The Nigerian government says 473,137 Nigerian youth have been enrolled into its National Social Investment Programme.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, said this when members of the House of Representatives Committee on Poverty Alleviation visited her on Monday, DailyNigerian reported.
Ms Umar-Farouq said the N-power programme was designed to tackle youth unemployment in the country.
The ministry, in February, had disclosed plans to overhaul the N-Power scheme, school feeding programme and other National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs).
It said the development was to ensure transparency, greater efficiency and more prudent application of resources.
“As at Feb. 25, there are 473,137 Nigerians enrolled into the programme.
“The N-Power Graduate Programme is the Federal Government’s direct intervention to tackle youth unemployment and re-energise public service delivery in four key sectors, that is, education, agriculture, health and tax
“The mandate will be achieved by training and providing jobs for 500, 000 young Nigerian graduates across the 774 local government areas of the federation,” Ms Umar-Farouq said.
Ms Umar-Farouq said that the HGSFP team had recently concluded its work plan for 2020, adding that the programme has started in Kwara State.
On the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme (GEEP), the minister said that the position of the ministry was to continue the programme with revolving loans.
“We also want to seek approval for continuity during this period of transition to avoid disruption to the beneficiaries,” she said.
Ms Umar-Farouq also said the National Cash Transfer Programme was ongoing.
She added that the ministry was making efforts to increase the number of beneficiaries.
Speaking earlier, the chairman of the House committee, Abdullahi Salame, said poverty was the root cause of crime in society.
“Let me use this medium to once again commend President Muhammadu Buhari for finding it worthy to create a ministry saddled with the enormous task of coordinating human services, including overseeing the activities of the Special Intervention Programme.
“Incidentally, the huge poverty gap in the country has been identified as the root cause of crime, violence and social vices in our society.
“There is the need to appreciate the critical role of poverty alleviation in the quest to achieve social and national development as well as violence and crime control,” Mr Salame said.
The programme was set up by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in 2016 to improve the living conditions of millions of poor Nigerians across the country.
The initiative was first run under the office of the vice-president, Yemi Osinbanjo, but was later moved to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development on Independence Day.
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The programmes include N-Power, National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), National Cash Transfer Project (NCTP), and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
Of all the NSIPs, N-Power is perhaps the most abused by beneficiaries through incessant absenteeism from duty posts.
The N-Power was introduced in 2016 with the aim of reducing unemployment among Nigerian graduates and non-graduates between the ages of 18 and 35.
The volunteers are paid N30,000 monthly as stipends and given tablet computers to aid further learning.
One of the many hurdles characterising the N-Power programme has remained the issue of beneficiaries absconding from duty at their various PPAs.
PREMIUM TIMES in July published a special report on how some N-Power beneficiaries absconded from duty and abused their opportunities in three selected states: Kano, Katsina, and Adamawa.
The agency then sacked 2,525 beneficiaries for absconding from their PPAs.
The agency also announced that about 18,674 other beneficiaries of the initiative “have voluntarily resigned, having secured permanent employment.”
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