The Central Bank of Nigeria on the 1st of October, 2020 announced the upcoming launch of the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund to the amount of 75 billion naira for young project leaders. The fund has been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Executive Council for the realization of entrepreneurship projects.
This fund is an initiative launched by the government to stimulate the national economy through access to finance for young people. It aims to unleash their potential by enabling them to create businesses that will in turn contribute to the country’s economic development.
NYIF aims to support 500,000 young people each year between 2020 and 2023. Each project will receive a grant ranging from 250,000 to 50 million naira. Disbursement will be made to microfinance structures and banks designated by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
25 billion naira will be needed each year to complete the 3-year program. An initial sum of N12.5 billion is planned for the launch of NYIF. In the long term, it will contribute to the development of the national economy by creating wealth and employment.
Financial freedom through Nigerian youth investment fund?
Nigeria’s high unemployment rate has thrown millions of skilled and unskilled, educated and uneducated Nigerian youths roaming into the streets in search of better livelihood.
According to recent economic data from NBS, Nigeria’s unemployment rate spiked to 27.1 percent in quarter two (Q2) of 2020 from 23.1 percent in quarter three (Q3) of 2018, with the number of persons in the economically active or working-age population between the ages of 15 to 64 years during the reference period of the survey, Q2 (2020) recorded a hundred and seventeen million.
Further breaking down the statistics it was observed that the majority of persons in that survey are youths; the future hope of Nigeria.
Following this, the Federal Executive Council’s (FEC) approval of the N75billion Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) is a timely intervention that will provide Nigerian youths with financial aids needed to fund or expand their businesses.
Though seemingly laudable, many development experts have expressed doubt over the government’s commitment to the implementation and attainment of the NYIF set goals.
With various of such schemes dying off few years after inception, individuals have been asking whether the NYIP would stand the test of time, and therefore put an end to the nation’s unemployment woes.
There are various examples of past youth empowerment schemes that are only being remembered with a nostalgic feeling. Some of such programs include:
- Nagropreneur programmes;
- Special Scholarship Scheme for Innovation and Development [PRESSID];
- the Youth Employment in Agriculture Program [YEAP];
- the Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS).
All the above-mentioned empowerment schemes were left to die prematurely partly because of corruption, mismanagement, and lack of continuity in government.
Corruption has wrapped the nation up like a spider’s cocoon. It attacks and overpowers all good intent of any administration. There are always bad eggs in every sector ever ready to derail government projects either by siphoning funds or handing in substandard projects.
Aside from corruption, lack of continuity has remained the worst nightmare that has hit the nation hard from all nooks and crannies. An administration comes up with a good policy or program, the successive government will come in, and won’t look back before throwing it into the trash can.
Speaking on the seeming benefits of the NYIF, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), noted that NYIF if adequately implemented will help alleviate the nation’s unemployment throes. “Nigeria’s unemployment rate is quite large and there is no single answer to it, but the critical thing is that the more Nigerian youths are empowered to be financially free and self-reliant, the better for them and the economy”.
What are the pros and cons of the NYIF?
Low-interest rate: The NYIF interest rate is not neck bending. It is such that beneficiaries will have little or no difficulty paying back.
Collateral free: Getting a loan from a bank requires that before an applicant can be considered, they should be able to give the bank a worthy asset to hold onto. This is not the case with the NYIF.
Numerous documentation required: Applicants are expected to file too many documents ranging from NIN to BVN and local government documents of identification. This can be stressful right?
Existing viable business required: Eligible applicants must be those with registered and thriving businesses; hence, youths without a registered business will miss out.
How can the government save NYIF from failing?
There is no problem without a solution. Having identified the fate which previous youth empowerment schemes suffered, the government along with other relevant agencies should join forces to ensure that the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund of the Buhari administration does not go the way of other schemes.
Tackling the issue of Corruption and Mismanagement
Corruption is unarguably a hydra-headed monster that seems to have mastered the art of coming alive even in the strangest places. The solution to the issue of corruption and mismanagement is however not far-fetched. The government should enact a law that makes all corrupt practice a capital offense. Such a move will serve as a deterrent to corrupt individuals who may want to embezzle public funds for their selfish use.
Tackling the problem of continuity
Government institutions at all levels, as well as civil society and communities, should feel entitled to own and sustain any development initiative.
Again, a law mandating successive governments not to abandon the programs of the outgoing administration will help put an end to the tradition of project abandonment which Nigeria is known for.
When these measures are put in place, the NYIF program will not only yield good fruits but will also outlive its years to the benefit of future generations to come.