By Olusola Adeoye
Since inception in 2013, about $155m has been disbursed by the Federal Government to about 16 states under the Youth Employment and Social Support Program.
The $155m when converted based on the official N305 to a dollar official exchange rate of the Central Bank of Nigeria amounts to about N47.27bn.
The National Coordinator, Youth Employment and Social Support Operations of the Federal Government, Mrs Hajara Sani said this in Abuja at a Social Protection Practitioners and Academics dialogue.
The theme of the dialogue is ”Social protection,- Effective strategy for lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.”
She said that the $155m was disbursed out of the $300m that was set aside by the World Bank for the program
Sani added that currently, about 500,000 people are benefiting from the programme.
YESSO is a program aimed at strengthening the state-level social safety net systems and reducing vulnerability of poor youth and women through increased access to work opportunities and promoting human capital development.
The programme was introduced in 2013 by the World Bank in collaboration with the Federal Government to improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable in the society.
She said that so far, the government is implementing the program to assist the poor and vulnerable in 16 states.
Some of the states are Bauchi, Cross River, Ekiti, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Osun, Oyo, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe, Borno, Sokoto, Yobe and Ondo.
She said, “We have over 500,000 people that benefited from YESSO and 80 per cent of them are still on the programme.
The programme is a package of $300m IDA of which the end date is fast approaching and we needed to disburse quickly and there was a restructuring but so far we have expended $155m.
“And 16 states are taking part. It has been a credit to the states and it has to be state-driven.
“States have to express interest and the states that have expressed interest and were able to meet the eligibility criteria are those we have on the ground.
“Many more states are now willing now that they’ve seen results and they want to come in but we can only admit them after June 2020.”
In her address of welcome, the Special Adviser to President Muhamadu Buhari on Social Investment Program, Mrs. Maryam Uwais said that time had come for the government to build a system that is inclusive, and sustainable.
Uwais noted that a robust social protection system would help the poor have access to essential services such as education, and health care.