We aim to reduce poverty among Nigerian youths –World Bank chief

The World Bank Country Director in Nigeria, Mrs. Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, has said one of the greatest desires of the Bank in the country was to substantially reduce the level of poverty among the youth and provide necessary support, in collaboration with the Federal and State Governments, which would enable the teeming youth to contribute to national development.

She explained that hence the interventions of the multilateral institution’s programmes in the country were specifically designed to mitigate the burden of the poor and the vulnerable in their efforts to eke out a living.

Disclosing this at the occasion of the formal launching of the Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO) programme by the Federal Government in Abuja, Marie-Nelly, said she was delighted about the kick off of the project being the first she was involved from the period of conceptualisation and delivery.

Describing the programme as a clear response of the government request to address a major challenge in Nigeria and is relating to youth employment and improving social provision in the country, the World Bank Country Director explained that the initiative was just a flag-ship programme that is expected to cover all the states strong and focus on providing a social safety net platform for tackling poverty.

She said: “I am particularly happy about this project because it is the first by the World Bank that I have been able to follow from conception to delivery.

When I arrived in August 2011 we had the concept review meeting, I came and saw it through.

This is clearly a response of the government request to address a major challenge in Nigeria and is relating to youth employment and improving social provision in Nigeria. “This is just a flag ship that is expected to cover all the states.

In the first phase we have seven states from all the geopolitical zones and we expect to have more states in the second phase. We aim to reduce extreme poverty with particular focus on youths, and also educating them as well as providing skills. There is a strong focus of providing a social safety net platform because we know that one major constraint of poor to access educational services is poverty.

“The occasion is focused on strengthening national institutions. We are pleased to see the partnership we have with the states and we see in them the willingness to be on ground as soon as possible. One of the key components is that we have agreed that at least fourth per cent of the participants should be women and girls. It is an extremely innovation venture and we know that it will work. We commend the team for the hardworking they have done.

“The target which is a key element is the community participating, the poor households and being able to link this programme with the new system that the Federal Government is putting in place.

We are very keen to see the programme getting off the ground and pleased that the orientation is taking place this week”, Marie-Nelly added. Earlier in her remarks, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. NgoziOkonjo-Iweala, who launched the programme, said the YESSO was another initiative of the Federal Government aimed at partnering with state governments and other stakeholders in Nigeria to create new enterprises and jobs, reduce and eradicate poverty, build human capital and empower community especially the youth and poor in this nation.

She commended the World Bank and other partners for responding to Federal Government’s request for the needed instruments to address the socio-economic challenges of those at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder through job creation for youths, women, skilled and unskilled citizens and building a social safety net that will be lasting and enduring in this country in order to take care of our masses.

The Minister expressed Federal Government’s delight that the states are working together to ensure that the $300m support from the World Bank is devoted to YESSO programme.

Okonjo-Iweala said: “As we go along, we will build a registry of beneficiaries and begin to have a very strong record and those at the bottom end of the ladder in the country who need assistance will be ascertained.

“You cannot target and help those who need help if you don’t know who they are. One of the things that will be done is to begin to register them. This will complement what is being done at SUREP at both federal and state levels because the federal government is using it to create jobs and this is what the states are also doing”, the Minister added.

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