Okonjo-Iweala’s YouWin project, a failure – Graduates

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Some distraught young Nigerians have picked holes in the implementation of the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria initiative introduced by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

In a Twitter chat organised by the Senior Pastor of Daystar Christian Centre, Lagos, Sam Adeyemi, on the plight of jobless youths, many Nigerians bared their minds on the high rate of unemployment and lack of start-up capital in the country.

According to some of the online participants, the YouWin scheme designed for entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 45 years has failed in its aim of “creating thousands of jobs.”

One of the participants, Henrietta Ighomrore, accused the Federal Government of reeling off unverifiable statistics of the number of jobs created through the YouWin initiative.

Arguing that YouWin, like other government initiatives had failed to reduce the number of jobless youths, Ighomrore challenged the Federal Government to provide evidence of the creation of over 22,000 jobs through the first two editions of the scheme.

She said, “How did Federal Government measure the jobs created? Please let us know the formula or better still see the evidence. We are hopeful and we do pray for a better Nigeria.

“But let us not build a future based on deception or fictitious analysis. We are inundated with all manner of names and numbers but cannot verify most. Isn’t it strange? The Federal Government should keep selling their numbers.”

For Ayo Jobi-Davids, the success story of YouWin as branded by the Federal Government has not been “awesome.” He noted that the online-powered business competition appeared as if the authorities were “flushing huge sums of money down the toilet.”

The combined success rate of the businesses funded by the scheme, he argued, was less than five per cent, adding that the Federal Ministry of Finance should review the selection criteria for the winners.

Jobi-Davids said, “I have been tracking YouWin winners for a while and facts indicate that only five per cent of the beneficiaries start up companies. In fact, some of the winners take trips abroad and spend the funds as if they just won a lottery.

“Is this (YouWin) a job creation scheme, a mere scam or a good initiative managed poorly? I maintain that the Federal Government needs to review the monitoring standards.”

Warning that the unemployment rate was alarming, he stated that failure to check the menace could cause chaos and public revolts in the country.

He added, “Our current unemployment rate is approximately 30 per cent of the working population. Besides, history (Arab Spring, London and Paris riots) has indicated that once unemployment rises beyond this limit, protests are bound to occur; hence a public revolt that can lead to a revolution is possible. We almost had a revolution in 2012 with the subsidy protest.”

But Okonjo-Iweala disagreed with the critics of the scheme, stating that although the initiative might not be perfect, it had evolved as one of the pragmatic ways of addressing the country’s unemployment rate.

Writing on Twitter, Okonjo-Iweala through her Special Assistant on Media, Paul Nwabuikwu, explained that YouWin had recorded a “stellar success rate.”

In the first two YouWin editions, Okonjo-Iweala argued that no fewer than 22,000 jobs had been created from 2,400 winners of the business competition.

The minister also disagreed with those who described the initiative as a jamboree, saying that they did not get their facts right before “engaging in sweeping condemnation.”

Okonjo-Iweala said, “YouWin is a thoroughly monitored project. Each winner has created an average of nine jobs. For instance, Zainab Sadiq-Enatto, a Kaduna-based YouWin fashion designer, has created about 12 jobs.

“Please let us do some research instead of being negative. YouWin facts are public knowledge. Though not perfect, YouWin is a success.”

Meanwhile, Adeyemi during the Twitter chat, urged the Federal Government to provide an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, adding that there was the need to address “fundamental issues” such as corruption and erosion of values for the country to develop.

The clergyman said, “Businesses must have the environment in which to flourish: They create jobs. To experience change, leadership and followership is critical. We must have values and character. We must be honest.

“Our leaders must be able to say how they succeeded and made money. They must have compassion and the fear of God. They cannot be people who played the game the popular way. They must play a different game and be good role models.”

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