The Federal Government says the N75 billion Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) has been approved as part of efforts to harness the potential of Nigerian youth.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, made this known at an event in Abuja on Friday, to celebrate youth as Nigeria marks its 60th Independence Anniversary.
The event, with the theme, “My Nigerian Dream”, was organised by the Ministry of Youth Sports Development in collaboration with a Non-Governmental Organisation, “I Choose Life Foundation”.
Dare said it was President Muhammadu Buhari’s belief in the talent, skills and innovative ideas of the youth that prompted the establishment and approval of the NYIF.
He said, “the sum of N75 billion in three years has been approved by the president because he believes in your dream as youth.
“For the first time, this country is investing directly in our youth. So, government is taking a risk on our youth with this fund.
“We will all enjoy from this fund and before the end of this month the programme will be rolled out at all levels. I want to urge our youth take advantage of this opportunity.
“If you have a brilliant idea and you are a youth, you can get between N250,000 and N50 million, depending on the proposal submitted.
“You must show us clearly that you have the market, resources and manpower to access the fund.”
He further said, “our youth need to embark on the part of discovering their talents and passion.
“There is a role for government and there are roles individual youth must play to help them harness their potentials.
“One of the major problems is that most youth businesses do not last more than six months to one year.
” This is basically because most of them do not have the requisite accounting or business experience.
“This is a very fundamental problem and that is why most commercial banks are weary of giving them credit facilities.
“So, what we have done is to make sure that before you get funding from the trust fund there will be a one-week online training.
“We have developed the module on business management and basic accounting to help them manage whatever they get from the fund.”
He enjoined the youth to be diligent in what they do, saying, “there is no over night success, so, when you graduate as a youth, you must learn the rope by developing your skills.
He expressed concern about complaints by youth on lack of opportunities, revealing that there are several opportunities provided by government but regretted that most youth do not want to take advantage such opportunities.
According to him, rather than surf the internet for opportunities, a lot of Nigerian youths “spend up to 7 hours daily online doing nothing serious.
“Two weeks ago, Google reached out to the ministry and came up with 3.7 million dollars to support youth led small business in Nigeria.
“We are starting the processes before the end of this month and our youths can enjoy from the fund by applying online.
“You have to take the opportunity as government will not bring the cheque to your doorsteps.
“Again, Google has committed to train 500,000 youths in Nigeria and that will be provided online and as soon as the e-platform is ready, Google will connect you with us.”
He commended the creativity and resilience of Nigerian youth, urging them not to give up on their dreams.
In her remarks, the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, assured Nigerian youth and women that their success was dear to the president.
According to her, President Buhari is concerned about what affects youth and women in the country, indicating that efforts are being made to assist them attain their potentials.
“The N75 billion trust fund is a sign of President Buhari’s commitment to youth development, and I therefore celebrate all Nigerian youth and thank the “I Choose Life Foundation” for this great initiative.
“Nigeria we know is blessed with natural and human resources and the youth are a great asset,” she said.
Mr Chijoke Obioma, Coordinator of “I choose Life Foundation”, said the programme was organised to celebrate the Nigerian Youth.
He expressed joy that in spite of challenges faced by youth in the country, they are beginning to tell their own stories.
Obioma assured that the foundation would continue to harness youth potential through capacity building and mentorship.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that there was a discussion session, which featured youths, including a 15-year-old girl, Samira Bello, who developed an online application on youth mental health.
Also, over 100 Arts were exhibited to the virtual audience and physical audience present at four locations, Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Rivers states.
Meanwhile, the highpoint of the event was the presentation of a book, Heroes Book Series, by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.
Heroes Book Series, tagged, “Mum I Can Fly”, is produced by “I Choose Life Foundation” in honour of late Tolulope Arotile, the first female combat helicopter pilot in Nigeria, who died on July 14.
Edited By: Vincent Obi