Gbenga Adeniji and Motunrayo Joel

Gbenga Adeniji and Motunrayo Joel write about the programmes initiated by the outgoing Goodluck Jonathan administration which may not continue after May 29

It is common for every administration in Nigeria to initiate programmes designed to distinguish it from the one before it. This is also what the outgoing administration of Goodluck Jonathan did in some sectors of the economy. One however wonders if these schemes will survive after May 29 as a new administration takes over.Cassava-bread

The National Clean Cooking Scheme is part of programmes. A whopping N9.2bn was approved by the Federal Executive Council in 2014 for the purchase of clean stoves and wonder bags totaling the amount.

Under the scheme, the council also awarded a contract of N60.9bn to an indigenous firm, KaKatar CE Limited, for the provision of engineering infrastructure for Kyami District, Zone C, Abuja.

The Federal Government stated that the N9.2bn inclusive of Value Added Tax was approved for the procurement of 750,000 units of clean cook stove and 18,000 wonder bags.

The stoves planned to be assembled locally were believed to be capable of providing jobs to Nigerians.

The Jonathan government described the National Clean Cooking Scheme as an aggressive drive to engender clean cooking culture among the poor rural women, to reduce and possibly eliminate cooking with solid fossil believed to be detrimental to health. The scheme is expected to provide 20 million clean stoves over a five-year period at the rate of four million stoves yearly which will be distributed without charge.’’

Not many Nigerians can boast of a job through this scheme.

There is also the Agric e-wallet Scheme through which farmers the agric minister said farmer ‘‘received subsidised seeds and fertiliser vouchers on their mobile phones – or electronic or e-wallets- which they use just like cash to buy inputs directly from the agro-dealers.’’

With the scheme, the government said it had ended four decades of corruption in the fertiliser sector within 90 days.

Initiators of the scheme said Nigeria was the first country in Africa to launch an electronic wallet system for the delivery of subsidised inputs to farmers. The government noted that within one year, the e-wallet reached a total of 1.7 million farmers.

The Dry Season Farm Support Programme was among the programmes launched with fanfare in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in January last year. The President said that his government was committed to diversifying the economy from sole reliance on hydrocarbon resource.

Jonathan said, ‘‘Our drive is to unlock the huge agricultural potential in our country, so as to assure food security and create wealth for our people. As a nation, we must feed ourselves. As part of our reforms in this sector, we have also ended the corruption of four decades in the fertiliser sector.’’

The Federal Government promised to make available N14bn to support the 2014 dry season farming.

The Employment in Agriculture Programme called YEAP is designed to create rural employment for young men and women ‘along area-based priority agricultural value chains enabling them to earn decent livelihoods.’

The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, said the programme was initiated to ‘‘address the high rates of unemployment among Nigeria’s youths and secure the success of the current administration in addressing the issue, it is crucial that we embark on massive efforts to create jobs for this critical segment of our population.”

The programme, in its take-off stage, received about N37bn with plans to mobilise a broad partnership with international development partners, including IFAD, FAO, the World Bank, USAID, UNIDO and others to realise objectives of the rural youth employment scheme. The programme is to be implemented over a five-year period with two states from each of the six geo-political zones joining in each respective year.

Considering the many schemes attached to the agricultural sector, many are waiting to see if this will also survive.

The Growth Enhancement Support Scheme is another programme in the agricultural sector; five million farmers are targeted yearly for four years. Each of them will receive GESS via their mobile phones totaling 20 million at the end of four years.

Specifically, the scheme aims to provide support directly to farmers to allow them purchase farming tools at affordable rates, increase output of farmers by allowing them access to fertilisers across the country and change the distribution of fertilisers directly to farmers by regulating and encouraging private sector participation in the fertiliser value chain.

According to the president, the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria, otherwise called YouWiN, inaugurated in October 2011 was created to provide jobs for 80,000 to 110,000 unemployed Nigerian youths.

By 2014, at the inauguration of the fourth edition, the President said over 22,000 jobs had been created alongside other indirect employments through the first phase of the YouWin intervention, adding that the fourth phase is expected to create additional 44,000 jobs. This year, the programme should be going to its fifth edition. But there are mixed views as to whether or not the incoming administration would allow the programme to continue.

A Global Youth Ambassador, Joy Tiku, described the programme as a good initiative. “I wish the incoming administration will continue with a new sustainable strategic approach to harness and empower more young people to be self-reliant.”

The Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme popularly known as Sure-P was inaugurated by the outgoing administration in February 2012. It has two major sub-divisions namely: the Community Service Scheme and the Graduate Internship Scheme.

The Community Service Scheme, which engages youths in intensive work such as construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure, according to Federal Government reports, has employed over 120,000 people around the country. The Graduate Internship Scheme has matched about 4,000 graduates to competent firms to enhance skills development towards employability.

A business consultant, Mrs. Nwobi Obiageli, lauded the GIS aspect of Sure-P, adding that it had given fresh graduates the opportunity to acquire more experience and skills.

However, she called on the Federal Government to monitor organisations under the scheme using it as a medium to exploit.

The Integrated Youth Economic Empowerment Programme was inaugurated in May 2014.

The programme promised to train about 22, 000 youths across 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory. Numerous other promises were made but some youths think the programme wasn’t properly implemented. A youth leader, Peace Edem said, “It is a good one, but I feel it was designed for Lagos and Abuja. If it must continue during Muhammadu Buhari’s regime, there must be a total overhaul of the system.”

Cassava Bread is another scheme initiated to launch the nation’s cassava revolution. President Jonathan launched cassava bread with 20 per cent high quality cassava flour as a Nigerian brand in July 2012. He also made a promise that he would continue to consume the brand until he leaves office. Besides, he pumped N10bn into the production of cassava bread.

The Group Managing Director, Elephant Group, Africa, Mr. Tunji Owoeye, said the cassava bread idea had given Nigeria the opportunity to reduce pressure on foreign exchange for wheat.

He said, “I believe this policy shouldn’t be dropped the incoming administration. The flour sector should also be encouraged explore more local mater ials.”

One of the major programmes is the Amnesty programme initiated by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua in July 2009 when hostilities by militants in the Niger-Delta region became uncontrollable. It was continued by the outgoing regime. Many are of the view that the amnesty deal has been able to ensure relative peace in the region. Through the programme, militants surrender their weapons, receive vocational training and a monthly allowance. They are also rehabilitated before reintegrated into the society.

Some beneficiaries of the scheme have been urging the incoming administration not to scrap it.

Commenting on the programmes, an environmental activist, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, said ‘‘I see a positive approach especially with the way the President-elect endorsed the minister of agriculture for the job of the president of the African Development Bank. By doing that for an individual, I think he will not hesitate to do more in retaining viable schemes.’’

He noted that there were some programmes, especially in the agric sector, which the outgoing administration got right.

Majekodunmi added, ‘‘Like the fertiliser distribution and other schemes to support the industry. We have never witnessed the level of development we saw in the agric sector in the last years. One area which the outgoing administration failed to make impact is in the environment. It could not press for the passing of the Climate Change Bill which will establish the Climate Change Commission.’’

He described the development as a big indictment on the outgoing government, saying ‘‘it is very disappointing. We need the environment for water, oxygen and food, yet we care less about it. We cannot be farming in the middle of the desert.’’

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