When the President Muhammad Buhari led-administration introduced the N-Power scheme in June 2016, it was welcomed by many. The scheme is designed to engage both graduates and non-graduates by equipping them with relevant skills for career development thereby transforming Nigeria into a knowledge economy.
The N-Power volunteer corps, one facet of the program which aims to provide jobs for 500,000 unemployed Nigerian graduates, is the only part of the program that has kicked off. After one year, the volunteer scheme has been beneficial to some of its participants, but Nigerians may have a cause to worry.
Many issues have trailed the N-Power volunteer scheme since inception. The official website crashed only a few minutes after accepting applications. Volunteers are yet to get the "super helpful tab" that will help them execute their jobs since resuming duty in December last year. Some volunteers have also complained about the delayed payment of stipends. However, It is particularly worrying that the scheme is now grossly abused.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation and Youth Employment, Mr. Afolabi Imoukhuede, who recently visited Imo State was alarmed by the high number of N-power volunteers absent at their place of work. However, this problem is not unique to only Imo state volunteers, investigations reveal that many participants in the N-power volunteer corps across the country receive stipends without doing any work. Apparently, some volunteers in the scheme have other jobs which they face squarely while getting income from the government.
Still, not all N-Power volunteers are without integrity. Daniel Joshua, an N-Power beneficiary reportedly returned the stipends he was paid for two months after he got a better job and quit the scheme.
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of Daniels in Nigeria and the fact that many mischievous people can very easily exploit the scheme and most likely get away with it is troubling. After all, if many of these beneficiaries are not on the ground to imbibe the necessary skills, what then is the point of the program? If young people can perceive the inefficiency in our systems and can consistently and easily thwart general ethics, then what does the future hold for us as a nation?
Even though the government has announced its intention to prosecute volunteers in the scheme who have accepted payment without working, it should also be proactive and deliberate in the implementation of its projects. Measures must be in place to tackle these lapses for the aim of the scheme to be met, as a solution that does not serve its purpose is no solution at all.