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OpEd: Why FG Shouldn’t Disengage Npower Volunteers  – Habibu Bawa

When I read the news that both batches of the N-power volunteers will be disengaged in few days to come, I was sadly reminded of my January 15, 2019 Campus Life column on The Nation tittled, “Time To Replace NYSC With Npower”. In it, I pointed how the National Youth Service Corps initiated by Military Government in 1970s is yet to meet many of it’s missions and why N-power is the best for this modern time.

The N-power, an initiative of the Federal Government in 2016 has given many Nigerian youths who have graduated from higher institutions chances to serve their country in their local communities while earning enough to make ends meet. It’s unarguably, the first National program to reach every local community and absorb many qualified Nigerians without influence or contractions and has made a big contribution to Nigeria’s employment sphere.

Before the N-power scheme, many community dispensaries and village primary schools are understaffed while many rural farmers in need of modern farming orientation lacked access to agric extension workers. These among others are areas where N-power volunteers have touched and have had positive effects on lives of local Nigerians.

Also, President Muhammadu Buhari has in Kano during his 2015 campaign promised to create 3 million jobs considering the increasing unemployment and poverty rates in Nigeria while his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo in Akure pledged to anew 20, 000 jobs annually. All these were expected to be achieved within their first 3 years but so far, we only have 500, 000 visible under the Npower program.

This program has increased the number of employed youths and reduced idleness which leads to crime most times. With the effects of Corona pandemic in cities and towns, kidnappers on streets and farms, arm robbers attacking banks and unknown gunmen attacking rural settlements, the best is to bring more youths to Npower scheme to improve many aspects of local lives.

Governments at all levels must realize the need to build and strengthen Nigerian youths most especially graduates who are jobless, many of these are gold mines who have all it takes to transform this country. A situation where the Federal Government decided to lay off 500, 000 graduates is counterproductive and detrimental to human lives as many maybe put out of their source of daily bread.

Every initiative of government has it aims and target, it’s thus unripe if an initiative should be terminated prematurely before achieving it’s full aim. Many of the Volunteers will be financially handicap and economically paralyzed with unemployment infections if disengaged at this time of economic hardship bedevilling the country. What is needed is more schemes to engage many young Nigerians to eradicate poverty and joblessness.

Why FG Shouldn’t Disengage Npower Volunteers – Habibu Bawa

Just few days ago, vice president Yemi Osinbajo’s team has predicted that 39.4 million people maybe unemployed and many more maybe pushed to extreme poverty before the end of this year if government failed to make preemptive measures. This is aside almost double increase in unemployment rate from 3.79% in 2009 to 6.11% in 2019 and continuous increase in price of commodities in local markets.

After this report, what president Muhammadu Buhari at the apex of Federal Affairs should be thinking is adding more youths to this scheme, engaging the current as permanent employees or coming up with many other programs, by this, he’ll not only write his name on the sands of time but also leave a legacy when he’s gone.

There however maybe flaws in the past selections which the current minister in-charge wants to tackle, this however should call for verification or reformation and not disengagement. The use of Bank Verification Number or National Identification Number will aid screening, selection and payment processes to allow qualified and active youths to keep making impacts in our societies.

For now, Npower is one of the key hopes of every unemployed graduate and the only program that puts food on the tables of many poor graduates, batch C should be an addition and not to take over. Federal government is not expected to push out youths but bring them in.

In a nutshell, with the present economic crisis the world itself is facing, industries and private businesses closing shops due to pandemic, restrictions in movement and fall in oil price, it’s therefore suicidal to disengage youths from a program they earn daily bread. Unemployment is synonymous to poverty and it’s an automatic licence to criminality. Disengagement of beneficiaries at this moment is premature and should be postponed immediately.

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