DISENGAGEMENT OF 500,000 NPOWER BENEFICIARIES AND ISSUES SURROUNDING

BY:UWODE E.JOSEPHINE

EMAIL:jojoamaniarea@gmail.com

28/05/2020

Npower beneficiaries and issues surrounding High-level palpitation pervades the souls and minds of Npower beneficiaries following the horrific disclosure on the soon to be disengagement of 500,000 beneficiaries as made public by Salisu Ma’inna Daubatta, the Media Aide to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development. This pronouncement has also generated media buzz.

Npower beneficiaries and issues surrounding

 

Be it as it may seem, I have made the extrapolation long ago that the proposed permanency drive as an exit option for beneficiaries was a fantasy built of self-delusion. The rationale for this assertion is encapsulated in the article I published on 09/03/2020 with the theme “Permanency, not a Feasible Exit Package for Npower Beneficiaries”.

As contained in the aforementioned article, permanency deal cannot be honored because it appears to be more of a privilege rather than a right which was birthed following agitations by beneficiaries to avoid being retired into an already saturated labour market. Although the permanency drive seems very enticing and mind-blowing, existing economic realities and political conditions define it as euphoria, with reasons x-rayed in the above-mentioned article. This obviously suggests that permanency should be overruled from the equation of exit options.

However, I am forced to take a U-turn on my opinions on exit measures that initially called for a plea of consideration rather than a must-do. This is due to the inhuman approach given to the program emanating from issues of gross incompetence since it was transferred from the office of the Vice President Yemi Osibanjo to a new ministry headed by Sadiya Umar Farouq.

Since the assumption of office by Sadiya Farooq, events have assumed a dramatic turn that is glaringly aimed at defeating the very essence of the Npower initiative. Crystal is clear of such anomalies capable of jeopardizing the programme is the incessant delays of stipends criminally attributed to technical issues and change in payment platforms. This has in no small measure led to heightened frustration among beneficiaries who sometimes have to work for close to 45days before getting their monthly entitlement. This devastating situation has led to the call for the resignation of the minister by beneficiaries and well-meaning Nigerians.

One cannot also claim oblivion that matters of entitlements have been infringed upon. One such is the continuous silence on the issuance of the device to the Batch B category of the programme. The mind bugging question this scenario puts before us is what happened to the jumbo Naira sum budgeted for the purchase of the Npower devices with the contract awarded to some technological companies for purchase and issuance?. This is an obvious case of corruption at its peak and its unfortunate that this matter has been swept under the carpet.

The retrenchment of 500,000 beneficiaries without adequate compensation hinged on the premise that beneficiaries have overstayed on the programme is a biased and adulterated rational.

The extension of the Batch A beneficiaries on the programme is a function of the political dimension given to the programme by the present-day administration.
It can be recalled that the proposed enhancement programme spanned over the stipulated period of six months and was later licensed to mean a political instrument of vote-seeking. We cannot forget the scenario that brought about the slogan “vote APC and get Permanency” which rang the bell during the 2019 General elections, with a pool of beneficiaries converging at campaign grounds of the APC.

If permanency cannot survive, all entitlements such as stipends and device collections should be settled before jumping in a hurry into existing beneficiaries.

Also, proposed transition measures such as Data Beaver, community policing, GEEP loans have been earlier on flagged off by the government to give reassurance that beneficiaries are not to be exited into the street to avoid a boom of the unemployment rate.

Having carried out a feasibility study, it has become convincingly clear that permanency is not feasible, as such entrepreneurial measures in the form of exit package (grants and loans) should be given due consideration.

Grants or soft loans ranging from Half a million Naira have the potency of empowering beneficiaries who will in turn empower a pool of unemployed graduates. This will also aid in reducing the burden of job creation on the government and redefine the process of curtailing the ballooning unemployment debacle to mean a public and private sector partnership. Entrepreneurship is the spark plug of modern economies that have led to a paradigm shift from white-collar jobs as obtainable in developed societies.

Most government utterances on exit options have weighted towards entrepreneurship. an example of such is the government’s continuous echoing for beneficiaries to make savings out of the #30,000 monthly stipend. As easy this may sound, it is pragmatically a failure because the pittance called stipends can barely take care of one’s monthly needs linked to the inflation rate that connotes a high cost of living.

Coupled with the above, seeking alternative survival means have been near almost impossible following the government’s directive to ensure strict monitoring of beneficiaries at their places of primary Assignments (PPA). This has in all sincerity impeded the availability of time to engage in the intensified job search.

Not forgetting also, there have been agitations long before now by political opponents for the termination of the Npower programme, perceived to be a mere waste of national resources and the speculation that most beneficiaries do not report to work. This is an obvious signal of the politicization of issues surrounding the Npower.

Correcting this obnoxious impression necessitates a walk into history. The civil service is characterized by the activities of ghost workers and no one has called for the total shutdown of the civil service on that premise rather sanitizing it through proper scrutiny and introduction of policies have been a way out of the woods. An example is the IPPIS approach in the university system. The same modality should be employed in addressing suspected cases of nepotism in the Npower programme. The excesses of a very few beneficiaries cannot sabotage the tremendous efforts of committed beneficiaries who have diligently discharged assigned responsibilities to full capacity with the impact felt in the teaching, agro, and health sectors.

Having monitored developments meticulously, am of the opinion that beneficiaries should relax their nerves and focus energy on advocating for exit package rather than permanency that seems so infeasible. Looking the way of entrepreneurship guarantees the expansion of Small and medium Scale enterprises with the potency of making every beneficiary a boss of his or her own , with the capacity to employ an endless chain of unengaged graduates.

I am very optimistic that exit cannot happen miraculously without proper consultation with all stakeholders of which the beneficiaries are no exemption. This is in conformity with the tenets of democracy. The exit method will in no doubt define the sincerity of purpose of this present administration of which curbing unemployment forms the fulcrum of party goals. The exit package will signal the end of politicians paying lip service as everyone of them will be held accountable to redeem their pledges.

I strongly believe that the government is not oblivion of the fact that 500,000 is a large population strength that poses as a tidal wave capable of sweeping any government out of office. The government of the day can not afford to lose their votes in future elections and also are not blind to the excruciating economic consequences of sacking such a huge number of beneficiaries with outcomes such as heightened social evils like kidnappings, terrorism e.t.c. Npower beneficiaries are a colony of bees ready to sting and the government will sure feel the impact.

Conclusively, while we wait to get clear signals on future developments on the matter, beneficiaries should warm up for national protest that should go beyond social media agitations if the government dares to go contrary to all promises overtime. There will sure be light at the end of the tunnel.

SOLIDARITY FOREVER !!!

 

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