Gombe State Government has earmarked N2 billion to empower youths and women across the state, the Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Muhammad Magaji, has said.
Magaji, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Thursday in Gombe, said the fund was to help cushion the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable citizens of the state.
According to him, the state government is aware of the impact of the pandemic on citizens and had allocated 13 per cent of the revised budget as COVID-19 response.
He said that COVID-19 had created a lot of challenges for everyone across the world, and as a responsible government; “we have come up with initiatives to mitigate this effect on our people.’’
The commissioner said that Gov. Inuwa Yahaya, was committed to the well being of the people and reduction of poverty among vulnerable citizens, hence the empowerment initiative for youth and women. “ Because of the effects of COVID-19 on businesses, we have to find a way of cushioning the impact on the good people of the state, in line with the priority of this administration.
“The reason we allocated N1 billion each for youth development and women empowerment is due to the fact that this groups form a large population of vulnerable persons and dependents,” Magaji told NAN.
The commissioner said the N1 billion for youths would form part of funding for their businesses after vocational training for self-reliance. He said that the youth would be trained on fish farming, poultry, furniture making, building, plumbing, Information Technology and carpentry.
He said that the plan of the state government was to make crime unattractive to youths, bearing in mind the impact of the pandemic and the tendency of it leading to a surge in criminal activities. “So the state government is not going to just dole out money, but will build capacity to ensure that the youths gain the required skills to be able to fend for themselves and jettison crimes.
“For the women, the government plans to assist them pick up their small-scale businesses that had been halted by the pandemic. So the women will be trained while small-scale businesses would be supported.”
Magaji said the overall idea behind the initiative was to resuscitate the economy of the state, following the impact of COVID-19, through small and medium enterprises, which he described as the “backbone of major developed economies.’’ “The positive impact of the informal sector in Nigeria is huge; we want to encourage and expand the sector in the state to contribute to the economy in the long time, while fetching internally generated revenue.’’
He stated that apart from the N2 billion, the state government had provided N500 million for the micro and small-scale businesses to quicken their recovery.
He assured that in spite the reduction in the internally generated revenue, the N2 billion empowerment for youth and women would be executed to at least 80 per cent of the budgeted amount. On the commencement of the programme, Magaji said the modalities were already being worked out by the relevant ministries; and as soon as they concluded and presented same to the council for approval, the programme would commence.
The commissioner called on all stakeholders in the state to assist the Yahaya-led administration through empowerment programmes, adding that the tasks should not be left to the government alone. (NAN)