By: Akanimo Sampson
About 500,000 persons engaged in N-Power of Social Investment Programme will soon be rendered jobless as the Federal Government is set to dispense with their services.
A statement by Rhoda Iliya, a spokesperson for the humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development ministry, said the current beneficiaries have overstayed in the programme, “thereby denying other Nigerians an opportunity to access the programme and gain skills for entrepreneurship and employment.”
Iliya noted that their current engagement has contributed to “the administration’s vision of lifting 100 million people out of poverty by creating opportunities to enhance the productivity of the Nigerian youth.”
The programme has enrolled 500,000 beneficiaries thus far – 200,000 from Batch A which started in September 2016 and 300,000 from Batch B which kicked off in August 2018.
The beneficiaries were supposed to spend 24 months on the programme but Batch A beneficiaries have spent more than 40 months.
“Both Batches will soon be terminated according to the (press) release for the reasons given in the (press) release,” Salisu Na’inna Danbatta, the special adviser on media to the minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development minister Sadiya Farouq told The Guardian on Monday.
The last official figures released by Nigeria’s statistics office put the unemployment rate at 23.1%. Labour minister Chris Ngige said that figure could rise to 33.5 this year.
Although Illiya confirmed that the government is working on the exit for the beneficiaries, she did not give a specific date or month.
“The first and second batch, they are still working on their exit,” Illiya told our correspondent, “There is no specific date.”
The Underlying issues
N-Power beneficiaries have not been pleased with the administration of the programme since the management of the programme was transferred to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in 2019.
They said all was well with the programme initially and that the former managers of the programme have started putting in place an exit strategy for them.
However, about 24 months after N-power’s launch, the sweet stories soon became sour to tell for these beneficiaries after Buhari announced major shifts in the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) which N-Power is part of.
The beneficiaries through a group named the 36-states N-power Representative Forum in a letter to in an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on May 22, said the minister has “inflicted enough pain” on them since the programme was transferred to her ministry.
They advised Buhari to remove Farouq as a minister and replace her with someone else that is “more competent, proactive and youth-friendly.”
“She is just not competent,” the forum president Kabiru Pelemi told our correspondent on phone. “She should be removed.”
In an April 13 letter addressed to Senate President Ahmed Lawan, Pelemi claimed the minister did not have “administrative control over the runnings of the N-Power Programme.”
“The two batches of the graduate category have experienced frequent late payment of monthly stipend compared to when the programme was under the Vice President’s Office.”
When contacted about the allegations, Danbatta simply said, “They can remove her.”