*Exited beneficiaries express concerns over continued delay to absorb them in MDAs
*Anxiety envelopes prospective enrollees over engagement
By Joseph Erunke, ABUJA
OVER one year and six months after exiting beneficiaries of batches A and B of the N-Power Scheme of its National Social Investment Programme, NSIP, the federal government is yet to formally engage new enrollees.
Also,the government is yet to absorb exited enrollees of the graduate component of the scheme into its ministries, departments and agencies, contrary to its promise before it exited the beneficiaries.
Recall that the government disengaged beneficiaries of the two batches who were engaged in 2016 and 2017 respectively, in May 2020.
Before the exit, the government, through its Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Developmen which is handling the scheme,had launched a portal for the 500,000 exited beneficiaries to apply for their exit packages.
Plans were made for the transition of the N-power batch A and B through the creation of the NEXIT portal, which would allow those who choose to sign up to access other government empowerment opportunities.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, had said discussions were also ongoing to ensure that exited and eligible N-Power beneficiaries were absorbed into government programmes.
She had tasked the exited beneficiaries to exercise more patience and await the result of her efforts.
“We have directed Focal Persons of National Social Investment Programmes in the states to submit an updated list of the exited N-Power beneficiaries that are interested in participating in the transition plans of the ministry,”she had said.
Farouq had said the “N-Power beneficiaries who have concluded the 2-year job programme will now be able to access permanent job opportunities or business prospects in line with the N-power exit strategy now activated by the Buhari administration.”
“Under the plan, 200,000 beneficiaries will be engaged as financial services operators under a Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility (SANEF) scheme operated by the Central Bank of Nigeria; over 30,000 have already been engaged as geospatial experts and enumerators in the Economic Sustainability Plan’s Mass Agric programme, while several others will have the option of benefiting from the GEEP micro-enterprise loans,”the minister had added.
According to N-Power exit strategy document, at least 200,000 former N-Power beneficiaries will be onboarded on a scheme known as the Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility (SANEF) while at least 30, 000 others would be deployed for the Mass Agric programme, a component of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), and another number will be given opportunities to improve or start new businesses under a micro-enterprise initiative.
The SANEF scheme is a project powered by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Deposit Money Banks, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems, Chattered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Licensed Mobile Money Operators, and Shared Agents with the primary objective of accelerating financial inclusion in Nigeria.
According to the plan, the project will among other things create a platform for Nigerian owned financial services companies to grow whilst empowering and creating jobs for Nigerians.
“SANEF in partnership with NSIP will onboard 200,000 N-Power graduates as SANEF agents under the approved SANEF licensed Super Agents while achieving N-Power’s objective to improve the livelihood of a critical mass of young unemployed Nigerians,”the minister had explained.
Under the scheme, the beneficiaries will be trained in different areas including customer service, transaction settlement, liquidity management, anti-money laundering, among others, while the government would facilitate the initial funding for the scheme for each beneficiary.Requirements for the SANEF programme include the N-Power certificate; Bank Verification Number; Bank account number; duly completed agent enrolment form from the operator; proof of identity, among other documents.
Vanguard observed that the beneficiaries of the first and second batches of the scheme are yet to be absorbed into government agencies just as other packages promised them are yet to be fulfilled as at press time.
Vanguard observed that the N-Power programme which pilot scheme successfully engaged over 500,000 graduates for two years,has been expanded to accommodate three core segments. This include: N-Power Volunteer Corps – the graduate programme, N-Power Build – Non graduate programme and N-Power Knowledge – Which is a non-graduate programme and embodies the N-Tech Hardware, N-Tech Software and the N-Creative training programmes (Animation and Scriptwriting).
Over five million youths,most of who are graduates,had applied to enroll in the batch C of the scheme but government had announced that it was working with a view to engaging 400,000 out of the over five million youths that applied.
President Muhammadu Buhari had later approved that the new scheme be expanded to accommodate one million beneficiaries.
While the government had focused attention on N-Knowledge programme which is focused on equipping young Nigerians with relevant skills and certification to become competent workers, innovators and entrepreneurs prepared for both the domestic and global digital job market,the graduate segment of the scheme has seemed forgotten about two year after exit of beneficiaries of the first and second batches.
An exited beneficiary who identified herself as Angela Ellah,told Vanguard they still waiting on the government to fulfill its promise of either absorbing them in its ministries, departments and agencies or soft loans to start business.
“We left the programme with excitement given that government had promised to immediately absorb us in its ministries, departments and agencies but about two years after leaving, nothing seems to be happening,we have been abandoned to our fate,”she lamented.
Ellah said she could not save money during the programme because what was being paid to her was not enough.
“I’m begging the government to look into our issue and keep to its promise. We have not been provided permanent jobs or loans as were promised. The government should see our issue as a matter of priority,”she pleaded.
On the other hand,a prospective enrollees who did not want his name in print, expressed concern over the delay in commencing the Batch C of the graduate segment of the scheme.
The 20-year old graduate of sociology from one of the federal universities,said he has been at home for three years now after his mandatory National Youth Service Corps programme.
Since I’m yet to get a permanent job, I’m looking forward to engaging myself in the N-Power scheme because the little money I saved while undertaking my NYSC programme,has been fully spent by me.
“I came to Abuja some three years ago in search of a job. Unfortunately,accommodation and feeding have taken the little money I saved while serving NYSC. Since no job has come my way yet, I’m seriously looking forward to the N-Power programme to make earns meet.
“I know I’m not alone looking forward to this because many of my friends, school mates and colleagues are also in my shoe. We meet and talk regularly. I talk to some of them on phone and each time we talk,you hear all of them saying same thing as me,”he said.