Nigeria will create more than 700,000 jobs as part of a strategy to reduce the economic effects on the youth, the country’s president said on Friday.

In a nationwide broadcast in celebration of Democracy Day, Muhammadu Buhari said the youth will be engaged in the special public works program aimed at cushioning the effects of economic downturn.

Democracy Day in Nigeria is celebrated on June 12, a national public holiday in the West African country. Until June 6, 2018, it was held annually on May 29.

“As part of the strategy to create jobs in reducing the effect of COVID-19 on our youths, I directed the employment of 774,000 Nigerians,” Buhari added.

He said each of the 774 local government areas in the country will be allotted 1,000 slots. “I am pleased to report that this program has commenced.”

With a population of nearly 200 million, the West African country has so far recorded 14,554 coronavirus cases, with 387 deaths and 4,494 recoveries, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Buhari said that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the country’s economy.

To ensure its functioning while still addressing the spread, the president said, the government has put in place a number of various non-pharmaceutical measures to slow down the spread of the virus.

Nigeria’s initial six-week lockdown which ended on June 1 has been replaced by the COVID-19 Presidential Taskforce with a second phase four-week lockdown through June 29.

“Government is determined to turn this COVID-19 challenge into a motivation to action by building a nation-wide public health care system that will help us overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for any future outbreak.

”Already, we have begun to look inward and I charge our inventors, researchers and scientists to come up with solutions to cure COVID-19,” added.

Nigeria recorded its first case of COVID-19 on Feb. 27.

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