By Nneka Ikem
Over the years, many Nigerians have been left unemployed as they continue to struggle for survival.
This is not because they are not mentally fit or physically qualified to tie down a job and eke out a living to support themselves and their significant others, but because successive governments have in the past not lived up to their promises of job and wealth creation.
Apart from the monotonous employment routine of the various ministries and parastatals which has turned out to be inadequate in catering for the ever-increasing population of Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 35, no serious efforts were made in the past to open up other veritable means for employment opportunities.
These tasks have been left to the private sector while the government acted as if all was well. No wonder, many Nigerians have given up to seek greener pasture in other countries.
While battling with the attendant brain drain and an unproductive population, the creative and manufacturing industries have been the worst hit in the process, turning Nigeria into a consuming economy.
Due to the lip service paid to electoral promises by previous administrations, many were not really convinced about President Muhammadu Buhari’s promises of addressing the problem of unemployment while campaigning in 2015.
But true to his words, immediately he was sworn in, efforts were made to fulfill his 2015 electoral promise on job creation for Nigerian youths which overtime gave birth to N-Power scheme.
Through the N-power programme, 500,000 jobs have been created in farming, agro-processing, financial literacy, communication, digital skills amongst a host of others.
No wonder, in the past one year, the effect on the economy has been so drastic with the agricultural sector receiving a major boost and the capacity of the nation to feed her-self.
According to statistics, rice importation has dropped by 95% amongst other agricultural produce, hence the nation’s ability to be self-sustaining even before the Covid-19 global lockdown.
Deep thoughts on how Nigeria would have been able to cope with the crippling effects of COVID-19, its attendant economic implications as well as inflation in prices of foodstuff as a result of scarcity reverberate.
Under the watch of the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, the government has stepped up effort in ensuring that more Nigerians benefit from this laudable project.
According to recent statistics released, about 109,823 beneficiaries of the N-Power programme have now started their own businesses which represent about 22% of the 500,000 Nigerians that have benefited from this programme since its inception.
It means that the government has not only succeeded in creating jobs for its citizens but has also created more employers of labour.
It is reassuring to know that the Buhari-led administration through the ministry, has targeted 100 million Nigerians in the next 10 years through the creation of productive opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment.
No wonder, thousands of Nigerians on Wednesday July 29, 2020, held a ‘Thank You Rally’ march to the Presidential Villa over the success of the N-Power scheme and other Social Intervention Programmes in the country which were further highlighted during the COVID-19 lockdown.
N- Power beneficiaries were drawn from across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT expressed their gratitude for a job well done in alleviating poverty, creating economic opportunities and jobs.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq was singled out for her numerous interventions targeted at the vulnerable and less privileged groups in the country which has gone a long way in giving everybody a sense of belonging after many years of neglect.
Apart from the N-Power scheme, Farouq has been able to kick start the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), National Cash Transfer Programme (NCTP) and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
The National Home Grown School Feeding Programme has so far catered for over 9 million pupils in 24 states across Nigeria while also creating additional 100,000 jobs for those in the hospitality business.
It is on record that the implementation of the National Cash Transfer Programme introduced to cushion the economic effect of the COVID-19 lockdown has also recorded a huge success.
20,000 naira was distributed across 20 states in the 6 geo-political zones while 297,973 caregivers have also been trained by 2,495 Community Facilitators.
The minister has shown a deep understanding of the needs of the people while introducing new innovations to meet the unique everyday challenges of Nigerians.
She has proven to be a leader with the interest of the people at heart and a deep sense of commitment to the entrenchment of sustainable growth and development through laudable programs targeted at the grassroots and rural communities.
As part of plans for post-COVID-19 life, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development recently announced the commencement of enrolment for the batch C of the N-Power program.
So far, over 3 million applications have been received.
To further highlight the landmark achievements of the ministry, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari in his Democracy Day broadcast on June 12, 2020, took time out to commend the ministry and its programmes as he noted that the Social Investment Programmes of the administration has continued to be a model to other nations.
As part of plans for life post-COVID-19, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development recently announced the commencement of enrolment for the batch C of the N-Power program.
So far, over 5 million applications have been received for the next batch to be evenly distributed across the 774 local governments in Nigeria.
Despite the huge achievements recorded by the Ministry in the last one year, we must not be carried away and forget the daunting task of alleviating poverty, stemming unemployment rate as well as improving the living standards of Nigerians
However, Nigerians should be rest assured that if this level of consistency can be maintained under the visionary leadership of Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, there will be light at the end of the tunnel.