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Youth empowerment through N-Power in North-Central zone

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Sir: On Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Abuja, the Federal Government inaugurated the third batch of the N-Power exercise on the National Social Investment Management System (NASIMS).

NASIMS is the central management platform for the administration and coordination of National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP) under the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. The inauguration was chaired by the Minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq.

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According to an elated Farouq, the inauguration was in continuation of the ongoing strategy by President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to lift 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years. She reminded the audience that Batches ‘A’ and ‘B’ had already been implemented, stating that the 500,000 beneficiaries would benefit in the first stream of the ongoing process for batch ‘C’, while the same number of Nigerians would benefit in the second stream.

Farouq explained that the new batch would drive skills acquisition for beneficiaries, with the goal to ensure that they are economically active and possess the right vocational skill set to attract gainful employment when they graduate.

Fundamentally, poverty alleviation and productive youth engagement remain major challenges of modern economies around the world today. Nigeria is no exception. As a result of poor enterprise culture, the current, carefully designed poverty alleviation programmes and skills acquisition projects in Nigeria are now major drivers of change. They have assumed a multi-dimensional footing, cutting across all facets of age groups, educational strata and geographies.

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It is common knowledge that the driving forces of economic growth and social development hinge on skills and knowledge. Beyond the current high level of unemployment, harnessing the nation’s young demography through appropriate skill development efforts provides an opportunity to simultaneously achieve national inclusion and productivity. Not surprisingly, large-scale skill development is the main policy thrust of the N-Power Programme.

From evaluation, it was noted that the inclusion of non-educated youths was important. Some stakeholders urged the extension of the programme beyond two years and that more sectors should be added to make it multi-sectoral in reducing unemployment and poverty. But clearly, the programme is not an open cheque and needn’t be so to be effective.

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The CCT programme directly supports those within the lowest poverty bracket by improving nutrition, increasing household consumption through a cash benefit of N5,000 monthly. Kogi State is one of the eight pilot states that started the cash transfer programme in 2016. It has two categories of cash transfer and livelihood support targeted at poor and vulnerable households.

However, some identified systemic hiccups challenging the seamless operation of the N-Power programme include insufficient information and wrong Bank Verification Number (BVN) and a few other minor issues. Good enough, the supervising minister has assured of reviews where necessary.
 
Lewis Chukwuma is an Abuja-based freelance journalist.

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