By EricJames Ochigbo
YIAGA Africa-Centre for Legislative Engagement (YIAGA-CLE) an NGO, has said the 2018 budget for the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is “unrealistic.”
The Executive Director of the NGO, Mr Samson Itodo made the statement during an advocacy visit to the Chairman, House Committee on Youths and Development, Rep. Segun Adekola (Ekiti-PDP) in Abuja.
Represented by the Senior Programme Manager of the NGO, Ms Yetunde Bakare, Itodo stressed the need to review the budget for the benefits of the youths in the country.
Itodo explained that YIAGA-CLE with support from the European Union undertook an analysis of the 2018 budget of the ministry.
He said that the aim was to ascertain the position of youth development on the priority list of the Federal Government based on the budget proposal and its responsiveness to the needs young people.
Itodo explained that the analysis also looked at the budget of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, the Ministry Agriculture and Rural Development.
He said that the budget of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the budget for the Social Investment Program (SIP) and the budget for the National Directorate of Employment were equally analysed.
He said the youth ministry had been allocated the sum of N16.2 billion which represents 1.4 per cent of the N8.612 trillion proposal of the Federal Government.
Itodo said a breakdown of the budget indicated that the recurrent budget consisting Salaries and Overheads takes a larger share of 95 per cent while the capital budget which funds projects and programmes was only 5 per cent.
He said that the budget failed to meet the government’s policy of 30 to 70 per cent allocation for recurrent and capital expenditures respectively.
The executive director said that the ministry’s budget was very lean when compared to the role it is expected to perform.
He said that too many new underfunded projects were introduced and were likely to result to incomplete projects.
According to him, details of the budget were not explicit to ensure transparency and fiscal responsibility.
Itodo recommended an adjustment in the budget to increase the allocation for capital expenditures.
He recommended that projects on entrepreneurship, vocational skill acquisition training should be adequately funded.
Responding, the committee chairman blamed the situation on the merging of the Ministry of Youth Development and the Federal Ministry of Sports.
Adekola said that the merger had really affected youth development as the focus is now mainly on sports.
He said that the mandate of youth development had been relegated to the background.
Adekola said that during the budget defence, the committee was vehement that there was nothing in the budget to take care of youth development.
The Chairman said most youths are not gainfully employed and that the thousands of youths roaming the streets was responsible for the unabated spate of militancy, terrorism, prostitution and the menace of herdsmen.
“So I agree with you that the budget did not take adequate care of youths, it is unfortunate that we have already passed the budget defence stage.
“However, we will make sure a holistic investigation and forensic auditing is carried out in the ministry,” he said.
The Chairman said that the committee had made a case for the establishment of a youth commission to take care of the welfare of young people.