Govt plans $500m investment in technology for youths

To encourage creativity among youths, the Federal Government, in partnership with some international organisations, is mobilising $500 million for investment in technology and creativity.

This was made known yesterday by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN). It was at  the 2021 National Gold Award Presentation, organised by the International Award for Young People (IAYP) at the State House in Abuja.

The event is an initiative of the IAYP, the Nigerian version of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the IAYP is Mr. Olawale Edun.

Describing the youth as Nigeria’s most valued assets, Osinbajo said the Federal Government valued their contributions to national development, adding that the Muhammadu Buhari administration is doing everything to encourage their creativity.

Osinbajo said the African Development Bank (AfDB), which is at the fore-front of raising the technology and creativity development fund, had already pooled about $170 million, adding that another initiative of the administration, the Nigeria Jubilee Fellowship Programme, will provide internship opportunity for 20,000 youths yearly for five years to hone their professionalism.

He said: “As part of the requirements for achieving the gold award, they undertook shared purposeful experiences with people who are not their usual companions in a residential setting. They undertook their residential projects in various locations, including engaging in wildlife conservation at the National Children’s Park here in Abuja. Athletics trainings, I’m told, at sports camps, leadership training at various youth, events, volunteering at various orphanages and hospitals.

“A recipient, Faith Iwuh, wins gold for her residential project, volunteered at the Renaissance Hospital in Enugu State, and I think we’ve heard about that, having observed that the hospital was experiencing a shortage of staff, she resided in the hospital for a month, volunteering as a health worker, and support staff to the hospital.

“Meeting you all today is a reminder of the many achievements of young people across Nigeria. Daily, we have Nigerians in our armed forces, leaving behind family and friends to serve our country in various internal security operations. We have seen how young Nigerians rallied in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and designed various technology solutions to support the government.

“We’ve seen young Nigerians break new ground and earn global acclaim in innovation, in technology, in sports and the arts and entertainment. So, it’s clear to us that our young people are our most valuable assets and the Federal Government believes that they must be encouraged and supported in every way, which is why we’re currently raising about $500 million to support technology and creativity.

“The project is led by the African Development Bank, which has already committed $170 million to the enterprise and this will be supported by the Federal Government, Islamic Development Bank and the French Development Agency.

“Last year, Mr. President launched the Nigeria Jubilee Fellowship Programme. This is a programme supported by the UNDP and the European Union and private sector and many people in the private sector. It will run for five years and it will give well paid work experience opportunities to 20,000 young Nigerians every year in select private sector and public sector organisations.

“The idea is that these interns will gain relevant career and life skills that will enable them to transition seamlessly into the professional, business or public sector, while also earning good pay during the period of their internship. I hope that many of you that, our gold award winners, will participate in that program and will be a part of that program and experience all of the benefits of the program”, he said.

IAYP Board of Trustee Chairman Edun, explained the process of participating in the programme, which he said, had produced 44 young Nigerians who have reached the apex of a long race to the peak.

The said the programme had produced more than million young participants globally, mentored through the process by more than 200,000 adults

“What we have just witnessed with the in the presence of His Excellency, the vice president of the Federal Republic, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, is the Gold Award Ceremony, where the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award was conferred on 44 youngsters who have achieved that level in this programme, which is of full curricular, non-formal, out of the classroom education. It’s a worldwide platform and brand and it just empowers youngsters.

“Alongside their formal education, it gives them the skills and confidence to go out into the world and to increase their employability, their chances of success in the world. So, it is very gratifying and very encouraging for the youngsters that no less a personality than His Excellency, the Vice President, was there to recognize their achievements and confer upon them the award itself.

“The award itself was founded by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, who as we all know, was the husband of the Queen of England and since then, over a million youngsters worldwide have participated in the event. In addition to the youngsters, there are the adults. In order to put young people through this program, and not only ensure that they benefit from it, but they have the opportunity to have fun, to have adventure and to enjoy themselves as young people, you need adults and about 200,000 adults have mentored them through this award.

“It’s a combination of the whole society, the young people, but also the adults, the financial supporters, for those who can’t afford for their parents to pay for them to go through the world, we have corporate sponsors, you have individual Nigerians and people generally supporting the ability of young people to go through this unique program”, he explained.

Asked if there is any mechanism of monitoring the progress of participants, Edun added: “They are mentored through it and they have to meet standards. Before you can get to gold, you have met the highest of standards. So yes, the whole initiative has clear standards and objective measurements that are set and it’s only those that achieved that high standard that achieve the gold award and they are measured and benchmarked, not just in Nigeria, but internationally”, he said.

The event, which drew attendance from graduands, their parents and teachers, former participants and others, was graced by British Deputy High Commissioner, Jill Atkinson.

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