Home » EndSARS: How Osinbajo Places Youth at the Center of Govt Policies & Programmes

EndSARS: How Osinbajo Places Youth at the Center of Govt Policies & Programmes

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By Silas Njemanze

One of Africa’s great leaders, Nelson Mandela, once said that what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived; it is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.

These words have had their essence expressed in Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s disposition towards issues affecting the Nigerian youth. At every opportunity, Prof. Osinbajo never fails to show his love and belief in the youth of this country. Little wonder, he prioritizes them in whatever policy or programme he is assigned to superintend, formulate or implement. Given the high level of commitment demonstrated towards the youth in the past 6 years, one would not be wrong, however, to say that no Vice President in Nigeria has ever placed more premium on the youth than Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

Before the EndSARS protest erupted in October 2020, the Vice President had been at the forefront of advocating for government policies and programmes that would harness and channel the enormous potentials that abound in the youth towards the nation’s political, economic and social development. Prof. Osinbajo does not only view the youth as an economic asset, he appreciates them as a primary factor for peace and stability without which no meaningful progress can be made and sustained.

VP Osinbajo has been quite instrumental to the evolution of most of the youth-friendly policies and programmes of the Buhari-led administration. These have addressed critical socio-economic gaps in the life of an average Nigerian youth, starting with the N-Power, which is a component of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), designed to stem the growing tide of poverty, unemployment and social insecurity in the country. According to available records, N-Power has provided temporary income-generating opportunities for 500,000 unemployed youths enrolled in batches A and B. Currently, 500,000 beneficiaries have been brought onboard for batch C stream I, while onboarding processes are being worked out for another 500,000 under batch C stream II.

Apart from the N-Power, there are other components of NSIP such as the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, Government Enterprise and Entrprenuership Programme (GEEP) which encapsulates Tradermoni, Marketmoni, Farmermoni and the Conditional Cash Transfer. With over 12 million direct beneficiaries so far, some analysts believe that the present administration’s National Social Investment Programme is the largest and most ambitious social safety net programme in Nigeria’s history.

Another initiative of the VP that must be mentioned is the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Clinic which came into being in 2017, to monitor, empower and support the MSME space. The Clinic is run by the Office of the Vice President in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, as well as 11 other federal government agencies. A total of 1,283,000 beneficiaries are targeted under various tracks such as payroll support, general MSME grants, formalization support, transport/artisan grant and guaranteed offtake.

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has also envisioned for the Nigerian youth a future that is technologically driven, and hence, they must be prepared and empowered with high-end skills to enable them compete favourably and survive in an increasingly digitalized global ecosystem. Moving this to reality, in May 2021, the VP announced the formalization of a partnership between the Federal Government of Nigeria and tech giant, Microsoft Corporation, to leverage Microsoft’s experience in the utilisation of technology as an enabler for the delivery of public and social good.

Under the partnership, 5 million Nigerians, especially the youth, would benefit from a digital upskilling programme anchored on connectivity, skilling and digital transformation. As part of the plan, locations in each of the six geopolitical zones in the country would enjoy active internet connection and cloud services, thus enhancing seamless integration of businesses. This was however confirmed by Microsoft President, Mr Brad Smith, who added that in the course of implementing the programme, which has a 3-year duration, 27,000 new jobs will be created.

It is however worthy to note that this project is a critical component of expanding broadband connectivity, which is by itself, a major pillar of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), devised in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recall that the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo chaired the committee that formulated the ESP. Under the Plan, 774,000 direct jobs were created in the Special Public Works Programme that had a minimum of 1,000 young Nigerians per local government. This was regarded as the largest public works programme ever undertaken by any administration in Nigeria. So far, the youth make up the largest chunk of beneficiaries of the various stimulus packages in the ESP.

During the EndSARS protest, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was very outspoken. He empathized and showed compassion with the youth. He took it upon himself to apologize to the youth, and through his efforts sweeping changes were made. There was overhaul in the security architecture, especially in the Nigeria Police Force, which led to the disbandment of the notorious Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) unit. Judicial panels of inquiries were equally set up to investigate allegations of human rights violations by members of the Force and other security agencies.

The recommendations of the panels are at various stages of implementation. Several victims have received monetary compensation awarded to them by the panels. Police personnel found wanting have also been prosecuted, and the process is still ongoing.

In some states such as Ebonyi, the panel recommended the payment of 189 million naira to victims of extra-judicial killings;
Bayelsa awarded 21 billion naira; 770,985,800 million naira was awarded by the panel in Imo; Rivers awarded 1billion naira. Ondo paid 755million naira; Abia 511million naira; Ogun 218million naira; Plateau 152million naira and Lagos 262million naira, while Ekiti is paying 20.8million naira.

It is quite important to note that the success recorded thus far in the quest for justice for victims of police brutality would not have come cheap without the commitment of the Vice President in following up on the activities of the panels across the country.

Therefore, in appreciating Prof. Osinbajo’s efforts at bettering the lots of youth in the country, one can only hope that those who are warming up for another protest to commemorate EndSARS anniversary, would heed his advice and shelve the protest, which according to the Osinbajo-led NEC, may likely be hijacked by criminal elements to foment trouble.

The youth are called upon to give the government time to unfold more laudable programmes and policies that have been carefully put together for their benefits. They should equally note that progress cannot be made in an atmosphere of hostility. They should adopt more peaceful and civilized approaches towards expressing their grievances. The Buhari administration has over time proven to be a government that listens and acts upon the yearnings of the citizens.

According to reports, the federal government has recently disclosed plans to create 21 million jobs and lift 35 million people out of poverty in its new National Development Plan (2021-2025). This is a laudable step that should be accorded the benefit of time to materialize.

Conclusively, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s sterling performance in the area of youth development is as a result of the trust and confidence President Muhammadu Buhari has reposed in him, without which nothing would have been achieved.

Silas Njemanzw is a Social Commentator. He wirte from Enugu, South East Nigeria.

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