The Federal government has disclosed that $40 million has been disbursed out of the $400 million World Bank social empowerment fund captured under the Youth Employment and Social Support Operations (YESSO).
Domiciled in the Finance Ministry, YESSO is a poverty-eradication initiative set up under the Federal Operation Coordinating Unit in the Office of the Vice President.
Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja, the Acting National Coordinator of the Scheme, Mrs Hajara Sami, explained that the YESSO was introduced in 2013 by the World Bank in collaboration with the Federal Government to support Federal and state governments’ efforts to improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable in the society.
She said the programme specifically targets those ravaged by insecurity challenges like the Boko Haram crisis that forced thousands of Nigerians to abandon their vocation and live in various Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps across the country.
She explained that before the disbursements could begin, a social register of the poor and vulnerable had to be collected and it took the office over three years to do so.
According to her, the YESSO office had since collated names of beneficiaries in 15 states: Bauchi, Cross River, Ekiti, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Osun, Oyo, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe, Borno, Sokoto, Yobe and Ondo States.
She added that YESSO had on social register of over 1.55 million individuals from 354,000 households.
“Gone are the days when managers sat in their offices to determine who benefited from social-emancipation programmes. It uses community-based capturing mechanisms.
“Also, a unified register of Internally Displaced Persons in six north-east states containing over 1.53 million individuals from 195,118 households has been established,” she stated.
Sami urged the remaining 21 states that were yet to join the programme to do so, as the World Bank grant was open to all states in the country.
She said that to encourage more states to participate in the YESSO programme, the World Bank had cut the required counterpart funding by state governments from 50/50 to 90/10.
“This means that for every one Naira the Nigerian government, whether state or Federal government invests into youth empowerment, the World Bank would provide nine Naira for it,” she noted.
Sami said announced that Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Kebbi and Abia states governments had indicated interest in being part of the programme in 2019.
She explained that the YESSO aims to reduce poverty and promote work opportunity through Public Workfare (PWF), Skills for job (S4J) and Targeted Grant Transfer programmes.
“The PWF involves cash transfers of N7,500 monthly, based on public workfare programme for youths with low level of education from poor and vulnerable households.
“The programme covers youths from 18 to 35 years, however in the North East, people up to the age of 50 years benefit from the programme, due to the uniqueness of the region.
“We also have the S4J, through which we transfer cash to youths with some level of education while providing them with economically-viable skills through entrepreneurship, life skills and sector specific skills training,” she said.
Sami also announced that in October 2018, YESSO introduced the Targeted Grant Transfer, which aims to incentivise the IDPs in the North East to leave the IDPs camps and resettle in safe communities.
She said that many families had indicated interest to be resettled and that once the project commenced in full, each family would be given a total of N200,000 in four tranches to relocate.
Giving a breakdown of the payment, she said N30,000 would be given as basic relocation fee, N20,000 for relocation, N100,000 for resettlement and finally N50,000 as stabilisation grants.
Sani stressed that all payments made to beneficiaries under the programme was done electronically to avoid duplicity.
The 300 million dollars YESSO programme is one of the World Bank-assisted programmes out to reduce poverty by creating immediate employment opportunities through public workfare, skill for job for the teeming youths and conditional cash transfers.
It was established in 2013 by the former administration and domiciled under the office of the Vice President.
Three years later in 2016, the Buhari Administration restructured the programme to also respond to the emerging situation in the North East.
The restructured operation with additional 100 million dollars was approved, bringing the total to 400 million dollars with effect from February, 2017.