The Federal Government, in September last year lunched a scheme known as Youth Empowerment and Social Support Operation (YESSO) in furtherance of its determination to eradicate poverty in the country especially at the grass rootslevel.
The scheme was designed by the federal government with financial assistance from the World Bank to address the high rate of youth unemployment in the country. The support operation was also designed in close partnership between the federal government and 20 states in Nigeria, namely: Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Oyo and Yobe respectively.
The objective of this support operation according to the federal government was to increase access of poor citizens to youth employment opportunities, social services, and strengthened safety net systems in participating states.
In line with the plan, all states are eligible to participate upon fulfilling the eligibility criteria. These are: existing interventions in skills development, public works or CCT, with at least 2012/2013 budget utilization and evidence of implementation and progress; established institutional structure with dedicated staff; a functional Project Financial Management Unit in the state; adopted and domesticated the Generic Operations Manual and signed Subsidiary Credit Agreement with the Federal Ministry of Finance.
The YESSO programme is driven on four main components focusing on core expected deliverables of the intervention. The first component is to assist the establishment of an effective Social Safety Net coordination at Federal Government level for partnership with States, LGAs, and other partners and at the state level for harmonizing, monitoring and evaluation of the assistance programme.
The second component is the public workfare programme, which would support participating state governments to provide immediate labour intensive work opportunities for unskilled youths from poor ouseholds.
Component three, skills for job, focuses on demand-driven skills training designed to enable trainees make the most of actual opportunities in local labour markets, institutional capacity building, and public-private sector partnerships.
Conditional Cash Transfer is the fourth component which is to provide effective incentives for extremely poor households to invest in the human capital development of their children and adequate cash benefits to increase household consumption.
YESSO operates mainly through existing government structures and systems. Two major coordination units (one at the Federal level and another at the state level) are responsible for the YESSO support. The
implementation arms are the designated MDAs at the state level.
At the federal level, YESSO is being coordinated by a central Federal Operations Coordinating Unit (FOCU) called YESSO Unit at the Federal Ministry of Finance. Other agencies of federal government involved in implementing activities under the operations are: The National Planning Commission (NPC), the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), National Poverty Eradication Programme Office (NAPEP), AND THE Millennium Development Goals Office (MDGs).
These agencies have all been implementing similar government programs and/or have the mandate to do so. The FOCU provides overall guidance, coordination, technical assistance, monitoring and evaluation and reporting on the YESSSO, with NDE leading the implementation of the skills for job component through its state offices and in partnership with designated state agencies and organized private sector. MDGs and NAPEP provide additional funding, technical support and monitoring and
evaluation assistance to states on the CCT component.
As planned, in each state, the operation is under the guidance of state Operations Coordinating Unit (SOCU) as designated and located by the state government. The SOCU is responsible for the establishment of the central safety net coordination system including the targeting syaytem and maintain the unified registry and is accountable to the state government.
Speaking during the official lunch of the scheme, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy , Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala said the new government scheme known as Youth Employment and social support operation (YESSO) would help to eradicate poverty at the grass root level by addressing the high rate of youth unemployment in the country.
According to her, the YESSO document would guild the implementation of the scheme across the states of the federation. She explained that the scheme is open to all the state in the country who are willing to participate.
Just week, the World Bank announced that it has earmarked a $300 million to support youth empowerment intervention in Nigeria under the bank’s Youth Empowerment Social Support Operation (YESSO), using the template of Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES).
The World Bank Task Team Leader for YESSO, Professor Foluso Okunmadewa disclosed this at the Training the Trainers Programme on Community Based Targeting and Unified Registry of Beneficiaries of the scheme for participants from Osun, Ekiti and Oyo states.
The three states are among the seven pilot states for the scheme, which include Bauchi, Cross River, Kwara and Niger states.
Okunmadewa said the training by the World Bank would help the pilot states to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their various youths empowerment schemes.
“The main focus is to train on how to do community-based targeting and how to create a single register for beneficiaries of each states so that the targeted poor and vulnerable people can be captured in the programme”, he said. Speaking, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of the State of Osun on Community Forum, olatunbosun Oyintiloye said the YESSO, just like OYES, would go a long way in reducing unemployment rate and poverty in the country.
Expressing satisfaction that the World Bank and the Federal Government are keying into the idea of OYES, Oyintiloye said the OYES scheme alone has taken off 40,000 youths off the streets within the last three years of this administration.
He said through the OYES alone, Osun is injecting N200 million into the local economy, which, he said has further bossted the state economy.
He then counselled government at all levels to key into the culture of reducing the rate of unemployment across the country. Also, the State Operation Coordinator of YESSO, Mr Femi Ifaturoti, said the interest of the World Bank is to develop the capacities and expand the youth empowerment intervention programmes in Osun and other pilot states, so that it can be replicated in other states of Nigeria. The main focus of the traning, he said, was to create community-based targetting and create registers for the beneficiaries, so that whenever such registers are needed for anything, it would be available.
Nigerians believed that if the scheme is well followed and the funds meant to take the poor youths out of the streets are not diverted, then the programme is capable of reducing the high rate of unemployment in the country.