To start work Dec 1; part of 500,000-job scheme
Employees to work as teachers, agric, health workers
Organised labour, NUT hail govt’s efforts
By Victor Ahiuma-Young, Levinus Nwabughiogu & Dayo Adesulu
ABUJA—President Muhammadu Buhari’s 500,000 job intervention programme for unemployed graduates has finally kicked off, with successful applicants commencing work on December 1, 2016.
The programme is in line with the 2015 election campaign promises of ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to provide jobs for teeming unemployed youths in the country.
The fulfilment is, however, coming precisely one year and seven months after the administration came on stream.
The project has had several hiccups, which elicited doubts in many Nigerians about its practicability.
This persisted until the Office of the Vice President where the project is domiciled, announced that it was factored into the 2016 national budget signed into law by President Buhari on May 6, 2016.
To this end, a statement from the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s office yesterday stated that “all is now set for the deployment of 200,000 unemployed graduates selected in the first batch of the Buhari administration’s plan to hire half a million Nigerians.”
Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, reacted swiftly, commending the government for matching words with action but warned that those engaged to teach in schools should be right professionals.
This is even as Organised Labour hailed the Federal Government’s efforts, saying any programme that could take such huge number of youths off the streets should be supported.
Meanwhile, unveiling details of the programme in the statement from the Vice President’s office, government stated that the names of the selected 200,000 had been sent to state governments and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, who would deploy them to assignments in various communities.
According to the statement, the names will also be published this week on the N-Power internet portal, while participants will start receiving SMS messages informing them of their selection from today, even as the Federal Government congratulated the successful candidates.
The statement read in part: “State governments and the FCT are also encouraged to post the names of the successful first batch applicants in their local government areas, while there would be further public announcements.
“Between now and the end of the month, the states and the FCT would be engaged in deploying the graduates who would formally start working and earning their stipends on December 1, 2016.
“Of the 200,000 first batch, 150,000 of them would teach, 30,000 would work in the agric sector and 20,000 in healthcare delivery, covering the three specific programme assignments.
“The N-Power Volunteer Corps is an expression of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to invest in the human capital development of Nigerian citizens, particularly our young people.
“The N-Power programmme is also an innovative means to enhance ailing public services in the area of basic education and primary healthcare.
“Also in the agric sector, it is aimed at achieving self-sufficiency by giving our farmers relevant advisory services.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria, hereby, congratulates all 200,000 successful applicants in the first batch, and they are encouraged to take this opportunity seriously by learning the skills that will brighten their future. They are also implored to serve their communities with commitment and dedication.
“For those who have not been selected, there is a waiting list based on the total number of applicants, and subsequent batches will absorb more of the qualified applicants.
“All together, the N-Power will engage and train 500,000 young unemployed graduates. It is a paid volunteering programme of a 2-year duration that engages graduates in their immediate communities, where they will assist in improving the inadequacies in the education, health, and agriculture sectors.
“The 500,000 graduates under the N-Power Corps programme will be trained in skills that will enable them exit after two years to economically viable job and business opportunities.
“As part of the programme, the participants would own tablets that will contain information necessary for their specific engagements, as well as information for their continuous training and developments.
“Participants will be provided teaching, instructional, and advisory solutions in four main focus areas, and will be paid a monthly stipend of N30,000 during the programme.
“The four main focus areas are in basic education, agriculture extension services, public health and community education (civic and adult education).
“Besides the N-Power programme for undergraduates, there are other schemes for non-graduates. These are: N-Power Knowledge, which would select 25,000 young Nigerians and N-Power Build 75,000, all of whom shall be trained and paid during the duration of the scheme.
Criteria for selection
Explaining the criteria used in selecting the applicants, spokesman to the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande said the states with least number of application were also given a mark up, while there was a 40 per cent promotional consideration.
These were the yardsticks used in allocating the number of jobs to states.
Speaking to Vanguard last night, Akande said the details of the allocation to states would be made public in due course.
He said: “There are three criteria. Number one is the number of applications that come from each state. Forty per cent of the number selected was based on the shared number of application per state.
“They took 40 percent across board based on the shared number of the applications. Then the rest was based on North, East consideration.
‘’We gave additional numbers to the states in the North-East and then the final consideration is for the state that has least number of applicants.
“The state where there were not enough people applying, in order to encourage the states, we had to give them additional mark up.
“The numbers are not equal. You are going to have different numbers per state because we thought that these criteria were in fairness to the circumstances. You consider the shared number of states, the north east situation and the states that have least number of applicants. ‘’
Right move, says NUT boss
Reacting to the development, President, Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, Mr Michael Alogba-Olukoya, lauded the initiative, saying it was a right step in the right direction.
‘’The news to employ 200,000 unemployed graduates as teachers is a right step in the right direction. It is a mission coming to reality. We want to appreciate the government.’’
He, however warned the Federal Government to ensure that the right people were employed into the teaching profession.
‘’They should try to make sure that it is only open for those that are professionals, so that they can add value to the system. That is my comment for now.’’
Asked what remuneration was expected from the government, Olukoya allayed fears of the package, adding that the government had told the unemployed graduates their salaries.
‘’Let us start from somewhere, because the government had announced what they will pay before,’’ he said.
In its reaction, Organised Labour yesterday lauded the Federal Government for taking as many as 200,000 unemployed youth off the streets, stressing that the effort should be supported by all and sundry.
General Secretary of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, who spoke for Organised Labour, however, said it was not jobs for the boys, contending that Nigerians would like to know the process and criteria used for the recruitment.
According to him, there have been concerns over transparency of the process since the government announced its plans to recruit.
“If they are ready to deploy, it means they have recruited. We hope the selection process was transparent and not just jobs for the boys.
‘’Nevertheless, any programme that can take 200,000 youths off the streets is commendable, welcome, and supported.”