The federal government yesterday announced the creation of the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme aimed at employing, annually, 20,000 graduates, who recently concluded the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

The job scheme came as government said the 5.01 per cent growth the economy recorded in the second quarter of 2021 was due to the present administration’s policy consistency and innovation.

Speaking while launching the programme, supported by the United Nations Development Programme and the European Union, at the State House, Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari said it would also provide opportunity for mentors. He said those who were already engaged in various industries, gained relevant experience, and built capacity over the years would have the opportunity to provide mentorship and support for young Nigerians.

According to Buhari, “Beyond the skills and work experience, we will be building a new culture of mentorship and guidance that can chart a new course for skills development and work experience in our country.

“We believe that as this programme creates new opportunities for 20,000 recent graduates annually, the beneficiaries will use the opportunities presented to them and maximise their 12 months of engagement.”

The president added that the programme would provide a pathway for young Nigerians to gain work experience in top-tier organisations, gain relevant skills, and build the right networks for the future in various sectors, including information and communications technology, financial services, trade, manufacturing, agriculture, and agro-processing.

“Other sectors include mining, telecommunications, creative industries and technology, education, health, research and development, and public sector institutions,” he stated, adding, “We believe that building the right skills and experiences across these sectors are important to sustain the economic growth we are experiencing.”

He said the programme would build on other efforts of the government to support young Nigerians, such as the N75 billion youth fund in the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, which was created to support young Nigerians in business or with business ideas, with N25 billion released annually for three years.

Buhari urged eligible Nigerians to apply for the jubilee programme, and called on the private sector to support the scheme by providing work placement opportunities, mentorship, and funding.

“I would like to say thank you to the United Nations Development Programme and the European Union for their support on this vital initiative. And I hereby declare the program open,” he added.

The president also explained the growth recorded in the second quarter of 2021, and said it was due to his administration’s consistency in policy and innovation, as well as its focus on job creation.

He stressed that the economic growth rate was the highest since his government came on board in 2015, and assured that Nigeria’s Jubilee Fellows Programme would further consolidate on the success recorded.

According to him, some of the key drivers of economic growth and diversification in the second quarter include telecommunications, transportation, electricity, agriculture, and manufacturing.

Buhari stated, “Tuesday, 22nd June, 2021, I set-up the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) steering committee to coordinate our work to fulfil my promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

“This is building on the positive results from the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and the targeted response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with the Economic Sustainability Plan.

“These efforts have yielded results with Nigeria recording its biggest economic growth in six years with a GDP growth of five per cent in the second quarter of 2021. The sectors that drove this growth are trade, telecommunications, transportation, electricity, agriculture, and manufacturing. Each of these sectors showed significant improvement and, thus, created more jobs for our populace.”

He also said, “An important part of our policies and strategies is the focus on employment and creating opportunities for our people. When this government was elected in 2015, we committed to increasing job opportunities for Nigerians and as part of our social investments programme we recruited 500,000 graduates into our N-power programme.”

Buhari noted that in 2019, he had directed that the number of graduates under the programme be increased to one million.

He said, “These graduates are recruited to work in agricultural, health and education institutions across the country. The N-power programme also has a non-graduate component that provides skills to tens of thousands of Nigerians in areas, such as technology, masonry, auto repairs, and carpentry.”

Earlier in his remarks, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Adeniyi Adebayo, said the government remained appreciative of the role of the private sector in transforming economies by creating employment and employment opportunities and investments.

Adebayo disclosed that start-ups, largely driven by young Nigerians, attracted 170 million dollars in the past year, which was the highest on the African continent. He said the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme was to celebrate the country’s 60th anniversary.

Adebayo noted the role of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in driving the initiative to fruition and the support of UNDP.

The Resident Representative of UNDP, Mohammed Yahya, assured that the United Nations would continually support Nigeria to develop human capacity across the country.

Yahya said, “Each day, young Nigerians continue to break barriers with their capacity and ingenuity. Young Nigerians have produced outstanding innovations. There is no shortage of talents in Nigeria.”

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