The Federal Government has approved a total of N110 billion to be released for the operation of the newly restructured Youth Development Fund and the investment in agricultural Small and Medium Enterprises.

While N25bn each was appropriated in the 2023 supplementary and 2024 budgets, another N60bn would come from the Central Bank of Nigeria, said the Minister of Youth Development, Jamila Ibrahim, after Monday’s Federal Executive Council meeting at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

Ibrahim explained that although the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund was established in 2020, the current administration commissioned a technical committee to review and restructure it with the aim of institutionalising it through a legal framework, which will lead to the establishment of the Nigerian Youth Fund.

“We have secured council’s approval for the immediate release of N25bn from the 2023 supplementary Appropriation Act and an additional 25bn from the 2024 Appropriation Act for the Youth Development Fund appropriation in the budget.

“We also received an additional approval from council for a N60bn release from the Central Bank of Nigeria through the agric investment of a small medium enterprises scheme.

“This will go a long way to support young businesses and bring a lot of succour to young persons, to strengthen and scale young businesses,” said Ibrahim.

An offshoot of revamped Youth Investment Fund, the Minister said, is the establishment of clusters focused on commodities of comparative advantage across the six geopolitical zones.

She explains, “The spread would be across the Six geopolitical zones in the first phase, and we are already in talks with some state governments. We’re in touch with the Katsina state government, where the clusters will be around the cotton value chain. The cotton cluster has a potential to stimulate the textile garment and fashion industry and employ about 50,000 persons through direct and indirect engagements.

“We are also in talks with the government of Ebonyi State to strengthen the rice-producing communities by empowering the young people and bringing them in clusters to increase rice production and of course, managing the waste that comes from rice production,

“In states like Niger, we’ve gotten a commitment of over 10,000 hectares of land to commence our cluster formation and then the benefits of clusters actually would go a long way to ensure that we leverage on economics of scale, where we have young people leveraging or sharing rather equipment and infrastructure.”

Ibrahim also revealed that the council has granted approval for the institutionalisation of a 30 percent youth quota in all government appointments and an equitable young women representation inclusive of the 30 per cent.

She said this would address the “Long-standing marginalisation and exclusion of young people in decision making, and will also encourage young people to participate in decision-making processes and in civic engagements. This will in turn lead to young people contributing tremendously to national development agenda.”

Meanwhile, the council approved the report of a basic healthcare provision for a sector-wide approach.

This sector-wide approach will “eliminate the defragmentation” between basic health care centres provision fund and its development partners, said the Minister of State for Health, Mr. Tunji Alausa.

The basic healthcare care provision fund has three gateways—the primary care gateway, the National Health Insurance gateway, and the emergency services gateway.

Alausa said the sector-wide approach is to “align what our development partners are spending which are basic healthcare provision fund so that we can begin to eliminate the defragmentation that we have in the system where there is no coordination with basic healthcare provision fund and our development partners.

“What we’ve done now is to align and coordinate so that more resources will be directed to our primary health care centres where we’ll have more money to increase the immunisation to children.”

He said the new approach would help direct more money to maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health, and nutrition for children to be better equipped with better brain development.

More funds will also flow to efforts to fight tuberculosis, HIV & AIDS and improve the welfare of frontline workers, he explained.

“So that memo was brought in for final approval by the Federal Executive Council today, which was approved. But we’re moving through speed to implementing our sector-wide approach,” he affirmed.

Alausa also announced the purchase of state-of-the-art CT Scanners for the Federal Teaching Hospital Gombe, saying, “More of these will be coming to FEC.”