THE House of Representatives Committee on Sports and Youth Development has pledged support for youth empowerment in the country by ensuring that all relevant authorities in the country accord the youth their due attention.
The Chairman of the committee, Rep. Yemi Adaramodu (APC-Ekiti), made the pledge at the 2021 budget defence of the Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development in Abuja on Monday.
Adaramodu expressed displeasure at the meagre budgetary allocation to the supervising ministry, saying that something deliberate had to be done for youth development in the country.
He said following the recent development in the country, it was expected that the budget for the ministry would be the first of its kind.
According to him, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has a lot for the youth, so many programmes, but queried how the programmes were being implemented.
“The issues of N12.5 billion to be released this year for youth development, we want to make sure that the ministry is given the very free hand so that it will not end up in another ministry or agency.
“If the government wants to give loans and grants to the youth, let the ministry do it directly, let it identify the youth, it has the database. So let it do it.
“The idea of creating another ‘lord’ somewhere and they will be lording it over the ministry, the Rep members will take it as a very serious task and compel the supposed authority to ensure things are done well in Nigeria.
“In the next budget, the committee and the ministry will make a very strong case, if truly we are not just mouthing it that the youth constitute about 65 per cent of the population.
“We have to ensure that enough funds are given to the ministry; we rather take care of the youth or leave them like that and face the consequences,” he said.
He stressed the need to empower the ministry and ensure that it was fully in charge of all youth-related programmes of the government.
“There was a time I accosted the minister to inquire about how the ministry monitors the N-Power programme of the Federal Government.
“This committee and the committee on SDGs were mandated by the Speaker to inquire into the N-Power operations in Nigeria.
“We found out that the ministry of youth that is supposed to be in charge of youths in Nigeria is oblivious of what is happening to the youth that are being taken care of in the N-Power.
“When you have programmes for the youth and the minister in charge of the ministry of youths is not in charge or a part of it, then how are you going to get to the supposed beneficiaries.
“Hence, we always have all these type of inconsistency and haphazardly implemented policies,” he said.
Earlier, the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr Sunday Dare, told the lawmakers that the ministry habours two of the largest constituencies in the country.
According to him, we habour the youth, who gave us a sample of their voice just in the last two weeks, and sports.
He noted that some 120 million Nigerians love sports.
The minister said that when the budget of the ministry is compared to the attention given to the ministry, “it becomes extremely problematic.”
Dare said that the 2020 capital expenditure of the ministry is N2.8 billion but added that N1.3 billion was released.
According to the minister in the last four years, capital expenditure has been on the decline.
He said that the overhead appropriation for the ministry was N13.2 billion and one billion was released while the personnel cost was N48 billion which was administered by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.
“Our 2020 performance is 50 per cent and we only got the releases in September 2020 and we are trying to complete procurement processes,” the minister said.
He said that for the 2021 budget, N2 billion was allocated for personnel cost, N2 billion for overhead and N9.9 billion for capital expenditure.
Dare said that the amount was grossly inadequate to finance the maintenance of the five national stadia as well as mini sports and youth development centres across the country.
He, therefore, urged the committee to support the ministry toward achieving its mandate which is to reach out to the youth and ensuring their development.
Nov 3, 2020 @ 14:15 GMT