By Dan Ochonu
There seems to be an uprising concerning the decision of the Honorable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to introduce new beneficiaries into the N-Power scheme under a revised and robust template that would be of utmost benefit to the teeming youthful population in the country.
I am sure it should be surprising to discerning minds that some people would elect to view things only from the prism of their selfish interest. If this is not the case, I wonder on what basis the beneficiaries under the Batch A and B programme are protesting even with the fact that they have stayed in the programme for over 40 months.
As a first, I think it is essential to understand that the N-Power is a job creation and empowerment programme instituted by the Federal Government of Nigeria through its National Social Investment Programmes. In other words, it’s a skill acquisition programme where youths from various parts of the country are trained in various skills under four broad categories such as N-Power Agro, where volunteers will provide advisory services to farmers across the country disseminate the knowledge that has been aggregated by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in the area of extension services. They will also gather data on Nigeria’s agriculture assets
Another category is the N-Power Teach volunteers that are deployed as teachers assistants in primary schools to help improve essential education delivery in Nigeria, and where possible, they will also assist in taking basic education to children in marginalized communities.
The N-Power Health Volunteers help improve and promote preventive healthcare in their communities to vulnerable members of the society, including pregnant women and children and families and individuals.
N-Power Build, Tech and Creative volunteers have received extensive training to help develop and expand their respective skillset, which would help foster innovation and creativity among the youths, while ensuring that they can turn their skills into marketable products. The above explains the N-Power initiative of the Federal Government.
It is therefore pertinent to state that since inception in 2018, the N-Power scheme has catered for over 500,000 youths in the country with 200,000 from Batch A which started in September 2016 and 300,000 from Batch B which kicked off in August 2018. These participants have been trained in various skills as mentioned above that they can deploy to their advantage in future. But ironically, this is not the case as the advocates that have been acting on behalf of these participants wants the programmes to be a permanent and salaried job.
This, in my opinion, is anti-progressive in the sense that they want others to be denied the same opportunity that they had when they enrolled. This is a sad episode if you ask me given the fact that the Batch A and B beneficiaries have elected to let hell loose because the federal government revised the programme to allow room for new beneficiaries under the proposed Batch C programme.
Welcome to Nigeria where patriotism is never the watchword if you decide to stand on the side of truth and to do the right thing, you are regarded as a villain. In my view, the actions of those that have launched an attack on the honorable minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development are nothing but greedy, selfish and against the interest of the country.
If this is not the case, how could one explain a situation where doing the right and putting the interest of the country has become a crime as propagated by the earlier beneficiaries on the N-Power programme. This is a sad tale, and I am glad that someone has decided to change the narrative, not minding the series of coordinated attacks on her.
It must be stated and expressly so that the N-Power initiative is for the generality of Nigerians and not for a few, so seeing it as a birthright is phenomenally wrong in all ramification. This much these set of greedy fellows must come to terms with. It is also unimaginable considering the fact that Nigeria boasts of one of the highest youthful populations in the world.
I think rejigging the N-Power scheme to bring in new people on board is not only a welcome development; it is also an act of purposefulness in a bid to address some of the challenges facing the country.
If only Nigerians would understand that the revised N-Power scheme would run for six months – one year depending on the category. According to available information on the N-Power Scheme website, N-Agro, N-Build, N-Creative and N-Tech will run for six months (with two batches a year), the N-Teach and N-Health part of the programme will run for one year. For the six month programmes, three months will be used for training beneficiaries, while the other three months will be used for mentorship and attachment to partners and stakeholders.
This is indeed brilliant in the sense that more youths would have the opportunity to be enrolled in the scheme in the bid to better their lives, unlike in times past where the programme ran for a duration of 2 years, thereby depriving other qualified candidates the opportunity to benefit from this laudable initiative.
If not for anything, the honorable minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster management and Social Development has indeed justified the confidence reposed in her by Mr. President to ensure rapid and meaningful implementation of the various social intervention programmes of the federal government.
The proposed introduction of the Batch C under the scheme must go as planned because it is not only laudable; it is in the overall interest of the country that would be of immense benefit to the teeming youths in the country because over 400,000 new beneficiaries would be admitted into the programme in the following order: 200,000 beneficiaries into the N-Power Agro programme, 80,000 into the N-Power Teach Programme, 40,000 into the N-Health Programme, and 80,000 into the N-Power Build, Creative and Tech categories.
I commend the minister in this regard and encourage her not to relent in her valuable service to the country. And those that think that they have a birthright to stay put for life in the N-Power scheme should have a rethink and retrace their steps. It is expected that the knowledge and experience garnered over 40 months should be put to use for the benefit of the country.
The N-Power C project must go ahead as planned. The minister must not back down despite the avalanche of attack on her person so long the overarching objective is ensuring that more youths are accommodated in the scheme. This is what Nigeria needs, and our support for the likes of Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq should be unflinching.
Ochonu is an unemployed youth and wrote this piece from Makurdi, Benue State.