By Salawudeen Olawale
The Presidency on Sunday revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari has requested the National Assembly to approve the sum N500billion for Social Investment Programmes (SIP) under the 2017 budget.
Out of this, N100billion has been allocated to the Family Homes Fund.
He is also asking for N157.7billion for the administration’s N-Power programme to enable it to hire 350,000 additional unemployed graduates under the Social Investment Programmes (SIP).
According to a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to the acting President, Laolu Akande, in Abuja on Sunday, President Buhari made the requests in the 2017 budget estimates now before that legislature.
The statement said beyond hiring the 350,000 for the volunteer corps, another 50,000 non-graduates youths would be engaged as artisans and in other creative ventures.
It said out of the N157.7billion, the sum of N4.5billion has been earmarked for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme to support young Nigerians in building skills in those disciplines.
The statement observed that there was great public enthusiasm on the programmes, noting that the SIP budget proposals for 2017 were currently being discussed this week at the National Assembly.
The statement added: “While we were able to engage 200,000 unemployed graduates last year, we will do 350,000 more this year.”
According to the statement some of the teething problems suffered under the programes were “giving way to lessons that would smoothen implementation under the 2017 budget.”
It further said that under the 2017 budget proposals, about N75billion has been allocated for the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme, which will provide one hot meal a day to five million primary school pupils.
“This would certainly be an improvement on how far the feeding programme has been implemented so far under the 2016 budget which has so far attained the feeding of about one million pupils,” the statement added.
It also stated that under the 2017 budget a sum of N112.2billion has been allocated for the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) aimed at providing interest-free loans to up to 1.2million market men and women, traders, artisans, youths and farmers.
It’s said the GEEP beneficiaries will receive between N10, 000 and N100, 000 loans with a one-time five per cent administrative fee.
Already under the 2016 budget, over 20,000 Nigerians in about 14 states and counting, have been benefiting from GEEP.
The statement added: “Similarly, the Conditional Cash Transfer which has kicked off in 9 states would be further expanded under the 2016 budget and will reach more states and much more Nigerians.
“The plan in 2016 budget targets one million poorest and vulnerable Nigerians. And in the 2017 budget an additional N54.98B has been allocated for the continuation of the N5000 monthly social safety net payments to the poorest Nigerians.
“2017 implementation of the SIP is going to be far more impactful than what we were able to do under the 2016 budget, so Nigerians should expect more this year, the resolve of the Buhari presidency is firm that more lives must be touched positively under this programmes which Nigerians have come to appreciate,” he added.