Humanitarian Affairs: How FG curbs unemployment through N-Skills, others

Minister Farouq

One of the objectives of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is to tackle poverty in the country and this necessitated the creation of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in 2019, with Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq as its pioneer minister. PAUL OKAH in this report takes a look at how the government has so far curbed unemployment and poverty through N-Skills and other initiatives under the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP).

The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADMSD), under the leadership of Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, the pioneer minister, has continued to ensure that N-Power beneficiaries, under the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), are gainfully employed and lifted from poverty by collaborating with relevant agencies to train 6,475 Nigerians nationwide on smart phone repairs, equipping them with the necessary tools and providing N20,000 monthly stipend to the beneficiaries, under N- Skills.

The NSIP houses the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer, Government Enterprises and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), among others, which are aimed at ensuring that 100 million Nigerians are lifted from poverty within 10 years.

The N-Power programme is a critical part of the NSIP domiciled in the FMHADMSD and designed to achieve the national objectives of poverty reduction and job creation and key to helping young Nigerians acquire and develop life-long skills that will ensure they become solution providers and entrepreneurs in their communities.

From inception, N-Power had three core segments, including N-Power Volunteer Corps (for graduates), N-Power Build (for non graduates) and N-Power Knowledge- which is also a non-graduate programme for ICT-inclined Nigerians and that embodies the N-Tech Hardware, N-Tech Software and the N-Creative training programme.

However, recently, more segments were embedded into the N-Power programme such as the N-Skills, which is for youth with no formal education, who are trained on different vocational skills and trades, while the Mobile Money Agents is also for the financial inclusion of this youth segment.

The N-Skills programme

The N-Skills programme, a component of the N-Power programme, is based on a certification system and accreditation of practical training provided through the informal apprenticeship system anchored by Master Craft Persons (MCPs) and the formal training system, including using the Community Skills Development Centres (COSDECs) in many states.

In March, the federal government commenced the training of beneficiaries for Smart phone repairs for a period of six weeks in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, including 194 trained in Adamawa, 177 trained in Kano, 158 trained in Ebonyi, 258 trained in Plateau, among others.

While the training accommodated many skills-based enterprises, the Smart Phone repairs was used to pilot the programme under the N-Power non-graduate component, providing the trainees the opportunity to learn and develop competence in Smart Phone repairs business and earn a living; rather than waiting for white collar jobs.

Also, as the programme aims to ease the transition of target beneficiaries to full-time skilled employment, self-employment and further their education, it also targets the marginalised and disadvantaged population, including those with primary or no formal education, in line with the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) for the development, classification and recognition of skills, knowledge and competencies acquired by individuals; irrespective of where and how the training or skill is acquired.

On the successful completion of the training, certificates of attendance and starter packs, including rework soldering station, digital multimeter, set of precision screwdriver, repair tool kit and magnifying lamp, were distributed to the beneficiaries to start their businesses.

Having completed the training, the beneficiaries were attached directly to MCPs in the trade, for a six-month apprenticeship. (The MCPs are masters of smart phone repairs, who were also trained and certified by National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).) The six-month attachment would enable them to have work-based learning experience.

Therefore, in the six-month attachment period, the performance of the beneficiaries would be assessed and examined by the NBTE and the National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB), which would lead to the issuance of NBTE certificates to those that met the minimum requirements.

Kano benefits

On April 27, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, disclosed that about 177 youths underwent training on smart phone repairs and services under the N-Skills programme, a component of the N-Power programme in Kano state.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, through her representative, the Special Assistant to the President, Dr. Mahmoud Nasir, she said the federal government is committing the sum of over N5.9 billion on training, tooling and monthly stipends for the Batch C beneficiaries of N-Power programme, even as she warned the N-Skills beneficiaries not to sell the starter packs handed over to them after the programme, “which was well conceived to take them out of unemployment and turn them to employers of labour.”

She said: “The N-Skills programme is in line with the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) for the development, classification and recognition of skills, knowledge and competencies acquired by individuals, irrespective of where and how the training or skill is acquired. It will help in bridging the gap in demand for standard and market relevant skills.

“The N-Skills accommodates many skills-based enterprises. This Smart Phone Repairs is used to pilot the programme under the N-Power non-graduate component. The programme is designed to train; tool and transition marginalized unemployed youths into the labour market to gainfully be employed. The Ministry worked with technical service providers to provide the N-Skills training services to 6,475 unemployed youths across the federation.

“On successful completion of the in-center training, beneficiaries will be issued a Certificate of Attendance and given a starter pack such as Rework Soldering Station (Soldering Iron), Digital Multimeter, Set of Precision Screwdriver and Repair Tool Kit as well as Magnifying lamp that would enable them to start the smart phone repairs business. Business Clinics are also being set up in partnership with states and the FCT to provide post-training business start-up and entrepreneurship mentoring and support to the beneficiaries of the programme. This is consistent with the national aspiration of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years,” she said.

On the N-Power programme, Farouq said, “The graduate and non-graduate components of the N-Power programme have been expanded to provide job opportunities for 16,629 unemployed youths in Kano State under Batch C, following the successfully exiting of 18,042 youths under Batches A & B. You may wish to note that under the National Social Investment Programme, NSIP, the Federal Government is investing over N5.9 billion for the training, tooling and/or payment of monthly stipends on the Batch C beneficiaries. This is a tremendous direct injection of resources at the grassroots and in the hands of the youth.”

64,607 benefit in Adamawa

Apart from the N-Skills programme, the federal government has also put other programmes in place to ensure that millions of Nigerians are lifted from poverty, especially through job creation, loan disbursement, among others.

On April 29, during the graduation of 194 beneficiaries of the N-Skills programme in Yola, the Focal Person of the programme in Adamawa, Mrs. Mary Yuwadi, said the federal government had enrolled 64,607 vulnerable people in Adamawa under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme of NSIP.

She said the beneficiaries were enrolled into the CCT programme across the 21 local government areas of the state, adding that the programme drastically reduced poverty and enhanced wealth creation in the society.

“Presently, 28, 486 people are receiving N5,000 monthly stipend equivalent to N142,430 a year. The remaining 36,121 people will soon start benefiting from the scheme. Also, under N-Power Batches A, B and C, a total of 28,697 people have been enrolled in the state since inception in 2016, while 162,782 pupils captured under National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, where primary one to three pupils are receiving free meal a day, and about 2,259 cooks employed in the state,” she said.

She also revealed that 38,089 people accessed different loans to enable them to set up their businesses under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), adding that 28,000 beneficiaries had been registered under GEEP 2.0 programme and would soon benefit from traders, farmers and market omen soft loans initiated by the government.

She said 194 youth trained on phone repairs had received starter parks under the N-Skills programme in the state, warning the beneficiaries against diversion of the kits and urged them to ensure effective utilisation of skills learnt and engage in productive activities.

Beneficiaries’ commendations, prayers

Speaking at the end of the six-week training in Kano, one of the beneficiaries of the N-Skills programme, Maha Jamilu Alkali, commended Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq for facilitating the training, which he said would go a long way to address high rate of unemployment among youths in the state, adding that he was selected without knowing anyone and would use the acquired skills to earn a living and cater for his family.

Also, at the end of the training in Ebonyi, President of Persons with Disabilities in the state, Mr. Moses Nwalo, pledged that the tools would be judiciously utilised, thanking the federal government, on behalf of beneficiaries, for the effort aimed at curbing unemployment.

Similarly, one of the beneficiaries in Plateau state, Salihu Abdullahi, thanked Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq for her relentless efforts to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty through different programmes, expressing gratitude to the federal government for giving him and other beneficiaries the opportunity to participate in the N-Skills programme.