Jonathan made the remark at Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy and the Nigeria Youth Entrepreneurship Network launch held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja today.
He said since the inception of this administration that, it clearly identified unemployment, especially among the youths, as one of the biggest challenges. “We recognized that the transformation of our economy from an oil-based economy to a non-oil economy presented the greatest opportunities for job creation in our country, and as a result, we embarked on diversifying our economy. Today, I am happy to report to Nigerians that this effort has yielded positive results to date, with the creation of about 1.4 million jobs on average per annum for our youth, and we are working hard to improve on this.
He said given the depth of the unemployment problem, his government understood from the onset the need to directly intervene in job creation through a number of carefully designed programs. “As you all know, our labour market is stratified, consisting of youth with different skillset and capacity. So to ensure no group is left out, we designed programs tailored to the various skill-sets.
“We started with the implementation of the Community Services Scheme, under the SURE-P Program to cater for unskilled youth, and so far over 120,000 young Nigerians, including 42,000 women and 4,700 physically challenged youth across our country have been engaged in various projects like road maintenance, community security, sanitation, and so on. Several of these youth are also being trained in various skills so that they can succeed in the labour market.
“In the same spirit, we started the Graduate Internship Scheme, targeting university graduates with one year internships in private sector led enterprises, so that they can acquire requisite skills and experience that can improve their long-term employability.
“So far, about 22,000 young graduates have been placed under this program, and we are ramping up efforts to ensure that many more graduates are supported.
“We also have programs like YouWin and Nagropreneurs to support highly skilled youth and budding entrepreneurs. These programs have been designed to ensure that young Nigerians get training, mentoring, and more critically access to finance through grants, which had been difficult for them to access in the past, to set up their own companies, which will then employ their fellow youth.
“Today I am proud to say that this will be the first government in the history of Nigeria that will directly create 5,400 young entrepreneurs through the YouWin program.
“I am also proud to say that the first 2,400 entrepreneurs have created an average of nine jobs each, with a total of 22,000 jobs so far. Nagropreneurs program will also support 750,000 young farmers across our nation. These programs have demonstrated that a lot can be achieved through entrepreneurship.
We know that Entrepreneurs are the engine room of Nigeria’s economy. Our Entrepreneurs are responsible for more than 60% of our $510 billion dollars GDP, and our Micro, Small and Medium business sector is responsible for almost 98 per cent of the new jobs created in our economy on an annual basis. This simply means that Nigeria is truly a Nation of Entrepreneurs.
“I am therefore particularly excited that we are launching a broad-based public private partnership called the Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy that will redefine the way we engage and support the empowerment and employment of our young people and women going forward. The goal of this Strategy is to speed up an already fast moving train called Entrepreneurship, running across our NATION to empower our youth and women. That is why the Federal Government of Nigeria is proud to partner with the Anabel Group to promote and manage theNYENET.COM portal.
“NYENET.COM, an online portal, is a one stop shop to empower and support Nigerian youths. By going to one online portal, NYENET.COM, our young people can access hundreds of Federal and State Government empowerment programs.
“Besides enhancing the ability of our young people to choose the program that is right for them, this portal will also enhance the Federal Government’s ability to reach out to our young people.
“So whether you require education or you require funding for your business, or in some cases all you require is a mentor to guide you through the tough economic conditions, you can find support with this strategy and by using this portal.
“The Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy goes further to fill the gaps in many of our entrepreneurship programs by providing bankable business ideas to support young people that do not have ideas, or those that their great ideas have not found interest with the banks and financing institutions.
“I am particularly pleased by the fact that the Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy does not leave the support work for Government alone. A major pillar of the strategy is the partnership with the private sector, in which private organizations and private successful business people can support youths in their own communities by signing up and providing funds for selected young people to own and operate their own businesses.
“I also want to encourage all of us here today and the privileged ones all across Nigeria to support our young people all over Nigeria by signing up and joining the coalition of Super Mentors on the NYENET.com portal. I already consider myself a Super Mentor and I expect that many more of us will follow in this direction, as it will improve the lives of millions of our young people.
“I acknowledge the efforts of the Anabel Group in driving entrepreneurship, empowerment and the employment of our youth, and we expect more of such efforts from our private sector.
“On this note, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I hereby adopt this Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy, and formally declare OPEN the Nigeria Youth Entrepreneurship Network portal for our young people and Super Mentors to SIGN UP, to the glory of God and the advancement of our dear country,” Jonathan said.