The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, on Thursday alleged that many youths across the country were not aware of the various ongoing Federal Government’s youth intervention programmes.
Dare, who was in Minna, Niger, to inaugurate the All Progressives Congress (APC) youth leaders meeting for the 36 states and Abuja, said that their ignorance of the programmes resulted in the ENDSARS’ protests across the country.
“My ministry compiled a compendium of the opportunities and intervention programmes created for the youth by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last five years and half, and we were able to come up with as many as 25 of them.
“Unfortunately, we also found out that most, if not all, of those that protested were not aware of these opportunities. They were in part angry with the government without realizing that the government has created and continues to create these opportunities for them. The scenario need not have been like this,” he said.
He said that the government decided to make the information available to the youth leaders so that they can in turn disseminate it to the teeming youth of the country, using their extensive network, pointing out that knowing about these opportunities was not enough, unless the youth took advantage of them.
“We must make conscious efforts to follow up with the people in our networks and constituencies to take action and apply for these programmes so as to derive the benefits they have to offer,” he said.
He said that the Digital skills acquisition, Employability, Entrepreneurship and Leadership (DEEL) initiative of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development was prepared to train 500,000 youth in digital skills, to ensure they are appropriately equipped with the skills necessary to disseminate information.
The minister said that the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF), approved by the Federal Executive Council, had begun accepting applications from youths who wished to access loans of between N250,000.00 and N3,000,000.00, once they met the criteria.
He said that government had also set up the Work Experience Programme to make our youth employable, by placing them in a work environment to get on the job training and experience, adding that a leadership skills and mentorship programme had also been provided by government, through the Citizen Leadership and Training Centre (CLTC) of the youth ministry.
Dare urged the youth leaders to propagate the message and other opportunities to the grassroots because ”as mobilizers and networkers, you are uniquely positioned to reach people in the grassroots who the traditional media of communication may not be ubiquitous.
“You must make use of this network at the grassroots to tell the youth about the opportunities that our government has provided for them and tell them about the other achievements of the government in order to counter the wrong notion that the government is not doing much”, he added.
The minister also said that the bulk of the youth population were online, on the social media and messaging platforms, therefore these platforms should be leveraged to reach them.
”The #EndSARS protests were coordinated from such platforms, which makes it pertinent that you take your message about what this government is doing to the youth online and to the social media space,” he explained.
He said that the APC, the government and all Nigerians have learnt the importance of constructively engaging the youth, “and that is precisely what we have started doing going forward”.
In his own address, Alhaji Abubakar Bello, the Niger governor, urged the youth to use the forum to discuss the socio-political challenges facing the nation.
Bello, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development Mr Emmanuel Umar, enjoined the youth to talk about the unity and development of the country and the sustainability of the APC.