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CACOVID commits N100bn to equip police, build 44 stations

…to empower 4m youths with N150bn jobs
Emefiele: Pandemic response has gulped N43.3bn
Dangote: We’ll empower youths with skills

The Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) has pledged to spend over N100 billion for the procurement of equipment and gadgets for the Nigerian Police over the next two years as part of its contribution to “fully modernize” the law enforcement agency.

Co-Chair, CACOVID and Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who disclosed this while giving account of the activities of the group at a press conference in Lagos yesterday, also announced that CACOVID’s response to helping the country contain the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had, so far, seen it incurring an expenditure of N43.3 billion on the acquisition of medical equipment and supplies, as well as the purchase of food palliatives for vulnerable Nigerians.

The CBN Governor, who briefed journalists alongside the President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Chairman, United Bank for Africa Plc., Mr. Tony Elumelu and Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc., Mr. Herbert Wigwe, also disclosed plans by the group to empower four million youths with a N150 billion employment programme.

Emefiele, who noted that many private and public assets, including business houses, shopping malls, banks and police stations were vandalized by hoodlums in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests that took place in several parts of the country in October, said that apart from committing to providing over N100 billion for the procurement of equipment for the Nigeria Police over the next two years, CACOVID will also rehabilitate all the 44 police stations that were damaged and destroyed nationwide during the crisis. According to him, “The provision of security which is essential to the conduct of business activities has been hampered due to the damage of 44 police stations across the country.

If left unattended, this situation could undermine confidence in our economy and derail the efforts of the government in enabling faster recovery of the Nigerian economy, following the impact of COVID-19.”

He also disclosed that banks and financial institutions would be required to extend relief through concessionary loans to businesses and firms that suffered losses during the #EndSARS crisis to enable them restock their stores and continue to conduct their business activities.

The CBN Governor, who pointed out that unemployment among the youth was a major factor behind the #EndSARS protests, said that in order to address the problem, CACOVID will establish a development programme that will provide technical and vocational education to over four million Nigerian youths over the next five years.

He said: “CACOVID has committed to create a high impact youth development programme that will provide technical and vocational education to over four million Nigerian youths over the next five years. Students will be trained on craftwork, plumbing, masonry, carpentry, and other artisanal related skills for which sufficient demand exist in Nigeria.

“Over N150 billion is expected to be deployed towards the set up and implementation of the youth development programme, which will be available at select training centres across the country.”

He explained that on conclusion of the programme, the students will be certified by the appropriate standards board and will be eligible to receive loans to support their entrepreneurial pursuits.

“Over N25 billion will be domiciled in a fund to support these entrepreneurial pursuits, which would also include acquisition of related equipment to conduct business activities. The ultimate objective is to provide young Nigerians with employable skills that will enable them to live a gainful life. We believe this initiative can lead to the creation of over four million jobs over the next five years,” the CBN Governor said.

In addition, Emefiele disclosed that for out-ofschool graduates that possess certain entrepreneurial skills, CACOVID will be working with Bankers’ Committee to complete the creative centre at National Arts Theatre area of Lagos in four select areas namely; ICT and software design/ development, Fashion, Music and Movies.

This project, he said, is expected to cost the Bankers’ Committee over N40 billion. Meanwhile, rendering the accounts of CACOVID, the CBN Governor said the group received N39.6 billion as donation from over 200 members of the private sector and spent N43.272 billion on the acquisition of, not only medical equipment and supplies, but also on food palliatives for vulnerable Nigerians.

He said the funds raised by CACOVID was used to support three key priorities: Medical facilities and equipment, food relief programmes and communication plans on the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, he said that the private sector-led coalition spent N28.7 billion on food relief as palliatives to 1.7 million households, translating to eight million Nigerians; N4.2 billion went into building isolation centres and N9.02 billion was spent on procuring medical equipment such as PCR test kits for suspected cases of COVID- 19 along with other required medical items.

In his remarks, Dangote said that the proposed youth development programme was the coalition’s way of helping to tackle unemployment in the country. He said: “As soon as we kick-start the training for our Nigerian youths, which is free, then they have a guarantee that there will be jobs for them. We have about 30,000 workers at our refinery which are looking at increasing it to 50,000 workers.

Twenty-five to 28 per cent will be foreigners, but the rest will be Nigerians in which they will go through training and by the time we are finished with it, bringing in foreign workers will substantially reduce in Nigeria and we will have skilled Nigerians.

“So what we are doing is create skilled manpower who can also be employed outside Nigeria for mega or mini projects like ours here. We will not be giving the N100 billion in cash. With the N100 billion, we are looking at importing vehicles and ammunition that were destroyed during the protest. We can never get investors to come to an environment that is not conducive for business and so we need to make sure that we put things right.”

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