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OPINION

N-Power : Continuity Assured

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In a most unfortunate twist to the nag￾ging issue of youth unemployment, the pioneer beneficiaries of N-Power, one
of the most innovative and impactful
Federal Government interventions to re￾dress the situation, are intent on practi￾cally confiscating the scheme to the exclusion of countless thousands of youths eagerly waiting for their turn to be em￾powered by acquiring and developing  life-long skills, not only to be gainful￾ly employed but indeed to become job creators.

This astonishing example of unpatriot￾ic selfishness is least expected of youths
who should actually be agitating for ex- pansion of the N-Power, rather than an
abrupt termination of the programme
which is the illogical implication of
their thoughtless demand to be perma￾nently absorbed into the programme just so they can continue collecting N30,000 monthly stipends !

Believe it or not these hitherto job￾less N-Power beneficiaries would rath￾er continue receiving stipends payable
for the duration of their deployment to
schools and other institutions to work
than to move onto higher levels of life
as software developers, hardware ser￾vice professionals, animators, graphic artists, building services professionals, artisans, for which they were special- ly empowered under the programme. If they are so penny-wise-pound-foolish (as the old saying put it) even as sup￾posedly “ambitious digital age” youth, it is no shock that they could not give a damn about their peers’ future or the future of Nigeria which earnestly con￾ferred them with the anticipatory appel￾lation of “leaders of tomorrow”.
Let us however put issues in per￾spective by recalling that the N-Power programme was inaugurated by Presi￾dent Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 un- der the National Social Investment Pro￾gramme (NSIP) to empower youth with capacity building, investment, and di￾rect support. The National Social In￾vestment Program is a social welfare
initiative created to ensure a more eq￾uitable distribution of resources to vul￾nerable populations, including children, youth, and women. The N-Power was designed to target Nigerians between 18 and 35 to develop life-long skills for up￾lifting their communities to which they will be deployed after training.

According to background informa￾tion made available at the launching,
the program is also expected to upgrade
our youth to be relevant and effective
in the globalized economy with skills
and certifications for emerging glob￾al markets, hence its focus on provid￾ing non-graduates with relevant tech￾nical and business skills that enhance
their work outlook and livelihood in
support of Federal Government‘s ini￾tiatives for diversifying the economy.
It has enrolled 500,000 beneficiaries so
far with 200,000 in Batch A which com- menced in September 2016 and 300,000
in Batch B in August 2018, with priority
on major industrial sectors such as agri￾culture, health and education.
Due to various unforeseen challeng￾es typical of a new programme, Batch
A beneficiaries who were supposed to
spend 24 months on the programme
have spent over 40 months as a conse￾quence of which thousands of other Ni￾gerians could not access the programme as initially scheduled. As if this was not bad enough, the participants veered into all sorts of irresponsible abuse of pre￾cious opportunity such as absconding from their Places of Primary Assign￾ment (PPA) among other misconduct aimed at getting stipends they did notearn. Reports show that as many as 5,781 beneficiaries were forcefully dis￾engaged because of disciplinary issues.

Halting the rot infesting N-Power and
other National Social Investment Pro￾grammes must have informed the de￾cision announced by President Buhari transferring them from the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to the Minis- try of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development following the befitting appointment of Federal Commissioner in charge of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Per￾sons (NCFRMI, Hajia Sa’adiya Umar Farouq, a seasoned administrator of humanitarian programmes with valu￾able insight into social welfare issues, as founding Minister.

With a meticulous eye on the prob￾lems and prospects of the transiting
agencies and programmes, she under￾took the tedious task of not just relo￾cating them but also repositioning them for a mwore prudent and effective de￾livery of their sorely-needed services
to a vast majority of vulnerable popu￾lations, including children, youth and women.

Her motherly instincts, humble dis- position and vast experience enabled
her to maintain focus and compas￾sionate concern for this national as- signment with a humane agenda, rare- ly rattled by the rabble-rousing and
buck-passing antics of dislodged vest￾ed interests and allied busy-bodies.

Thus she was able to wisely tidy up
the books and identify the fundamen- tal flaws glossed over in the past so as
to re-align the programme towards a
smooth and sustainable implementa- tion going forward.

An important outcome of this review
and reform process was the renewed
effort to develop a feasible exit strate- gy for the beneficiaries, which the Na￾tional Social Investment Office (NSIO)
had not done prior to the transition to
the new ministry and was a loophole
exploited by the beneficiaries who ex￾ceeded the programme duration. Ha￾jia Sa’adiya Umar Farouq also found
out that the retention of N-Power ben￾eficiaries who should have exited was responsible for the delayed payment of the stipends of the beneficiaries. She
has since been working on a suitable
exit strategy so that they can proceed
to a more productive venture and give
others the opportunity to benefit.

In many ways, the transition of the
Federal Government’s social interven￾tion programmes, especially N–Pow￾er, to the Ministry of Humanitarian Af￾fairs, Disaster Management and Social Development was the saving grace that gave them a new lease of sustainable continuity by removing the pile-up of overstaying beneficiaries, thereby re￾storing opportunities for thousands of youth hitherto denied participation in the programme for acquiring and de￾veloping life-long skills, not only to be gainfully employed but indeed to be￾come job creators.
The unpatriotic N-Power beneficia￾ries may have been exploiting the le￾thargic bureaucracy that was also in- sensitive to the implications of leaving the scheme for so long without an exit
strategy but Hajia Sa’adiya Farouq has
demonstrated the difference which dili￾gent supervision, patriotic commitment and focus on public interest at the lead- ership level can make to redress anom- alies and restore good governance. N￾Power Must Continue !
– Goga wrote from Kano.

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