The federal government recently obtained a concessional facility of $30 million from the World Bank to support the implementation of Youth Employment and Social Support Operations (YESSO). DAVID AGBA writes
The issue of youth unemployment has remained a recurring decimal in most countries of the world and Nigeria cannot be an exception. But, be that as it may, the federal government still has a huge challenge in its hands to ensure that its teaming youth population are not left to roam the streets or become loafers.
This precarious situation has over the years engendered the unprecedented rise in crime rate and youth restiveness across the country.
In its efforts to reduce the wave of these social problems and in the process give Nigerians respite, the government has continually churn one programme after another, even though no significant success has so far been recorded.
The YESSO project is meant to provide increased opportunity for youth employment and social service delivery and harmonise the implementation of social protection interventions in the country.
Of importance also is the fact that it is to increase access of poor citizens to youth employment opportunities and strengthened safety net systems in participating states.
The support operation was designed in close partnership between the federal government and 20 states which are: Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe Imo, Kaduna, Katsina Kano, Kwara, Niger, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Oyo and Yobe.
All states are eligible to participate upon fulfilment of the eligibility criteria. However, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers are already participating in the implementation of similar World Bank intervention meaning they cannot benefit.
A strengthened safety net system will have a common targeting system and a unified registry of potential beneficiaries as major elements to facilitate basic services for poor households. The result indicators for achieving this objective are; youths receiving cash payment in return for working in public works programme in each participating states.
States using the unified registry for selecting eligible beneficiaries for various intervention, trained youths from selected benefiting households with jobs will have increased earning one year after completion of skills for job intervention and this will be disaggregated by gender and employment status, such as self-employed, informal sector or formal sector.
Individuals from beneficiary poor households, that is those in the lowest quintiles selected under the unified registry of the beneficiaries receiving cash payments for service rendered; School age children from beneficiary households who attend school for at least 80% of the school year during participation in the intervention programme and women from benefiting households who are health facilities for routine health checks-ante-natal, immunisation, growth monitoring during participation in the intervention programme.
According to the Finance Ministry, the support operation is in line with the World Bank and Nigeria’s commitment to poverty reduction by permitting the poor people of Nigeria to access increased opportunity for youth employment and social delivery as many unemployed youths are uneducated and unskilled.
Child and maternal mortality rates, as well as malnutrition are still high and need to be addressed, while social protection programmes in Nigeria at the federal and state level have been implemented by different agencies; each of these agencies are said to operate in isolation of others without central coordinating units at the different governmental levels. This has been identified as being partly responsible for the low impact of such programmes.
The ministry said that YESSO is supporting strengthening of already existing institutions created to tackle poverty alleviation and to address the lack of effective coordination on the issue of common targeting and unified registry for beneficiaries creating avenue for possibility of double dip by the intended beneficiaries.
Also, for a state to participate in YESSO they must according to the conditions have: Existing interventions in skills development, public works with at least 2012/2013 budget utilisation and evidence of implementation and progress.
A functional project financial management unit in the state; adopted and domesticated the generic operations manual and signed subsidiary credit agreement with the Federal Ministry of Finance.
YESSO is divided into components focusing on core expected deliverables of the intervention. One of them is to assist the establishment of an effective social safety net coordination at the federal level for partnership with states and local governments as well as other partners and at the state level for harmonising, monitoring and evaluation of the assistance programme.