Inaugurates Kolade’s panel
THOUGH there have been some changes in the oil sector that have resulted in an increase in the pump price of petrol, a template that could lead to a full-blown deregulation is yet to be implemented by the Federal Government.
This was the position of President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday as he inaugurated the governing board of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE) led by the former Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), Dr. Christopher Kolade.
He assured that his government would deliver on its promises and programmes aimed at transforming the nation.
Noting that the SURE programme was designed for total deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector, President Jonathan admitted that there was a high level of distrust by the public of the government fulfilling its promises, assuring that his administration would not fail Nigerians.
He said that even with the partial deregulation or an increase in pump price of petrol, his administration would still go ahead to reinvest the proceeds for the benefits of the people.
According to President Jonathan, “what we have now is an increase in pump price and not total deregulation, but we have to show that we are committed to delivering on our promises.”
The President expressed confidence that considering the pedigree of members of the board, they would deliver on their mandate.
He, therefore, appealed to Nigerians to co-operate with them as they move across the country to oversee the implementation of projects and programmes of SURE.
Speaking on behalf of the board, Kolade assured that they would serve with “integrity, probity, transparency and accountability.”
Jonathan had announced the establishment of the SURE on January 2 after his government announced the removal of petrol subsidy on December 31, 2011.
The board was charged with the mandate of ensuring effective and timely implementation of projects to be funded from subsidy savings. It was also charged with the responsibility of monitoring the fund in the petroleum subsidy savings account, and the programme specifically to improve the quality of life of the people.
Yesterday too, President Jonathan launched the public works and women and youth employment programme aimed at creating a total of 370,000 skilled and unskilled jobs in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) this year.
Though the details of the modalities for the recruitment of the beneficiaries have not been released, it is expected that the multi-sectoral project will be implemented as a joint venture between the Federal Government and the governments of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT. The states and the FCT are expected to recruit a total of 10,000 each.
Specifically, the Public Works and Women/Youth Employment (PW/WYE), a component of the SURE, is aimed at creating employment opportunities for women and youth in labour-intensive public works with the priority being tackling unemployment among the designated groups in Nigeria so as to improve their livelihoods.
The objectives of the project include the following:
• To create employment for up to 370,000 women and youths in 37 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory;
• to reduce the vulnerability of women and youths through exposure to income-generating opportunities offered by this project;
• to create good value systems and self-actualisation in women and youths through pre-works orientation sessions; and
• to enhance societal access to quality social and economic infrastructure and services across the federation.
Jonathan said out of the 370,000 beneficiaries, 50,000 of them would be skilled jobs while the remaining would be for the unskilled
They will be engaged in the areas of erosion control, waste disposal and sanitation, tree planting and afforestation, administration and maintenance of rural feeder roads, health and education institutions.
The skilled jobs generation, he said, would involve partnership with the private sector and specific government establishments for internship for the unemployed and under-employed youths.
The President noted that government recognised that funding was a major impediment to employment creation and had therefore set aside some portion of the partial subsidy removal proceeds to support employment generation nationwide.
According to Jonathan, “this administration views the prevailing high rate of unemployment among our youths with great concern, especially with the rising state of youth militancy, violent crimes and other social vices inimical to the political and economic stability of the nation. The burden of frontally addressing and reversing the trend should involve every segment of our society. The SURE programme seeks to target the largest population of unskilled, unemployed and under-employed poor women and youths as well as other vulnerable groups in our society by presenting them with ample opportunities in the public works programmes and internships in firms for the skilled and educated.”
Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said at the event held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, that “those who have graduated from tertiary institutions will be interning in companies. If those companies keep them, the Federal Government expects to give them a stipend as they are working. And if they do well and those companies employ them, then we will work with the companies for some incentives. The whole idea is to give employment to our skilled youths. The President handed over some wheelbarrows for the public works and therefore we expect that some skilled youths will also have a part in it. In fact, for a large majority of the jobs, we shall be working through the Ministry of Labour in each state. We will be having small units in the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) that will liaise with the state governments.”
Okonjo-Iweala stated that Anambra State was one of the first states where the project would kick off, adding that “we are working state by state to develop the database of those who are not employed. We are working closely with the states and those that don’t have a database, we will work with them to make sure we get proper names of those who do not have jobs to key into this programme. It is 370,000 jobs to be created at the end of this year.”