Information reaching us from reliable sources has it that the federal government is set to exit the first batch of 200,000 N-Power volunteers from the programme. This was confirmed recently by some principal officers of the National Social Investment Office (NSIO) and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, in Abuja. The planned disengagement, barring any new development, will be effected between now and February 2019. These set of volunteers are to be dropped from the scheme because, according to the 2020 budget, there was no provision for them. This alone may have prompted the planned N-Power 2016 batch exit.
A top official of National Social Investment Office (NSIO), who spoke exclusively on this matter, affirmed that the time had come for the affected 200,000 beneficiaries to go. He was quoted as he repetitively said: “But they must go. They have to go. Government cannot sustain it. Government has to graduate some so that they can enroll other people too.” This, therefore, may dishearten the 2016 batch as their end is finally here. On the other hand, it may be a very good news for those who have always been asking for when the next registration and recruitment under this scheme will take place. To these lot, get yourself, your documents and every other thing in place as new registration may likely take place in the first quarter of the year.
Why did it take that long?
As a consolation to the exiting batch, it was also reported that the management of National Social Investment Office (NSIO) had already arranged an exit plan for the exiting beneficiaries. However, it is neither clear what has been planned as the exit package nor when it will be implemented. What is certain is that the said exit plan is presently awaiting the approval of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed. One would justifiably ask and wonder why the set was not exited from the programme in 2018 when their two year contract expired.
In explaining the above, a source in the presidency explained that the first batch of 200,000 were allowed to remain in the scheme and on the payroll because of the 2019 general elections. According to this source, December 2018 was not the right time to disengage the volunteers because of the possible political implications this may cause during the 2019 elections. He said, “Their exit time fell on 2018 which was electioneering period. So, it will not be wise for the government to be sacking 200,000 people on the eve of the general elections. Politically, it’s not wise. That’s why the programme stretched till this time. They have even stayed many months extra on the payroll.
Confirming what was earlier said by an official of the National Social Investment Office (NSIO), this source in the presidency went ahead to say, “The truth is that they don’t even have allocation for them in the 2020 budget and because of that, they will not be paid. They will exit them this January or so.”
Are they going back to the Streets?
If the information gathered from various sources concerning the planned N-Power 2016 batch exit is anything to go home with, the exiting volunteers are not going back to the streets. As part of the disengagement plan for them, the federal government is setting modalities in place for a soft-landing for the exiting beneficiaries. This is done with the aim that as they are exiting the scheme, none of them would be pushed back into the labour market. This planned exit package had many components as suggested by the N-Power transition options that temporarily came up on the beneficiaries’ online profiles somewhere in 2019.
N-Power 2016 Batch Exit Plans
When the N-Power Transition option was on, the available exit routes included becoming a SANEF agent, becoming a field agent, starting a business with GEEP loan, starting/expanding farms, becoming a teacher and joining community policing. It is not very clear if these options will be retained in what is coming out soon. Be that as it may, the sources hinted further that federal government was already meeting with the state governments to encourage them to absorb or engage those that had been productive. The government says it has plans to liaise with private sector employers as well.
On its own, the federal government is exploring ways of encouraging public institutions to come to the rescue of the exiting volunteers. For instance, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the police are encouraged to absorb some of the 2016 beneficiaries upon disengagement from N-Power since they had acquired about three years’ experience in various areas.
As stated earlier, these plans are to be presented to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning this month (January 2019) for consideration and approval. After this, implementation of the various plans will commence in earnest. To the 2016 N-Power volunteers, expect the resurfacing of the transition icon on your dashboards soon as the N-Power 2016 batch exit plans look more real now than ever.