There is palpable anxiety among N-Power beneficiaries over the next step the federal government may take on one of its major social investment programme, the N-Power scheme.
There are fears that the government may decide to bring an end to the tenure of about 500,000 beneficiaries currently engaged in the scheme.
The N-Power scheme 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. Each batch is expected to be in the system for only two years (24 months) according to the original design of the scheme. Batch A beneficiaries have spent over 40 months.
Both batches are still working in the system and earning benefits, but have been experiencing frequent delays before the payments are effected.
The fears that these beneficiaries may soon be forced to look elsewhere for their means of livelihood were heightened after the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq disclosed plans by the federal government to streamline the N-Power scheme.
The Minister noted that the streamline will be done in order to provide greater efficiency in the scheme and provide more opportunities for Nigerians.
Hajia Farouq disclosed that details of the streamlining activities will be revealed after May stipend has been paid to beneficiaries.
This development was revealed on Saturday in a statement from the ministry’s deputy director of information, Rhoda Illiya, where the minister said: “We are working hard to streamline the programme for greater efficiency and to provide opportunities for more Nigerian youths. Details will be provided as soon May stipend has been paid.”
Again, Salisu Na’inna Danbatta, the special adviser on media to the minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development Sadiya Farouq was quoted by Guardian as saying “both batches will soon be terminated according to the (press) release for the reasons given in the (press) release.”
Should the dismissal of these beneficiaries go ahead as feared, another 500,000 Nigerians may be rendered jobless, compounding the already bad unemployment figures in the country.
The last official figures put the unemployment rate in Nigeria at 23.1%.
The N-Power scheme is a social intervention scheme introduced in 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari, as a two-year programme for graduate and non-graduate Nigerians between the ages of 18-35.
The beneficiaries enjoy N30, 000 monthly stipend, and devices during the duration of their stay in the scheme in exchange for services offered including teaching, agric extension services, health, etc.