FG’s N-Power Initiative: Matters Arising | Independent Newspapers Limited
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FG’s N-Power Initiative: Matters Arising

Posted: Jun 17, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


In line with its pre-election promise to create jobs, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday, 12th June 2016 launched the ‘N-Power’ empowerment initiative to create jobs for 500,000 unemployed Nigerians. Though there was an initial technical glitch leading to crashing of the N-Power application portal, this was later solved and within 36 hours of launching, the portal had received over 400,000 successful applications. This is definitely a step in the right direction, following the provision of 500 billion naira for the programme in the recently signed 2016 Appropriation Law.

However some questions that quickly strike our mind are Why N-Power and not YouWin? And what is the guarantee of continuity of this scheme if there is a change of government? It appears that for each successive government, there must be a new job creation scheme. We have had several employment schemes changed by successive governments and even beneficiaries of such schemes thrown out of jobs after the initiating government has left power. With several billions of Naira spent by Jonathan Goodluck’s administration, we would have expected continuity of the YouWin Scheme. Unless this administration backs this initiative with an Act of the Parliament, it might just end up like previous employment schemes.

Besides, providing jobs for 500,000 Nigerians among the 9.5 million unemployed Nigerians -excluding another 14.4m Nigerians who are underemployed-, is like a drop of water in the ocean.  Only recently the National Bureau of Statistics noted that unemployment rate reached a six-year high of 12.1% in March 2016 from 10.4% in the last quarter of 2015.  We hope that this is just the first phase, otherwise it would be difficult to trust this administration to deliver on its pre-election promise of job creation.

It also brings cause for concern that there is age limit of 35 years on those who can apply for job on the N-Power portal, thereby technically disqualifying those above that age. This is disturbing because unemployment rate is measured by the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labour force, and the labour force is made up of those within the age bracket of 18-65 years! Many of those above 35 years and below 65 years have never been actively engaged, so what happens to them? We also wonder what will happen to the participants after the two-year period. Will they be given some sort of loan or seed capital to start on their own? How good will the remuneration be and how regular? These are questions begging for answers.

While welcoming the N-Power initiative, it is necessary that the implementation is closely monitored from recruitment, training, deployment, to impact assessment. We hope that candidates will be recruited strictly on merit and not on partisanship or ‘who you know’ basis. It is also expected that the country will not record another fiasco during the selection/testing process like it happened during the last Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) recruitment exercise, which claimed so many lives.

With teachers, agricultural extension advisers, healthcare assistants, civic and adult education instructors to be covered in this phase of the initiative, particular emphasis should be placed on the use of up-to-date training materials so as to ensure that the beneficiaries are well equipped to deliver true value to the economy. One of the major problems in the Agricultural sector has been the vulnerability of farm produce to pests and diseases, due to poor farming technique, lack of knowledge and poor governmental support. This initiative, hopefully should address this, by bridging the  “disconnect’ between the Agricultural Research Institutes and the practitioners on the field.

We are not sure how the impact of this initiative is going to be measured one or two years down the line, but it is important that this is done as it would assist the Federal Government in determining which sector to focus more attention in the next phase of the N-Power initiative, as well as the value added by the participants.

As we continue to monitor the process, it is expected that the N-Power programme would reduce unemployment and consequently, crime rate in the country.