Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday approved the establishment of a Nigerian youth investment fund for N75 billion.
The ‘youth bank’ is created to support youth enterprise among Nigeria’s 68 million youth between ages of 18 and 35.
Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare disclosed this to State House Correspondents at the over eight hours meeting.
According to him, youth within this age group with genuine business ideas are to pitch their ideas in any of the 125 micro credit banks across the country and qualified candidates will have access to the funds.
Dare assured that just as the N-power programme, the process is digital and will be fair to all youth aged 18 – 35 regardless of their ethnicity or social status.
According to the Minister, “For the first time in the history of Nigeria, the Federal Executive Council today approved the establishment of the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) to the tune of N75 billion. This fund is meant to create a special window for accessing credit facilities and financing on the part of our youths that will help to fund their ideas, innovations and also support their enterprise.
“The best way to call it is that for the first time the country will have a youth bank. A fund that will cater specifically for our youth within the stipulated age band, which is going to be between 18 and 35 years.
“The second approval that secured was for the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to play a lead role in working on necessary steps that need to be taken in terms of legislation, organisation and other aspects of financing.
“The Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning will take the lead when it comes to the aspect of financing, working with the CBN, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and other relevant MDAs. A couple of other details will be released later, but I think the most important thing is that the N75 billion Nigerian Youth Investment Fund, to cater specifically for this target group, a population of over 68 million, got the attention and support of the Federal Executive Council today and this fund will be assessed by our youths, once they are able to present their ideas, they can assess this fund directly.”
The Minister of Work and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said council a memorandum on the initiative of the President as to source of bitumen locally, for road construction.
Fashola explained, “It was a policy memorandum which revealed that a significant amount of bitumen we used in road construction in Nigeria is imported, therefore creating jobs abroad and we recommended to council to approve a directive to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Ministry of Mines and Steel to develop strategies to enhance, stimulate, and encourage local production of bitumen.
“Essentially, that policy recommendation was approved by the council today to encourage bitumen production locally in Nigeria. This will of course help to further diversify the economy and open another sub-sector of the extractive and hydro-carbon industry for local opportunities.
“We see a demand of 500,000 metric tonnes of bitumen locally per annum. So, we encourage those who can manufacture and produce bitumen locally to tap into this demand. We see the opportunity for thousands of jobs to be created directly if this is done. And government intends to give encouragement and support to all those who take up this opportunity.
“We expect Kaduna Refinery to also raise its game by participating in this sub-sector of hydro-carbon industry. We expect that it will improve the quality of bitumen that is produced and goes into our road construction. Just as we are now able to control the quality of cement that goes into local construction.
“We are also promoting the use of more cement, stones, and rocks in road construction. Our ministry is now developing a design manual rock and stone in road construction in the country. “These are the framework of policy documentations that we presented to council today and they were approved. So, we expect the Nigerian entrepreneural community to now respond to all of the existing government policies for setting up businesses and embracing this policy as part of ways to develop our made-in-Nigeria capacity.”
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, on her part said the council approved the revision of a contract that was previously approved by council in 2018 for the supply and installation of three numbers rapsican mobile cargo scanner.
“These are large size cargo scanners that will be placed in Onne port, Port Harcourt port and Tin Can port. They are scanners that can actually drive containers through. That will fasten inspection and stop the need for the Customs to open containers and do the physical inspection as they are doing now that is causing us a lot of time as well as loss of revenue.
This contract is awarded to a company that is named Messrs Airwave limited and the contract is in the sum of $18.12 million of foreign component, there is also local component of N3. 255 billion inclusive of five percent VAT.
“The review became necessary in order to accommodate VAT which was not included in the initial contract and also due to dispute that we had arising from exchange rate differential. So we have now a resolution and an understanding and FEC approval for this contract to go on.
“The scanners are designed to aid effective revenue collection, the features that will screen for narcotics, weapons and undeclared items, they can also dictate arms and ammunition, legal importation and possession of arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria.
“The absence of these scanners will obviate the need for physical examination of goods and fast track the trade business report. This contract is for the Nigeria Customs Service.”
The council also approved the design, construction and supply of five numbers of fast ballistic reverie assault boats and five numbers patrol boats with all associated accessories in favour of Messre CY West African limited in the sum of N280, 992, 888,75 inclusive of 7.5 VAT.
She said: “The Nigerian Customs Service needs these boats to enhance its operational efficiency and combat smuggling activities on our waterways. This will also significantly boost revenue collection and other core duties of maritime unit of the Nigerian Customs Service.”