THE PENSIONABLE ENTREPRENEUR AND THE N-EXIT CBN LOAN OFFER The transparency recorded in the recruitment system of the  pioneer set of the Npower programme (Batch A and B) spells a paradigm shift  from the cultural high wire connection recruitment style (man know man). The narrative  of sacrificing meritocracy on the altar of mediocrity has chattered hopes of job seekers in the country but the ethnic, religious and political neutrality implored  in the  Npower recruitment process  is a beckon of hope to prospective job hunters in the country.


            Despite the laudable achievements recorded in the programme , it can be unequivocally stated that  it was  not devoid of loopholes that need to be expediently cemented. Prior to the impromptu exit period of Batch A and B set of the programme which officially took place on June 30th and  31st July, 2020 respectively, a seismic pool of irregularities can be attested to have almost  marred the  programme. These lapses were eloquently manifested following the transfer of the programme from the office of the vice President , Prof. Yemi Osibanjo under the supervision of Mr Afolabi Imoukhuede, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on job creation   to a newly birthed Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHDS), headed by  Sadiya Umaru Farouq.
Although some of  the hiccups were unavoidable, precipitated by the fact that data of the beneficiaries needed to be moved to the data base of the Ministry which was an obvious sign of bureaucratic bottlenecks, it can also be argued that some of these setbacks were deliberate and a function of administrative incompetence. The basic drawbacks experienced were delay in stipend payment, flagging off of accounts by the new payment source, Backlog issues and the inconsistent changing of remittance  platforms to the current GIFMIS and most pressing is the issue of non issuance of device. The device was expected to be a tool to acquiring needed skill and in the absence of these devices issued unequivocally  establishes  the fact, that the very essence of the programme which is skill acquisition has been obviously defeated.

To further  worsen the scenario,  certain percentage of beneficiaries stipends was deducted for the purchase of these devices. I make bold to say that the failure of the Ministry to issue these devices as entitlements is nothing but deeply rooted exploitation.
These above x-rayed minuses that accompanied the programme obviously have  the potency of snatching the supposed deserving accolades to the APC government as the Initiators of the scheme if not addressed for the betterment  of the scheme and to the benefit of successive beneficiaries. THE PENSIONABLE ENTREPRENEUR AND THE N-EXIT CBN LOAN OFFER


Amidst the enumerated negatives recorded, a fundamental issue that continues to reverberate in the minds of the  exited Batch A and B beneficiaries of the scheme is government’s reneging   on the “Permanency Promise” which was envisaged at a time to mean an absorption of volunteers into the civil service. The permanency promise formed a major fulcrum of the APC campaign with reference to the 2019 General elections.
Many abreast with trends of event will affirm the fact that argumentative bifurcations emanated as for in support or against the permanency drive. It can be argued that permanency was not part of the legal arrangement in reference to the terms and conditions surrounding the Npower programme. It was a two year stipulated period of service agreement  entered by beneficiaries.
However,  the government knowing fully well that the permanency drive was infeasible judging by plurality of  economic indices decided to politicise the programme by making such an euphoria promise for the attainment of  their unscrupulous and egocentric objectives. Thus capitalising on the gullibility of beneficiaries which erupted from desperation in their aspirations for their financial  advancement and  tricking them into investing their hopes and emotions on the permanency promise which  can be referred to as the act of heightened  deception. THE PENSIONABLE ENTREPRENEUR AND THE N-EXIT CBN LOAN OFFER
The above is aggravated  by the fact that government was too speedy in distancing itself  from the permanency promise even when there are footages to buttress this point. This act by the government signals a lack of sincerity of purpose and political willingness in fulfilling electioneering /campaign promises especially when it has to do with job creation. This continues to repose lack of confidence of the populace on the government for being unfaithful   in actualising promises which obviously defines the DNA of an average Nigerian politician.  Paying of lip service has assumed a cultural dimension born from the debilitating behavioural pattern of administrators. This obviously  can no longer be condoned as a politicking strategy attributed to the fact that such act  has constituted a rot to the Nigerian political and administrative process.
At this juncture it becomes pertinent to have an  explicit  assessment  of some of the pluses tied to the scheme with emphasis on recent developments driven towards striking an equilibrium in this analogy.
Despite some of the constraints encountered, government on its part has decided to look the way of entrepreneurship as a best exit option for exited beneficiaries which also aligns with the objectives of the Npower programme (skill acquisition ). An alternative to permanency has been provided and that is the N-exit CBN loan offer. A laudable drive that conforms with the 21st century economic development pattern (entrepreneurship). Entrepreneurship has been confirmed   to be the spark plug of modern economies considered a veritable  tool in inducing economic greatness especially in countries like Nigeria where white collar jobs have convincingly  gone into extinction.
Examining  some of the economic dynamics brought to the fore by the outbreak of the covid19 pandemic such as Job losses and salary cuts, seeking for white collar jobs is almost near impossible and for those who have it, it means nothing order than corporate slavery and a license to perpetual poverty (Paper mill certifications).
There is this large obnoxious preference for white collar jobs because of its alluring misconstrued  benefit of being pensionable and guarantee to loan  access. This is premised on the illusion that pension is like  a free fund set aside to fall back on at old age after retirement from active service. This perception calls for thorough enlightenment in settling the definitional quandary tied to the concept of “Pension “. These under listed questions will help affirm the reality tied to this perception :
1)How many civil servants that meritoriously served will get to retirement age due to underlining factors such  as  death or retrenchment?
2)How many civil servants actually have access to their pension fund after retirement ?. We cannot in a hurry forget the endless queue and protest by neglected pensioners in the country. Also issues of lack of effective management of pension fund ranging from  matters of corruption,  and policy inconsistencies account for a dysfunctional pension system in the country.
*THE PENSIONABLE ENTREPRENEUR:* pension is not a free fund as perceived by many. It is a calculated percentage of an employees emolument  majorly 50% merged with a contribution of a percentage of 7.5 by the employer as obtainable in  the current Contribution Pension Scheme (CPS) operational in Nigeria. The metamorphosis of one pension scheme to another e.g from the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS ) to the Contributory Pension Scheme( CPS) were to address security issues (institutional and structural dysfunctions ) that accompanied the Nigeria pension system that posed some short term  and long term pyrrhic  gains.
As a private sector worker or a full time *ENTREPRENEUR*, one can create a viable pension framework for him or herself as social security that can be effectively managed and accessible at retirement age.
Most enterpreurship ventures survive on loans of which the N-exit initiative is no exception, aimed at enabling economic self sufficiency for the disengaged  beneficiaries . since the outbreak of covid19, several loan opportunities such as the NYIF, SMEDAN, Business Survival Funde.t.c have been rolled out by the Federal government as a coping strategy to cushion the effect of covid19 pandemic. Leveraging on  this golden opportunity (N-exit CBN loan) to create a viable pension system geared towards ensuring social security in form of pension requires a prudent investment and savings culture. It is speculated that the sum of #650,000-#3,000,000 will be given to exited beneficiaries as loan for entrepreneurial investments. The question is how can beneficiaries ensure an effective loan repayment system and to make a future out of such investment opportunities  ?. The formula to actualise this is anchored on the under listed measures :
*Business Idea*:Having a business blue print  that is feasible and aligns with the speculated sum to be disbursed as the loan offer. It goes beyond the usual buying and selling entrepreneurship style but that which  embraces a large spectrum  of enterprises fashioned along innovative and inventive lines  that can attract sponsorship by interested parties. A major factor to take into cognisance is resource distribution for the actualisation of ones business goals. Having a financial blind spot breeds unpleasant outcomes.
*Business plan*:Have a business plan scrutinised by experts, mentors  in the venture one has chosen to go into. It takes care of a lot of factors such as business type, resource requirements and allocations e.t.c. this is geared towards avoiding unpleasant surprises that may manifest in form of business collapse, wrong investments and strangulated  profits.
 *Business Registration*: Get your business name registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). Even if this does not come up as a quintessential to securing  the N-exit loan, it can be a tool for securing future loans e.g  the AGSMEIS, Anchor Borrowers Programme (ADP), MSMEDF, Creative Financing Initiative (CIFI loan) and CBN Healthcare Research and Development grants aimed at business  advancement.
*Bank Account Upgrade*: Drawing from past experiences with particular reference to the Civid19 loan disbursement, certain funds paid into the beneficiaries account bounced back due to restrictions on the amount of money that such accounts can accommodate. It is advisable that prospective N-exit beneficiaries having restrictions in their bank  account to go for an upgrade to avoid failed  transactions during loan disbursement.
*Partnership*: According to Donald Trump, in his best selling books titled “Think like a Champion”, he  established the fact that not everyone is an entrepreneur and not all can also function as a worker in the corporate world. It is understandable  that some of the exited beneficiaries are not desirous ending up as business owners as they lack necessary business acumen  but in the absence of a white collar job as earlier promised, many are forced to embrace the N-exit CBN loan option. This situation obviously will give room for wrong investments if not properly guided. To avoid issues of business collapse capable of triggering loan repayment default, business partnership is called for. This entails  a collaboration with colleagues that are grounded in business to pull resources together with agreement on percentage for partners on how profit can be generated and appropriated.
*Loan Repayment*: for every loan there must be terms and conditions attached to make such a loan consensual by borrowers. This is one of the areas the N-exit loan can be faulted as beneficiaries have obviously entered into a blind agreement without clearly specifying the terms and conditions of the loan. It neglects basic lineaments such as loan amount, repayment period and interest rate. It is advisable when the loan is disbursed, a certain percentage of it should be set aside especially if such a loan requires instantaneous repayment and not a moratorium. It can be assumed  that  an amount that can service the loan for a period of six months can be set aside while struggling to invest and make profits in the start up days. This modality will cushion  against loan default due to wrong investment or profit challenges that could also lead to loan evasion.
Unfortunately, loan evasion is almost near impossible due to the Global Standing Instruction (GSI) banking  policy , implemented on August 1, 2020  as  introduced by the Apex bank ( CBN). It is a policy  designed to reducing the burden of nonperforming loans and lighten lenders risk management cost, using modality  such as the  deduction of loan from all accounts linked to the borrower’s BVN.
*Investment of Profit for pension purpose **: As business strives to gain momentum, a certain percentage of profits can be set aside as savings for pension purpose which can be tagged **Individual Retirement Savings  Plan**. A special bank account can be opened for this purpose. This savings can be invested into myriad of investment options such as  fix deposits, shares, gold , crude oil, Real estates e.t.c. aimed at creating a multiple passive stream of income. This requires a sense of discipline to maintain consistency and serve as a form of financial savvy at old age.  This should be prioritised  because even pension framework on government scale is used for savings and investment purposes for years before remitting a  fraction to retirees as pension. The components of the CPS such as the Retirement Savings Account  (RSA) that stipulates that no contribution made as pension can be withdrawn by an employee before his or her retirement and the Pension Fund Administration ( PFA)  which takes care of pension fund investments is a proof that a solid savings and investment culture  can guarantee creating of a formidable pension framework.   So why cant an entrepreneur also personally save and invest to guarantee  his or social security to prevent old age vulnerability and impoverishment  ?.
 Besides, for fear of reckless spendings since investment is to be under  personal control (entrepreneur’s supervision) as recommended here, the private sector also has its pension framework that entrepreneurs can key into in form of investments. The very essence is to have fund accessible at oldage when one may not be physically capacitated  to go about his or her business ventures just as obtainable in the Government sector. A formidable pension system as repeatedly visited in the discuss, unveils the fact that  individual security as an entrepreneur guarantees reduction in old age poverty with attendant effects on their dependents. The strategies encoded in this discuss is not applicable to the N-exit beneficiaries but relevant to all entrepreneurs who aspire to live a financial stress free life at retirement from active business.
The above listed strategies account for the success story  of world bourgeois such as Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, Bill Gate of Microsoft, Warren Buffet (wizard of Omaha) and at regional level, Alhaji Alinko Dangote e.t.c.
The N-exit offer can in brevity be tagged the approach in the right direction as it is a cavernous roadmap and a transitioning into entrepreneurship which has been empirically proven to mean the driver of modern economies. Producing business Generals (CEO) can be actualised through this medium aimed at setting the country on a path of a  capitalistic economy.  This modality has the twin benefits of employment creation and the reduction of job creation burden  on the government. It paves way for public and private sector partnership in the business of job creation,  thus causing a deflation in the ballooning unemployment rate in the country.  The multiplier effect can be horoscope from the angle of having the potency of poverty reduction with resultant effect anchored on curbing youth restiveness and security decrepitude which are social evils bedeviling the nation.
The Npower exited  beneficiaries are  of high expectation that the government will be faithful in fulfilling their own part of the bargain as promised with reference to the N-exit loan disbursement and that it should be actualised within a stipulated timeframe.  A shortfall of this will in no doubt breed distrust and  grievances  amongst stakeholders which may not mean well for the continuity of the Npower programme. Beneficiaries are advised to go into their proposed ventures with a sense of determination, tenacity and commitment as these are veritable tools in actualising success in all ramifications of life. THE PENSIONABLE ENTREPRENEUR AND THE N-EXIT CBN LOAN OFFER
Conclusively, the strong appetite for white collar jobs by Nigerian youths due to their pensionable  and loan accessibility state should be quenched because just as obtainable in the Government sector, an entrepreneur can still be pensionable through an effective and savings framework as analysed  and have access to loans with their CAC from the CBN or cooperative Societies.
Uwode Eseoghene Josephine.

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