President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja declared that disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is the first step to extensive police reforms by his administration. Speaking at the launch of the Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme (P-YES), aimed at creating 774,000 jobs across the Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country, the President also directed that all the police officers responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts be brought to justice.
The launch of the P-YES programme was attended by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State and Engineer Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State. It was the first time the President would publicly speak on the widespread demand by Nigerians using the hashtag #EndSARS, for end to police brutality and extra judicial killings in the country. ”I will like to use this opportunity to say a word on the recent genuine concerns and agitations by Nigerians about the excessive use of force and in some cases extra-judicial killings and wrongful conduct of the men of the Nigerian Police Force.
”The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people. ”We will also ensure that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts are brought to justice. ”We deeply regret the loss of life of the young man in Oyo State during the recent demonstrations. I have directed that the circumstances of his death should be thoroughly investigated. ”Meanwhile, it is important to recognise that the vast majority of men and women of the police force are hardworking and diligent in performing their duties. ”The few bad eggs should not be allowed to tarnish the image and reputation of the force”, Buhari said. On the empowerment programme, the President while restating his administration’s commitment to youth development and poverty alleviation pledged that the Federal Government policies of social protection and people empowerment would continue on track, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic. He described P-YES as a cornerstone of his administration’s social and economic development strategies, noting it was part of the overall policy of ensuring that 100 million Nigerians were lifted out of poverty in ten years. ”The P-YES is also part of the plan that we adopted in 2016 in which we empowered One hundred youths from each of the 774 Local Government Areas with the necessary tools to acquire skills and establish small businesses. ”Given the success of that initiative, we are now committed to creating 774,000 jobs across all the LGAs, through the P-YES programme,” he said. Buhari, who took a tour of P-YES tools and equipment displayed at the forecourt of Presidential Villa, expressed delight that the materials showcased represented the fruits of the initiatives embarked upon by his administration in 2016.
He stressed that “as an entrepreneurship empowerment project, the P-YES programme aims to address the needs of unskilled and less educated youth.
”It targets key areas of activities that are of practical importance and are essential to every aspect of our economy. ”These include areas such as agriculture and food processing, restaurant and catering, tailoring and fashion design, technical skills such as in the Information and Communications Technology sector, artisanship, welding, carpentry and joinery, other small businesses and activities associated with the micro-economic sector of this economy.” The President used the occasion to call on State Governments, Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to factor the P-YES into their programmes to assist the youth realise their potentials in their chosen fields. He urged local and foreign private sector operators in Nigeria to also contribute their share to the expansion of this programme through channelling their corporate social responsibility efforts towards skills acquisition, creation of start-ups, and other intervention measures.