Before now those seeking employment under federal government spent million to get employ as a civil servant but with the Npower programme is a different ball game, an initiative of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration. It was birthed in the year 2016, with employ-ability capacity to accommodate over 500,000 unemployed Nigerian Youths, placed on a monthly stipend of #30,000 and other enticing benefits accrue to beneficiaries of the scheme.
It is an all embracing scheme as it absorbs youths irrespective of academic qualifications and choice to get empowered in the areas of Teaching (N-teach), Health (N-Health), Agriculture (N-Agro), Taxation (N-Tax), N-build, N-Tech and N-creativity.
The beauty of the scheme is embedded in the transparency at the manner in which the recruitment process was and is being conducted. Its a breaking of history from the cultural High wire connection (Man-know-man) pattern of conducting recruitments from time immemorial.
The attractiveness of the scheme can also be attributed to bringing succour to the hearts of many Nigerian graduates who before now had no meaningful source of livelihood but at present smile to the banks, being paid as at when due.The scheme is also viewed as a palliative measure, aiding in decongesting an already saturated labour market.
With the decay in the educational system that breeds unemployable graduates , conspicuously speaking, the Npower beneficiaries possess enhanced employ-ability status through skills acquired in the programme. This makes them fit into parastatals in any capacity they may be called to serve in the future.
Currently, the level of impact created by Npower beneficiaries in various sectors is attested to have filled man power gaps, contrary to the unpopular speculation labelling the scheme as a mare waste of public coffer.
On the above premise, one can establish the fact that Mr President deserves an heavy weight applause for this life transforming Npower initiative with the cognomen N-Baba.
Having taken X-ray of the pluses that accompany the scheme, it becomes unequivocally necessary to address some shortcomings associated with the process, as there is always two sides to a coin.
A fundamental issue that has generated damning indictment and cess pool anger by the 2016 beneficiaries is the ambiguous and perceived non sustainability of the proposed “Enhancement Package” for 2016 beneficiaries whose 2year contract seem to have elapsed. The enhancement was initially defined to mean a continuity of the 2016 beneficiaries on the scheme to avert being retired to the labour market.
On October 2017, Npower through its Senior Special Assistance to the President on job creation, Mr.Afolabi Imoukhede reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to retain such beneficiaries into government parastatal and the private sector base on state capacities. While this measure seems futuristic and not instantaneous, a 3month enhancement programme was proposed stretching from November 2018 which marks the official expiration date for such beneficiaries to February 2019, with a continued #30,000 monthly stipend.
The dwindling state of the enhancement package subjects beneficiaries to palpitations that the scheme may be short lived if the pendulum of power swings in the direction of the opposition come 2019 General elections.
Considering the state of the political season, characterised by proliferated menace of strike actions like the ASUU and the proposed NLC strike, the Npower beneficiaries considered a potent channel of vote garnering may be tempted to hold the government of the day to ransom by declining vote for Mr President come February 2019 Presidential Election.
The president at this point in time cannot afford to risk his 4+4=8 political formulae for any reason. Thus, it is advisable that if Mr president intends to seek support from beneficiaries, the enhancement package should be given a cut clear definition in no distant time , rather than promises of hearing from the federal government from weeks that has snowballed into months of non fulfilment.
In a nut shell, the essence of the Npower scheme can only reap full potentials if beneficiaries are financially equipped to transfer skills acquired into being pragmatically resourceful. The word “Empower” simply connotes enablement. The enablement can only be actualised if beneficiaries are exited from the scheme with “Seed capital” ( start up monies) to get established. This is a more feasible and efficacious approach with the capacity to instigating a paradigm shift from reliance on white collar jobs to entrepreneurship that drives modern economies.
The proposal to absorb some beneficiaries into government parastals base on state capacities seem very euphoria. This assertion can be aligned with the economically inviability of some states to service salaries, coupled with claims of being financially incapacitated to implement the New national Minimum wage. Beneficiaries who reason to be compensated in this manner should renege from nursing such thoughts as the permanency drive is contrary to terms and conditions entered from the inception of the programme which requires an exit from the scheme, following the expiration of their two year service time frame.
Conclusively, the issuance of Seed Capital for beneficiaries and alternatively improved stipend and elongated stay period on the scheme implemented before the 2019 elections will better define the sincerity of purpose and the sustainability of the Npower scheme. A deviation from this proposed panacea will be a pitfall of the objectives of the scheme, thus retiring such beneficiaries to the labour market, and a return to the viscous circle of poverty that stems from unemployment debacle.
The outcome of the implementation of the proposed Enhancement package for the 2016 beneficiaries is a determinant of the fate of the 2017 batch on the scheme. If the enhancement drive is not actualised, it may undoubtedly kill the morale of the 2017 batch and impede their ability to deliver assigned responsibilities maximally due to lack of motivation.