The Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Wednesday, said that 22,000 Nigerian graduates benefited from the Federal Government’s Graduate Internship Programme.
In a statement issued in Abuja by her Special Assistant, Paul Nwabuikwu, the minister said the programme was meant to increase the employability of the graduates by enhancing their skills.
“The scheme targets up to 50,000 unemployed graduates in the 36 states of the federation and FCT. No fewer than 22,000 graduates have so far been placed on the programme,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
She noted that the current administration has tried to ensure that jobs were created to unemployed youths nationwide, and that was why it ensured an average of about 1.4 million jobs were being provided per year, as it drives quality growth in key sectors of the economy.
The sectors highlighted by the minister include agriculture, financial services, and the creative Industries such as the Nollywood.
Further in the statement, the minister noted that the Community Services Scheme under SURE-P was developed to empower young unskilled Nigerians, women and people with disabilities.
“No fewer than 120,000 Nigerians, mostly young workers, have been engaged under the programme across the country,” said Okonjo-Iweala.
She also reminded Nigerians that the government borrowed in 2010 to pay an unprecedented 53.7 percent wage increase to all categories of federal government employees as demanded by labour.
“The total wage bill rose from N857 billion in 2009 to about N1.4 trillion in 2010 and as a result, domestic borrowing increased from N200 billion in 2007 to about N1.1 trillion in 2010 to meet the wage payments. However, the current administration had remained prudent with regards to debt and borrowing.
According to her, the Economic Management Team not only looked at debt to GDP ratio, where Nigeria had one of the lowest in the world at 12.51 percent, but also looked at debt service to revenues.
“That is why in spite of the rebasing and a larger GDP, the administration has taken a prudent approach to borrowing.
“The prudent approach helped to drive down domestic borrowing from N1.1 trillion in 2010 to N642 billion in 2014.
“In fact for the first time in our nation’s borrowing history, we managed to retire N75 billion worth of domestic bonds in 2013,” she said.
The minister therefore assured Nigerians that the Federal Government would continue to work hard to ensure inclusive economic growth and development.
She also urged the citizenry to support all the efforts of the Federal Government, adding that it was working in the interest of the common man.