Economy

FG Releases N288bn COVID-19 Intervention Fund, Saves 2.1m Jobs

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday, said the Federal Government’s has released about N288bn, from the N500bn set aside for COVID-19 intervention programmes under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).

In the process, according to him, the Muhammadu Buhari administration, saved at least 2.1m jobs, including new ones created, while over 4000km of federal and rural roads are at least 30% completed since the commencement of the ESP months ago.

Chairing a meeting of the Economic Sustainability Committee at the Presidential Villa, the Vice President urged members of the committee “to bear in mind that the vast majority of our people are not allowed to suffer.”

At the meeting, Ministers and heads of agencies executing various aspects of the administration’s Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) reported significant improvement in its implementation, as the Federal Government ramps up funding for projects across sectors to impact more Nigerians.

A statement by Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity Office of the Vice President, noted that 1.3m jobs have been saved under the Survival Fund scheme, and another 774,000 jobs created from the Public Works Programme, besides the total 26,021 jobs created from construction and rehabilitation works.

Other highlights of the meeting, Akande continued, include the release of the entire N5bn appropriated for the COVID-19 Aviation intervention, as well as another 50% funding, representing N26bn, for the Public Works scheme hiring 774,000 persons across the country, among others.

Commenting on the reports presented by ESC members at the meeting, Osinbajo said: “It will be fair to say that on account of the very good work that you all have done, we were able to get out of recession much faster than anyone would have imagined, although only marginally.”

Caption: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo virtually chairs the Economic
Sustainability Meeting at the State House, Abuja, on March 25, 2021.
Photos; Tolani Alli

Urging ministers and heads of agencies implementing key programmes of government not to rest on their oars, the Vice President stressed the importance of continually bearing “in mind that we really have a duty to ensure that the vast majority of our people are not allowed to suffer. So, I feel we should be thinking more about the next thing that we need to do.”

In digital skills support for youth and women, anchored by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba reported that N1.5bn or 50% of the amount appropriated for the scheme primarily targeted for job creation, has been released to the ministry.

He added that priority programmes for the intervention is the training of 600 youths (100 from each of the 6 geo-political zones) on VSAT technologies who will also be supported with laptops and stipends.

The Minister added that the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs has received N625m, or 50% of appropriated funds to implement an empowerment scheme for women through capacity building in innovation and vocational training.

For the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports, the Minister said N2.6bn, also representing 50% appropriation was released for implementation of youth employability improvement scheme through capacity building in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Others are: positioning Nigerian youths for digital remote jobs and equipping of youths digital/robotic training centres across the 6 geo-political zones, in addition to N1.25bn, being 50% of the earmarked fund, to the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons for implementation of programmes for vulnerable and displaced persons

These include construction of 400 housing units for persons of concern in Zamfara, Yobe, Katsina, and Edo states; eight Primary Healthcare Centres and others, as well as empowering 900 persons of concern with skills, starter packs and startup capital.  

In his own presentation, the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Mohammed Nanono, said N17bn has been released for rural roads project under the ESP, while about 5.8 million farmers enumerated out of which the data of 3.6 million have been validated.

In the works sector, Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola said a total number of 4,350 direct jobs were recalled and 18,321 indirect jobs were created through the engagement of the contractors and suppliers handling different works across the country.

Members of the ESC are: Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; Trade and Investment Minister, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Mohammed Nanono; Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige; Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Katagum; Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba; Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari.

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