Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday unveiled the official logo of the N75 billion Nigeria Youth Investment Fund for the period of 2020 – 2023.
This novel fund is dedicated to investing in the innovative ideas, skills and talents of Nigerian Youth and to provide them with a special window to access much needed financing, business management skills and other inputs critical for sustainable enterprise.
Buhari who was represented by the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello at the first edition of National Youth Day, which coincides with the African Youth Day celebrations across the continent.
According to him, the event symbolises the importance his administration attaches and the priority it seek to give the nation’s young population.
President noted that the maiden National Youth Day which was recently approved in August 2020 is the reaffirmation of his administration’s belief that the Nigerian Youth deserves recognition, validation and attention.
He said: “The pivotal role played by Nigerian Youth as agents for social change, economic growth and sustainable development led this Administration to declare every 1st November henceforth as National Youth Day. This gathering presents an important opportunity to speak to young people in Nigeria and in the diaspora.”
President again assured the ENDSARS protesters that all their demands will be met.
He said: “Today, I cannot stand before you and discuss Nigerian youth without talking about the current situation in the country. This administration is more than mindful of the recent protests and grievances against police brutality.
“Like every good Nigerian, I oppose the wrongful use and imposition of violent force against any innocent, law-abiding persons, particularly our youth. No one who is obeying the law, whether they are in line waiting for a taxi or in a peaceful protest line, should be harassed or brutalized by law enforcement agencies.
“It is because of my abiding belief in the people’s constitutional rights that we moved with dispatch to abolish SARS and to consider other reforms that will enhance the quality of law enforcement and improve the relationship between the police and public which is a pre-requisite in a just society.
“To allow protests is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and belief in democracy, and faith in the innate goodness of our people. This also shows confidence in the ability of our government to work with the people toward a reasonable and practical resolution to any challenge.
“Let me add a word of advice to the protesters and I hope that they accept it in the spirit with which it is offered. This government extends a hand to you to come join in meaningful dialogue so that we may chart a way forward that will include necessary reforms needed for our police and other security services.
“Your pleas have been heard. Now we want to hear your concrete and practical ideas.
“You must realize that protests cannot last indefinitely. Our government will not lift a hand to stop or suppress you. However, the fact of the matter is that other forces and actors will seek to take over your protests that they may redirect them in ways you did not intend and perhaps do not agree with.
“Every successful protest movement the world over has understood that there comes a time when activity must move from the street to the negotiation table. That time for you has come. Do not be afraid. Welcome the chance to talk to government.
“It is important that we all strive to use this moment constructively. Too many people have already been lost. It is our duty to use this fateful situation to move ourselves to a more just and caring society. You have a future to build. This government will always be your faithful partner in this essential and patriotic endeavor.”
President Buhari affirmed his administration’s faith and confidence in the indivisible entity called Nigeria and in its future.
“We face many challenges but, in you, this nation has the collective ability and drive to overcome that which confronts us. To succeed you must believe in a better and more progressive Nigeria.
“To build this better and finer nation, we must first give youth the skills and tools to become the active architects, engineers, carpenters and masons to drive this society.
“You owe it to yourselves to imbibe the attitude of national progress and personal success.”
The President announced that over one million applications have already been received since the Youth Investment Fund Portal went live on 12th of October 2020.
He listed other youth-based initiatives, consistent with his administration’s policy of positioning youths for strategic leadership in different fields of endeavour, as follows:
”The birth of the Nigerian Youth Policy in 2019, the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund in July 2020, Young Farmers Initiative, Digital Skills, Entrepreneurship, Employability and Leadership/Mentoring (DEEL) programme, which recently received an approval of N4 billion naira for implementation, and the Not Too Young to Run Act.”
Other initiatives, according to the President, include the Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme (P-YES) , the N-Power, SI and Disaster Management, the Youth Entrepreneurship Support (YES) Programme , Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS) and the Youth Enterprise with Innovation In Nigeria (YouWIN).
The President also added the $20 million Technology Fund for Young Innovators as some of the major initiatives empowering youths across the country.
Restating his call for national unity, President Buhari said Nigerian youths are better positioned to drive the indivisibility of Nigeria and collectively overcome whatever challenges bedevilling the nation.
At the event with the theme: ”Invest in the Youth, Secure Our Future”, the winners of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development 60-day App Challenge and Youth Innovators were recognised and received cash rewards.
While the 10 winners of the 60-day APP challenge competition got N1 million each, the five young innovators in different fields, got N500,000 each.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, said the 15 youth represent the lot and remind us of the power and potentials of our youth as a country.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development had in July, in response to the on-going COVID-19 Pandemic, in partnership with the public and private sector actors, invited young Nigerians to participate in the 60 Day App Development Challenge aimed at engaging them to compete with one another in the art of mobile application design.
Interested app developers were to get their fellow Nigerians connecting seamlessly and safely with each other, and conducting their businesses even as the pandemic is still an ongoing concern. App submissions must solve a problem within the following fields: Edu-Tech, Agri-Tech, Sport, Health, Fin-Tech and Telecommunications.
The ministry had promised that the best set of applications will attract multi-million naira prizes and training to further develop the applications.
The challenge which kicked off on Wednesday 8th July 2020 was supported by the Bank of Industry (BOI), Industrial Trust Fund (ITF), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), IBM, Microsoft, Afrilabs, 21st Century and NINE.