N-Power: Another look at FG’s initiative against drug abuse, insecurity, others




In this piece, PAUL OKAH analyses how the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development is intervening in the war against drug abuse and insecurity through the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), even as it’s in partnership with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for the enrollment of rehabilitated drug abuse ‘clients’ into N-Power and other programmes being implemented by the ministry.

Regardless of the criticisms against the policies of the federal government over the years, the common agreement is that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has created an enviable record that will be difficult to break by successive administrations, with regards to tackling poverty, unemployment and insecurity through job-creation.

In 2016, a year after his election, President Buhari created the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), which was overseen by the office of the Vice President, until the creation of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADMSD) in 2019, which took over the NSIP, with Sadiya Umar Farouq as pioneer minister overseeing the numerous intervention programmes of the ministry.

The NSIP houses the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), the Job-Creation Unit for graduates and non graduates (popularly known as N-Power), Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), Government Enterprises and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), among others, which are aimed at ensuring that Nigerians are lifted from poverty.

The N-Power programme, targeted at Nigerian youths between the ages of 18-35, ensures that beneficiaries earn N30, 000 (for graduates) and N10, 000 (for non graduates) monthly stipends from the federal government until they are exited from the programme or secure permanent employments, thereby helping young Nigerians to acquire and develop life-long skills that ensure they become solution providers and entrepreneurs in their communities.

This writer’s investigation showed that from its launch in 2016 to May 2022, the N-Power programme has provided skilled and non-skilled jobs to 1.5 beneficiaries, many of whom have gone ahead to get married, start up families and diversified from businesses.

Drug abuse

Across the federation, the common phenomenon is the issue of drugs or substance abuse by both adults and the youth which has often been blamed on poverty, unemployment, divorce, and the lack of parental care.

The use of psychoactive substances such as alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine as well as prescription medications evidently exert tremendous toll on the individual, families and societies as substance abuse affects the physical, social and psychological levels of the user and family members.

Unfortunately, despite measures put in place by the federal government, in line with international conventions to counter the growing challenges of drug abuse in Nigeria, the menace of drug abuse appears not to be abetting.

FG’s interventions

Worried by the rising cases of drug abuse, on May 24, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development sought the collaboration of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to train and empower victims of drug abuse in N-Power.

Speaking during the provision of psychosocial support and integration of victims of drugs and substance abuse (who prefer to be called ‘clients’) at the NDLEA counselling facility in Abuja, the permanent secretary of the ministry, Nasir Sani Gwarzo, who was represented by the Director of Humanitarian Affairs, Alhaji Ali Grema, said the ministry has decided to take a new dimension to the sensitisation and awareness campaign against drug abuse in a more holistic way by training and empowering the clients.

According to him, the Ministry needs an office space within NDLEA building to be furnished with the required equipment through the N-power programme to enable clients under rehabilitation to undergo training in their various choice skills.

She said, “The FMHADMSD is dedicated to minimising and eventually eliminating the problems which we are currently facing as a result of drug and substance abuse. As part of the Ministry’s programmes, we are putting all hands-on deck to rid our country of drug problems by escalating poverty eradication through N-power programmes, improving education enrolment through our NHGSFP, encouraging and improving entrepreneurship through GEEP and by cash grant to the most vulnerable Nigerians through the CCT. This is in accordance to Mr. President’s vision to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030.

“One way in which we can effectively prevent drug abuse among young people is by giving them self-confidence and the strength, skills and abilities to say no to drugs. This forms one of the reasons we organised this programme. Known drug dealers in our communities must be reported to law enforcement authorities. We also need to work together with law enforcement authorities to enforce drug laws to stem and seize the flow of illicit drugs. In the same vein, we need to strengthen regional cooperation to combat cross-border flow of illicit drugs.

“The Ministry understands that the clients are very special individuals and will not require going out to training centres; that is why we are requesting for an office space so that the trainers/facilitators can come here to your facility to train the clients.

“I would like to end by challenging each and every one of us today, as parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, religious and community leaders, members of the media, government officials including teachers, social workers, local councilors and law enforcement officials, have a responsibility to young people in our communities to ensure they grow up in a society free of drugs. Your individual actions each and every day will help our children remain drug free.”

NDLEA’s concerns

Also speaking, the NDLEA chairman/chief executive officer, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (retd.), who was represented by the agency’s secretary, Barrister Shedrack Haruna, said the menace of drug abuse in Nigeria has taken a worrisome dimension, despite measures put in place by the Government at all levels and in line with international conventions to counter the growing challenges.

He said: “Globally, there is a shift in drug policy which sees drug use as a public health issue. Therefore, reducing the demand for drugs in any society depends to a large extent on the successful treatment and reintegration of people who use drugs. Part of the agency’s mandate is the counseling and rehabilitation of drug users. Consequently, the agency plans to build model rehabilitation centres in some states of the federation for the treatment and reintegration of drug users to enable them contribute their quota to the development of our society.

“Evidence has proven that unemployment is both a cause and effect of drug use in our society and it is a common knowledge that drug users often lose their jobs or vocation as a result of drug use. Vocational rehabilitation programme seeks to restore individuals to their physical, optimal mental, social, vocational and economic ability. There is no doubt that this programme would equip the clients with relevant training and skills in order for them to be useful to themselves, their families and the society at large.

“I commend the Ministry immensely for providing the starter packs to equip these clients with the skills to facilitate their rehabilitation and reintegration back to their families and society. Vocational rehabilitation helps individuals to build skills in order to prevent relapse after treatment.

“Vocational rehabilitation program seeks to restore individuals to their physical, optimal mental, social, vocational and economic ability. There is no doubt that this programme would equip the clients with relevant training and skills in order for them to be useful to themselves, their families and the society at large. On this note, the agency most sincerely appreciates the Ministry for this intervention and support to drug users undergoing treatment and rehabilitation.”

Beneficiaries’ appreciation

Speaking with our reporter, a 26-year-old client at the NDLEA facility, who didn’t give his name for obvious reasons, said he took into drugs as a result of a combination of peer pressure and family problems.

“I am happy to be benefitting from the rehabilitation programme of the NDLEA. Many people like me embraced drug abuse as a result of peer pressure and family issues. Parents should try as much as possible to stay together to raise their children because products of broken homes often end up mixing with the wrong crowd and taking to drugs in order to feel among. However, it is something that can be overcome with talking to professionals.

“I want to specially commend the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs for its giant strides in making sure that we acquire skills in addition to being rehabilitated. It goes a long way to show that the government cares for a better Nigeria. My advice to Nigerians out there is to shun drug abuse as it harms more than you can think of,” he said.

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