By Akpandem James, Media Adviser to the Hon. Minister, Budget & National Planning.
The Federal Government is committed to its youth empowerment programmes and is considering adopting capacity to create jobs as one of the criteria for offering government contracts and assistance.
Budget and National Planning Minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who gave the indication at a forum with members of the 25th Regular Course on Policy, Strategy and Leadership of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), on Thursday, in Abuja, said the Federal Government views the unemployment situation in the country with great concern and has made job creation one of the major objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
The minister said the Plan aims to create jobs by developing labour-intensive sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, housing and construction and is also launching a number of public works programmes as well as encouraging private-sector participation in the economy.
Government, he said, is developing infrastructure in sectors with the capacity to create demand for labour and will sustain the N-Power programmes as well as continue to support small scale enterprises to maximize their potential for job creation.
According to him, there are other policies in place to encourage job creation including apprenticeship programme, supporting and patronizing Made in Nigeria Initiative to encourage local manufacturing.
To further give impetus to the drive, he said government will give necessary support to institutions that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics as a veritable foundation for building a knowledge-based economy.
He pointed out that the bulk of the initiatives under job creation will prioritize youth as beneficiaries and this is being pursued through direct job creation by the Federal Government and those created in the informal and formal sectors by the private sector, and skill-building programmes.
Senator Udoma emphasized that government will no longer give incentives to private investors on the basis of intentions but on the basis of results; and the driving principles will among others be how many jobs will be created, how much value will be added to the economy, the quality of goods produced and how much foreign exchange they can generate.
In driving the process of economic diversification and job creation, the Minister said government will be looking at everything, sector by sector and item by item, as the main focus is achieving results. It will leverage on the successes of sectors like the cement industry to drive other sectors.
Speaking on the prospects of the ERGP given that past plans were not successfully implemented, the Minister said the ERPG has a better chance of succeeding because annual budgets are aligned with the plan.
He said the support of NIPSS is important for the success of the plan pointing out that though government is propelled by the desire to make it work by showing leadership, success depends on everybody working together.
The leader of the team, Alhaji Asipata Umar, said NIPSS is very much interested in the successful implementation of the ERGP pointing out that the interest shown by Course 25 in the plan was the main reason for the visit.
He said the Institute is poised to work with the Ministry to see to its successful implementation.