Nigeria.