By Yusuf Ibrahim, Abuja
In 2015, the Federal Government introduced the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), as a deliberate effort to pull many Nigerians out of poverty through capacity building, investment and direct support.
N-Power is a component of the NSIP and all other components of it have come under the supervision of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to help tackle unemployment and alleviate poverty in the country, with the focus on the youth population.
The programme was d ivided into four major clusters: Job Creation, Conditional Cash Transfer, School Feeding and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
As an employability enhancement programme, the N-Power scheme imbibes the learn-work-entrepreneurship culture in youth between the ages of 18 and 35. It focuses on improving the employability and income status of young Nigerians across all the states in the country.
According to the Ministry of Social Development, “The programme is a tripod of learn, work and exit into entrepreneurship targeted at unemployed youths.”
It needs to be added that, as enrollees exit into enterprise, fresh beneficiaries are enrolled as starters.
It was designed to help young Nigerians acquire and develop life-long skills to become solution providers in their communities, improve their employability and entrepreneurial skills, improve public service delivery in key focus areas and to drive social, economic and financial inclusion.
The N-Power is a deliberate policy by the Federal Government to address the challenge of youth unemployment by providing a structure for relevant skill acquisition and development while linking its core and outcomes to fixing inadequate public services and stimulating the larger economy.
According to the social development ministry, N-Power would ensure that each beneficiary learns and practices all that is necessary to create work and generate income. Indeed, the N-Power was introduced to systemically reduce poverty and improve livelihood and human capital development in order to spur inclusive economic growth across various segments of Nigeria’s population.
The specific objectives of the programme are to: intervene and directly improve the livelihood of a critical mass of young unemployed Nigerians; develop a qualitative system for the transfer of employability, entrepreneurial and technical skills; create an ecosystem of solutions for ailing public services and government diversification policies; develop and enhance Nigeria’s knowledge economy; and provide opportunity for fresh graduates to become entrepreneurs of their own micro/small business outfits.
The impact of N-power in the South-West, for example, has been resounding. With nearly 100,000 enrolees, which accounts for about 20 per cent in national distribution of N-power enrolments in batches A and B, there has been no shortage of positive testimonies from the South-West N-exit just as the Batch C figures in the region look promising.
Recall that the South-West was also among the first regions to witness the onboarding of independent monitors recently inaugurated by the honourable minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, in her determination to give more credence to the N-Power programme and its impact on Nigerian youth.
As a beacon of hope, the programme has transformed the lives of many young Nigerians who hitherto lost confidence in government and the systemic failure that had left them stranded without jobs, skills and sustainable means of livelihood.
Since the introduction of the programme, a lot of unemployed youths have been trained in the field of agriculture, enterprise and, more than anything else, have acquired survival skills and a potential to be employers of labour.
The N-Power cash-for-work programme inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 with 500,000 direct beneficiaries is spread across targeted industries. According to the Presidency, no fewer than 30,000 erstwhile N-Power beneficiaries have also been hired as agric enumerators.
Under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), over a total of 5.4million farmers were enumerated to get credit and input support. Through geospatial tagging, almost 73,000 N-Power volunteers were trained and 30,000 of them deployed to 774 local government areas.
There is no doubt that the programme has helped many unemployed young Nigerians across the six geo-political zones of the country. Recently, some youths across the South-East geo-political zone sent words of commendation to the Federal Government for developing social intervention programmes, especially N-Power, which they noted, has made them employers of labour.
Specifically, the young men and women, who spoke under the auspices of Igbo Youths for One Nigeria (IYON), applauded the patriotic disposition of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, whose passion for the vulnerable, they said, remains unparalleled.
Apart from initiating skill acquisition programmes in tailoring, welding among others, the youths explained that many of them were also given tokens that enabled them start their own businesses.
In a statement jointly signed by the president, Comrade Chukwunyelum Okonta, and the secretary, Ms. Chinonye Okoh, the group called on Igbo sons and daughters – at home and in the diaspora – to support the Buhari administration’s efforts towards enthroning national unity and cohesion.
According to IYON, the fact that many of the young men and women between the ages of 18 and 35 benefited from N-Power and other social safety nets emplaced by the Federal Government was an indication that President Buhari does not dislike the Igbo.
The group, therefore, called on beneficiaries of N-Power in the five states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo to help propagate the positive impact of government’s people-oriented programmes, in a bid to restore the confidence of the people of South-East in the administration.
“May we hasten to state that as youths across the South-East zone, never have we had it so good in terms of empowerment programmes of the central government as is the case now. Today, apart from being self-sufficient and self-reliant, we are employers of labour, which is courtesy of the skills the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, ably led by the passionate and detribalised Minister, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, armed us with.
“Accordingly, we avow our determination to defend the President Buhari-led administration with all that we have, considering the fact that, without the skills acquired, we possibly will still be on the streets looking for jobs”.
As earlier indicated, the N-Power programme is being expanded to take in more beneficiaries as others graduate out of the scheme. There are several batches of beneficiaries in an expanded social register that initially targeted just 500,000 enrollees. As at December 2020, the number of beneficiaries stood at one million.
The ministry plans to escalate the scheme by creating the National Social Investment Management System (NASIMS). Indeed, N-Power is a scheme that must continue for the benefit of the millions of unemployed Nigerians. However, beneficiaries must be encouraged to be employers of labour to speedily reduce the rate of unemployment in the country.