By Franca Ofili
Abuja, Nov.1, 2020 The Federal Government on Sunday rewarded 12 youths who won the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development 60-day App Challenge.
Naija247news reports that 10 of the winners received one million naira each, while five got #500, 000 each.
The disbursement held on Sunday during an event to celebrate the national Youth Day observed on November 1.
Naija247news reports that the Day which was being marked nationally for the first time, coincided with the African Youth Day celebration.
The event has as its theme: ”Invest in the Youth, Secure Our Future”.
President Muhammadu Buhari used the occasion to appeal to the youth to end the protests and participate in meaningful discussions with government aimed at comprehensive reforms to end all forms of police brutality against Nigerians.
Buhari, represented by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Mohammad Bello said that the protests had led to disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
According to him, the demands of the youth have been heard by the Federal Government.
Buhari said that the Federal Government ‘‘now wants to hear concrete and practical ideas,’’ from the youth, while acknowledging their constitutional rights to peaceful protests.
”You must realise that protests cannot last indefinitely. My government will not lift a hand to stop or suppress you.
”However, the fact of the matter is that other forces and actors will seek to take over your protests that they may redirect them in ways you did not intend and perhaps do not agree with.
”Every successful protests worldwide has understood that there comes a time when activities must move from the streets to the negotiation table.
“That time for you has come. Do not be afraid of this reality. You should welcome it,” he said.
According to him, it is important that we all strive to use this moment constructively. Too many people have already sacrificed too dearly. It is our duty to use this fateful situation to move ourselves to a more just and caring society.
”As youths, you have a nation and a future to build. My government will always be your faithful partner in this essential and patriotic endeavour,” Buhari said.
“The president, however, expressed concern for the use of force against innocent, law-abiding persons, particularly young people.
”No one who is obeying the law, whether they are in line waiting for a taxi or in a peaceful protest line, should be harassed or brutalised by law enforcement agencies.
”It is because of my abiding belief in the people’s constitutional rights that we moved with dispatch to abolish SARS.
“We are also considering other reforms that will enhance the quality of law enforcement and improve the relationship between the police and public which is a pre-requisite in a just society.
”To allow protests is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and belief in democracy, and faith in the innate goodness of our people.
”This also shows confidence in the ability of our government to work with the people toward a reasonable and practical resolution to any challenge,” he said.
Describing Nigerian youths as agents for social change, economic growth and sustainable development, Buhari said his administration had established no fewer than 25 initiatives aimed at empowering youths across the country.
The president noted that these noble initiatives, ongoing in the last five years, were aimed at placing Nigerian youths on the path of career development, entrepreneurship, skills development and direct employment.
”Today, we will unveil the official logo of the N75 billion Nigeria Youth Investment Fund for the period of 2020 – 2023.
”This novel fund is dedicated to investing in the innovative ideas, skills and talents of the youth and to provide our youth with a special window to access much needed financing, business management skills and other inputs critical for sustainable enterprise,” he said.
Buhari announced that more than one million applications had already been received since the Youth Investment Fund Portal became functional on October, 12.
He listed other youth-based initiatives consistent with his administration’s policy of positioning the youth for strategic leadership in different fields of endeavour.
They include birth of the Nigerian Youth Policy in 2019, the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund in July 2020, Young Farmers Initiative, and Digital Skills.
He listed others to be Entrepreneurship, Employability and Leadership/Mentoring (DEEL) programme, which recently received an approval of N4 billion for implementation, and the Not Too Young to Run Act.”
Other initiatives, he said were the Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme (P-YES) , the N-Power, SI and Disaster Management, the Youth Entrepreneurship Support Programme , Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS) and the Youth Enterprise with Innovation In Nigeria (YouWIN).
The president also mentioned the 20 million dollars Technology Fund for Young Innovators as some of the major initiatives empowering youths across the country.
Restating his call for national unity, Buhari said that the youth were better positioned to drive the indivisibility of Nigeria and collectively overcome whatever challenges bedevilling the nation.
”On this special occasion, we affirm our faith and confidence in the indivisible entity called Nigeria and its future.
”We face many challenges but in you, this nation has the collective ability and drive to overcome that which confronts us,’’ he said.