Uncertain Looms For 500,000 Disengaged N-Power Beneficiaries (Opinion)

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By Mubarak Ekute

The National Social Investments Programmes (NSIP) of the Federal Government of Nigeria was initiated in 2016 to tackle poverty and hunger across the country with programs such as school feeding and conditional cash transfer among others.

For over four years, the programme 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 with beneficiaries handpicked from all part of the country.
Though the scheme has brought succor to many beneficiaries, its abrupt halt last month by the federal government came as a rude shock.

Beneficiaries of the social investment scheme have expressed dissatisfaction over the notice of disengagement from the scheme that shook their heels and irregularities that marred the none payment of their take home stipends for last few months.

The pronouncement of the disengagement of hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries was released by the Minister of Humanitarian and Natural Disaster, Hajiya. Sadiya Umar Faruq.

“As we battle the pandemic, it is our duty as public servants in government to intervene where needed by continuing to provide the lifeline for continuity as government continues its acceleration towards providing an enabling environment for businesses to create sustainable jobs. This is the major reason why we have commenced enrollment of Batch C which is providing opportunities for more Nigerian youths to gain skills for employability and entrepreneurship” – and the reason for disengaging the existing Batch A and B beneficiaries,” she stated.

Faruq who announced the development via her twitter handle, had promised benefucuaries lasy year that the Federal government has an exit plan for the beneficiaries, a promised that has remained unfulfilled.

Some beneficiaries of the scheme have taken to social media to lamented how they were disengaged on the 30th June 2020 and yet to be paid for June which is the final Stipends.

They emphasized that the minister after igniting their hope by assuring a sustainable exit plan for them ends up disappointing them.

“We are used and dumped hopelessly,” they said while expressing their grievances.

My take on this matter us that the federal government need to come clean on what it meant by the transitioning process of the disengaged beneficiaries, what is their fate? Are they going back to the street? What does the future hold?”

These are urgent questions that begs for answers and clarity from the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management.

Some N-Power beneficiaries spanning the width of this country used the available N-Power social media platform to vent their grieviances widely. They alleged none payment by the Federal government for the months of March, April and May amidst the COVID-19 lockdown.

It is also a known fact that the entire Batch B & some Batch A beneficiaries are yet to select and receive their electronic devices that is part of the resources of the program.

Without being partial, the program seems well managed under the office of the Vice President Yemi Osibanjo than it’s present place under the Ministry of Humanitarian and Natural Disaster.

Proper recommendation is yet to find its place and we hope it does in due time for the benefit of legacy and fairness to the country.

Under the present Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the introduction of the N-power has remained the most laudable policies through which a lot of graduates have been engaged into the scheme in capacities to serve and improve the countries prospects for growth as participants of N-Teach, N-Agro, N-Tax, N-health and N-build. Hence, disengaging 500,000 beneficiaries is counter productive as it would not only worsen the unemployment situation in the country but also increase crime rate , as well as suicide cases.

In this vein, I however, urge His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Executive cabinet to look inwards for a way of permanently absorbing the
beneficiaries into full Civil Service or come up with an exit plan that will support this beneficiaries to have economic independence.

The scheme has made tremendous impacts in some key sectors of the economy such as agriculture and education. Therefore, discontinuing the participants of this programme “is ill-advised and makes no economic sense to a wider scope and goal”.

Mubarak Ekute works for the Centre For information Technology and Development (CITAD) and can be reached via
elmubarak19@gmail.com

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