The Federal Government in collaboration with the World Bank on Thursday inaugurated the Global Distance Learning Institute for the development of entrepreneurial capacity of Nigerian students.
The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who inaugurated the institute in Abuja, said the move was part of the determination of the Federal Government to boost the capacity of Nigerians so that they could gainfully employ themselves.
She said the institute, which is one of such centres established through facilities from the World Bank in 12 African countries, would also provide relevant resources for both the public and private sectors of the Nigerian economy.
Okonjo-Iweala said, “We have decided to partner with the private sector to help us to get even more youths to be trained in places like this so that they can employ themselves gainfully.
“The chief executive officer has asked that we send more people to him so that he can train them in software engineering and other technical skills that can help them to employ themselves or be employed elsewhere.
“We are here today because the government believes in it. The government of President Goodluck Jonathan really worries about jobs.
“We sympathise with our young people. We are not trying to boast and say we have done well. We have created 1.6 million jobs and that is very good, but we know that 200,000 youths per year have not got jobs and we sympathise with them; but sympathy is not enough, we must work to create those jobs and this is part of it.”
The minister also said that in spite of the report of the World Bank, which rated Nigeria among the world’s extreme poor countries, the nation’s economy still had lots of potential to lift the people out of the poverty trap.
Okonjo-Iweala, who was responding to questions on the World Bank report on the sidelines of the inauguration of the institute, said, “India is a middle income country and it is one of the largest in the world and Nigeria is also a big economy, but the highest number of poor people in the world are in India and China and other places.
“Most middle income countries, even Brazil, have large numbers of poor people and that is the reality and Nigeria is no exception, and when the World Bank president is talking, he also talked about these countries.
“So, we should not try to single Nigeria out; the phenomenon we have in Nigeria whereby we are growing but have poor people is everywhere, and what we have to do is focus on the answer.”
The minister said, “What are other countries doing that we can also learn from and do? Nobody says that everything is fine but we are learning, and when we make some progress like other countries, we should also acknowledge it.
“I have been to India and I can tell you about that the situation of some poor people there; if you compare it to Nigeria, you will be happy to be a Nigerian.” (Punch)