•VP urges governors to implement policies to alleviate citizen suffering

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja


The National Economic Council (NEC) has endorsed the implementation of the $617.7 million Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (i-DICE) programme in the 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory (FCT).

This was the resolution at the council’s 140th meeting held virtually yesterday, and chaired by, Vice President Kashim Shettima.

The Vice President emphasised the unwavering commitment of President Bola Tinubu’s administration to establish a lasting heritage of prosperity and opportunities for every Nigerian.

He directed governors to select individuals to serve as representatives for each geo-political zone at the zonal level, and appoint focal persons to spearhead the execution of the programme within their respective states.

Shettima assured that as the scheme becomes operational in the coming weeks, implementation across the country would be diligent, committed and forthright.

He assured that the administration would not rest on its oars until the citizens begin to bask in the opportunities they were promised, noting that it is the reason why the government is prioritizing skill acquisition and job creation.

The VP specifically noted that prioritising whatever offers Nigerians a means to earn a living with dignity are part of President Tinubu’s eight-point agenda.

“But two things are clear: one, we won’t ever regret paving the way for the acquisition of skills that meet the needs of the global markets; two, our actions today will shape the economic landscape of tomorrow, and so it’s incumbent upon us to ensure that we leave a legacy of prosperity and opportunity for all Nigerians.

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“When we empower entrepreneurs and small business owners, we unlock the potential for innovation, job creation, and economic growth. By providing access to financing, training, and mentorship programs, we unleash the entrepreneurial spirit that lies within every Nigerian, catalysing a wave of economic prosperity that benefits us all. We cannot achieve this without inclusivity and equitable access to opportunities. This is the ladder we must offer to every disadvantaged citizen.”

He noted that the government has moved beyond mere deliberations to the implementation phase and was actively pursuing its short-term goals en route to achieving our medium-term and long-term strategies.

“My confidence in our ability to fix our nation stems from the unity of purpose this Council has demonstrated. We have rejected binary thinking, resisted divisions, and relegated self-interest in favor of a shared vision for progress.”

He observed, however, that despite the interventions made so far to prevent natural disasters, “to combat crude oil theft in the Niger Delta, to alleviate the short-term inflationary impacts of our economic-saving decisions, to mitigate environmental damage, and to curb revenue loss”, the efforts would be useless to the citizens unless “job creation and skill development at every corner of the nation” are prioritised.

Noting that it was not the best of times to be in office, Shettima implored the governors and other council members to remain constant in executing  initiatives that will help wriggle the citizens out of their present condition.

“This is a delicate period to occupy offices like ours. We cannot remind ourselves enough that we have come at a time that tests the depth of our leadership and demands our most rational wisdom to make a difference,” he stated.

In his presentation on the i-DICE programme, executive director in charge of SMES at the Bank of Industry (BoI), Shekarau Omar, said the i-DICE programme, a special intervention by government, aims to deliver on the promise by the Tinubu administration to create millions of jobs in the technology space.

He explained that the programme is in support of government’s agenda to create more sustainable jobs, diversify the economy and equip digital and creative incubation hubs/innovation centers across the country.

He listed African Development Bank (AfDB), the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) among organisations that will fund the programme, giving a breakdown of how the funds will be sourced as follows: AfDB, $170million; IsDB, $70 million; AFD, $116 million;  Bank of Industry (BoI) on behalf of federal government of Nigeria (FGN), $45.50 million; Fund Manager (For Equity Fund only), $8.70 million, and private investors, $205 million.

On the impact of the programme, Omar said 1,269,757 youths will be trained and certified in ICT skills, with at least 25,000 youths trained in each state of the federation and the FCT.

He noted that while at least 100,000 jobs will be created per state, about 5,581,231 indirect jobs will be created through i-DICE interventions nationwide.

Other highlights of the 140th meeting of the Council were: Excess crude account (ECA) $473,754.57, Stabilization Account ₦33,808,342,662.88, Current Balance of Natural Resources N113,925,600,918.68.