Over 500,000 beneficiaries of Nigeria’s Social Investment Programme N-Power will be left to fend for themselves as the government is set to terminate their current engagement due to irregularities.
The Spokesperson for the Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development Ministry, Rhoda Iliya said their existing engagement has contributed to the administration’s vision of lifting 100 million people out of poverty by creating opportunities to enhance the productivity of the Nigerian youth.
So far, the programme has enrolled 500,000 beneficiaries in two batches – 200,000 from Batch A in September 2016 and 300,000 from Batch B in August 2018.
Ilya also mentioned the current beneficiaries have overstayed in the programme “thereby denying other Nigerians the opportunity to access the programme and gain skills for entrepreneurship and employment”.
The beneficiaries were supposed to spend 24 months in the programme but Batch A beneficiaries have reportedly spent over 40 months.
According to Salisu Na’inna Danbatta, the Special Adviser on Media to the minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development, Sadiya Farouq; “Both batches will soon be terminated according to the press release for the reasons given in the press release”.
Several beneficiaries in Lagos told news sources that there were rumours that Batch A would be relieved any time soon, after which Batch would follow.
The Federal Government of Nigeria designed the N-power programme to drastically reduce youth unemployment. The focus is to provide young graduates and non-graduates with the tools, skills and livelihood to enable them advance from unemployment to employment.
However, there are reports that the N-power beneficiaries have not been pleased with the administration of the programme since the initial management was transferred to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in 2019. Prior to this, SIPs were initially coordinated by a committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osibanjo. Through a group named the 36-states N-power Representatives Forum, the beneficiaries said in an open letter to President Buhari on the 22nd of May, said that the Minister had inflicted enough pain on them since the programme was transferred to her ministry. They urged Buhari to replace Farouq with someone more ‘competent, youth-friendly and proactive’.
The group also alleged that the two batches of the graduate category have experienced frequent late payment of monthly stipend compared to when the programme was under the Vice President’s Office.