The federal government on Friday, June 19, 2020, proclaimed that it was set to disengage batch A and B 500 thousand graduates benefiting from N30,000 monthly N-Power scheme. The announcement added that fresh batch (C) beneficiaries would be enrolled, commencing from June 26, 2020.
In a statement signed by the humanitarian ministry’s Deputy Director, Information, Rhoda Iliya, said the exit of the volunteers would commence on June 30 and July 31 respectively for batches (A) and (B), adding that the volunteers in both batches are not eligible to participate in the new application process.
It could be recalled that the N-Power programme was inaugurated by President Buhari in 2016 with thousands of beneficiaries across the key industries targeted by the programme – agriculture, health, education, and tax. The first batch (A), which commenced with 200,000 young Nigerians in 2016, was to have exited the scheme in December 2018 but ended up being extended to this moment. The second batch (B) kicked off in August 2018, with 300,000 beneficiaries who ought to exit the programme in July 2020.
The new development has since frightened the volunteers and provoked controversy among Nigerians, especially the beneficiaries. Some people are of the opinion that the disengagement and engagement of fresh ones is a right step in the right direction, while some say the move is likely to be a fate worse than death to the beneficiaries, as most of them rely solely on the scheme as their livelihood. Other people get confused as to how the FG will ensure that the outgoing beneficiaries can not reapply the fresh batch (C) application and what is likely to be the fate of the institutions where the volunteers work, such as Schools and Hospitals, can the vacuum be easily filled?
In my perception, what brought these bewilderment and shock is the failure of the beneficiaries to utilize the programme’s time frame and the resources earned, judiciously. It could be remembered that the N-Power scheme was introduced in 2016 under the social investment programme with the aim of alleviating poverty among Nigerians by assisting them acquire skills, that’s why the programme focuses on various categories, such as agriculture, health, education, among others. The N30,000 monthly salary was aimed at aiding the beneficiaries to venture into small scale businesses so that by the time they would exit, they would be self reliant but unfortunately, most of the beneficiaries deliberately forgot the set goal of the scheme and misplaced the opportunity to the least priority; some of them allowed themselves a life of affluence by marrying more wives, purchasing things unnecessarily. It’s scandalous to note that even the smartphones procured for them several times to encourage them to harness their skills and creativity, proved abortive as most of them sold the phones at a lower rate. The journey of the programme is coming to an end but the mission is partially accomplished and this is owing to the recklessness of the beneficiaries to fail to take stock of their life and the negligence of the government to not oversee how effective or otherwise the scheme has been running. Now the aftermath is unfortunately becoming undesirable.
The federal government can not outrightly be said to be right neither wrong having announced its plan to disengage them. The fact that it’s disengaging them is very known to them right from inception of the programme. Each batch was to exit within the period of 24 months, but batch (A) is privileged to benefit for 40 months. My only quarrel is that the federal government ought to have provided these beneficiaries with other ways of earning a living so that substitute is made before disengaging them. As we all know, it’s better to not experience a luxury at all than experience it for a short period of time. These are people who are used to earning money monthly and some of them have started a family, solely depending on the amount they receive, therefore, if disengaged without anything to replace and anything doing; they are likely to be traumatised, thereby inviting demon’s insinuation that is likely to propel and compel them indulge in ugly trends as it’s said “an idle mind is a devil’s workshop.” But in order to avert this, the federal government needs to, as a matter of urgency, find ways out of not employing them permanently, providing them with viable alternatives so that they can eventually become bold enough to stand on their feet.
However, the federal government should put in place highly sophisticated methods to ensure that all rooms for manoeuvre are blocked so that the outgoing beneficiaries cannot reapply by any means. And for the incoming beneficiaries of the programme to be effective enough, the government must be strategic to make sure that the monthly salaries and incentives given to them, are utilised judiciously and the volunteers are equipped efficiently within the time frame. The beneficiaries, on the other hand, should bear in mind that complementing the government’s efforts is a duty every good citizen is bound by.
Faculty of Communication,