Uche Usim, Abuja
Scores of youths participating in the “YouWin! Connect Programme” yesterday stormed the Finance Ministry head office to protest what they described as zero funding of their various initiatives over non-payment of their grants for close to one year.
The YouWin programme is an innovative business plan where beneficiaries compete to come with bankable projects. It is aimed at job creation by encouraging and supporting aspiring entrepreneurial youths in Nigeria to develop and execute business ideas.
But the Federal Ministry of Finance has promised to address grievances raised by participants in the YouWin! Connect Programme.
Spokesperson of the Ministry, Hassan Dodo, said the planned intervention was the outcome of the meeting between officials of the Ministry and representatives of participants of the YouWin! Connect Capacity Building Programme, who came to seek further clarifications in respect of the programme.
The Ministry said it will soon update all stakeholders on the next phases of the YouWin! Connect Programme and further pointed out that such clarification became necessary because many participants in the programme had sought information on how their businesses could be supported, having completed the second phase of the YouWin Connect Capacity Building.
The aggrieved youths who stormed the Ministry with placards insisted they were not lazy but neglected by the government.
The awardees described the development as frustrating as it is negatively affecting the business, which the grant ought to have been used to support when their proposals were approved by the Federal Government.
Speaking with Daily Sun, one of the awardees who gave her name as Rita Nduonufit said the non-release of the grant is affecting the drive to use the programme as an avenue to create jobs.
She said, “we are here to protest the non-funding of our businesses under the YouWin programme. There is money because prior to 2017, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun said we have N100 billion for this rebranded project of the YouWin programme.
“Now, we are stuck, we have written to the President (Muhammadu Buhari), we have written to the Vice President (Yemi Osinbajo) and we have written to the Ministry of Finance and they said they are done with us.”
She expressed disappointment over the non-release of the fund despite the fact that about 5,000 out of the over 160,000 of them who applied for the programme were adjudged successful by the ministry.
She added: “Hundreds of thousands of us applied for the programme. We were shortlisted to 61,000 people and we were moved on to an online programme before shortlisting brought it further to 5,000 and called us winners of the YouWin Programme.
“These 5,000 people were given an in-house capacity building programme and here we are, no response from the ministry, no communications and we have no funds.”
The initiative, which promotes entrepreneurship as a viable career option for young Nigerians has also supported the growth and development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with over 61,000 participants receiving online capacity building.