By Maria Famakinwa
The N-Power programme was inaugurated by President Muhammad Buhari in 2016 under the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) with the mandate of lifting citizens out of poverty through capacity building, investment and direct support.
The initiative is set up to employ jobless graduates for two years with N30,000 monthly take home after which they are expected to stand on their own utilising the experience gathered. The Hope spoke to some Nigerians including N-Power beneficiaries on how effective is the programme with the reactions that greeted the recent disengagement of the N-Power batches A and B by the federal government in order to recruit batch C.
Why some of the citizens supported the idea of the scheme and applauded the Federal Government decision to disengage batches A and B beneficiaries, others condemned the idea on the basis that it was against the set objectives of the N-Power scheme and that it will further increase unemployment rate the government is trying to reduced.
According to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq explained that the need to provide opportunities for new beneficiaries informed the decision to disengage the batch A and B beneficiaries of the scheme to pave way for another set so as, to care for youth who are one way or the other affected by the recent coronavirus outbreak.
Her words,” The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up huge challenges that have impacted us negatively across the spectrum from our health to the economy and taken a serious humanitarian toll on lives. This is the major reason we have commenced enrollment of Batch C, which is providing opportunities for more Nigerians youths to gain skills for employability and entrepreneurship.”
A teacher, Mrs Adenike, revealed that the scheme which is aimed at reducing unemployment among the youth was not taken seriously by some of the beneficiaries yet they get paid at the end of the month. Most of them according to her only showed up once in two weeks and go out without permission. ”Most of them misuse this rare opportunity and this make me to be very angry. How can one be given an assignment and refuse to do it as expected but expect to collect salary at the end of the month?
”In the school where I teach, we have three N-Power teachers, but they always come up with one excuse or the other in order not to be present in the class for the primary assignment. In some schools, they do not even show up at all. They collude with the school authority who cover up for them. As good as the initiative is, most of the beneficiaries are not taking it serious. Some of them will not even show up at all. One of them once complained that the monthly take home was poor compared to the present economy reality and that he needed to look for better offer. I then told him that he ought not to have taken up the job initially. They are only interested in the money and not committed to the job.’’
The woman advised Federal Government to come up with stringent measures in order to fish out the lazy ones among them who are in the habit of receiving salaries for the services they did not render. ”This will help to fish out those who are not committed among them and replace them with serious ones because impacting knowledge is a serious task that need dedicated teachers.”
In the submission of a batch A member of the N-Power scheme, Mr Tade Oyinlola, thanked the Federal Government for coming up with the idea which he observed has helped some of them to gain more skills and become useful to themselves. ”The idea of N-Power is empowering some graduates to start something on their own, no matter how little, it is better than none. With the little experience we gained from the scheme and assistant from family, we should be able to do something tangible with our lives rather than roaming about the streets.”
On why some of the beneficiaries were not taking the job seriously, said that she could not speak for others but explained that some N-Power employees complained that the money being paid cannot sustain them and that the job is not permanent hence, the need for them to look for better ones that can guarantee them brighter future.
One of the disengaged beneficiaries, who simply gave his name as Abimbola, lamented that the purpose of the scheme had been defeated because many of them who were batches A and B members have been sent back into the labour market. She added,”the purpose of the N-Power programme is to reduce graduates unemployment but now, we have been disengaged, where do we go from here? How do I survive now when most organizations including government establishments are not ready to employ? Some companies have shut down already due to the effect of coronavirus. It is as if we are back to zero level.”
Sharing a similar sentiment, another disengaged batch B member, Mr Ike who was also not happy when he heard that they have been disengaged said that most of them were thinking that they would be absorbed into different ministries at the expiration of their expected two years.
His words, ”The disengagement news came to many of the N-Power employees as a rude shock because we are expecting the Federal Government to absorb us as permanent government workers. It is a sad news to us.”
When told that some of the N-Power beneficiaries were accused of nonchalant attitude towards the job said, ”Many are not committed to the job because there is no future in it. Now, I am being ask to go after two years, I am now back into the teeming labour market to start searching for unavailable job. This is the question people ask me everyday which I cannot find right answer to. I was employed as a teacher into N-Power programme and expected to start my own school from the experience I gathered for the two years I spent in the scheme.
”How do I get the money to start a school business? Is it from the monthly N30,000 I was paid that is not even enough to care for my needs? These are facts that we should bring to the fore. As we speak, many of us are yet to be paid March. So, the whole system is confusing. Where do they expect many like me to start from.? Giving jobless graduates two years job is like employing them as an IT students and not employment generation.”