Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has said empowerment can no longer solve the problem of unemployment in the country.
The minister spoke on Monday when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Youth Development to defend the ministry’s 2022 budget.
According to Dare, the ministry has gone beyond offering empowerment programmes to investing in youths across the country.
“We have a massive youths population, most of them waiting for opportunities for digital skills to upscale themselves, for opportunities to make themselves starters of entrepreneurs, for opportunities in the areas of education, technical and otherwise; and also looking for opportunities that will make them be included in government. These have been the focus of our budgets year in, year out and 2022 is no different.
“We have been in a hurry to get support for our youths, and as we speak today, 6,054 have benefitted from the Nigerian Youths Investment Fund, receiving between N250,000 to N3 million. We have gone ahead to make sure that on our website, we have released the names of the beneficiaries, the amount they received and the sector in which the SMEs are operated.
“Our goal is to ensure that we increase the number of beneficiaries, that is why we have developed our own loan management system. The loan management system will give us 100 per cent control. There is no country that has been able to fight youth unemployment without a deliberate policy on investing in the lives of their youths,” the minister said.
Dare said the ministry is working to create at least two youth development centres in each geopolitical zone to create more development opportunities for the youths.
“We have seen that with the number of population of our youths, there is no programme that we do that will be impactful unless we scale them up. We don’t just want to leave a dent, we want to make sure that the unburdening of our youths to any of our key programmes is accelerated and beneficial and that has been our major focus.
“We have been able to make a paradigm shift when it comes to youth development. That shift is at the continental and international levels. We have moved from mere empowerment to now investing in our youths because empowerment can no longer solve the problem of unemployment, empowerment is just like pocket money.
“We have our youths that are innovative, youths that are skilled, youths that have great ideas and we have bought into that. The NYF is in that direction. All our training are looking at investing in the lives of our youths, their ideas and enterprise,” he added.