The ProActive Northern Initiative (PANI), has has condemned the federal government’s suspension of the N-Power program or any part of the Social Investment Program and any person directly or remotely connected to the damaging decision.
Comrade Isa Aliyu Musa, convener of the Group, in a statement read at a press conference in Kaduna, said: “We demand that the government immdiately reconsiders its decision and instead invests in expanding the N-Power program to provide opportunities for the youth, fostering positive change, and ultimately contributing to the region’s progress”.
The Group also demanded the immediate sacking of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu and others who might have had roles in the advising the federal government to suspend the N-Power program.
“We emphatically repudiate the vilification of our respected northern leadership for whatever reason or justification.
“In this light, we deem the targeting of our leaders past and present, for vilification, systematic dehumanization, profiling, alienation or any action that will render them object of ridicule, not only immoral and illegal, but also abhorrent to our sensibilities and ordinary decency and therefore unacceptable,” Musa said.
The Group said it is especially saddening for the Nigerian government heed to the advice of Minister Edu whom they described as a novice in governance to suspend the N-Power program which has been instrumental in providing employment and skills development opportunities for many young Nigerians, particularly in the north.
“N-Power is a social investment scheme set up by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 under the supervision the then Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and transfered in 2019 to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management under Sadiya Umar Farouq.
“As Minister, Farouk made several achievements. One of the key achievements of the ministry under her is the successful launch of the National Social Investment Program (NSIP) through which various social intervention programs are implemented. These programs include the N-Power program, the National Home-Grown School Feeding Program, Conditional Cash Transfer, and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program.
“Her tenure also saw significant progress made in other areas. For instance, the ministry worked to improve access to education for children affected by conflict and emergencies through its Safe School Initiative.
“Additionally, the ministry launched a program aimed at addressing malnutrition among children under five years old. The program provided nutrition supplements and education on healthy feeding practices to mothers and caregivers.
“Another notable achievement of the ministry was the prompt intervention in supporting the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the northeast region. The ministry provided relief materials, food items, shelter, and non-food items to the IDPs. They also deployed humanitarian workers to provide psychosocial support to the affected individuals.
“The Ministry was also able to leverage digital technology towards improving services delivery and ensuring transparency. The NSIP, for example, deployed technology to register and monitor beneficiaries to reduce fraud and improve the accountability of the intervention,” Musa recalled.
The Group lamented that suddenly, the federal government announced it will suspend the N-Power programme indefinitely for proper investigation and restructuring.
“In the process, history is being shamefully and blatantly reviewed, rewritten and falsified to suit certain agendas that tend to portray the former Minister and, by extention, the respected Northern leadership in bad light and render them as the culprit and the guilty entity,” the Group said.
It clarified that while it acknowledges the need to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in government programs, we believe that the suspension of the N-Power program at this critical time will have adverse effects on the livelihoods of many young Nigerians who have come to rely on the program for their sustenance.
“Empowering the youth through the N-Power program not only equips them with the necessary skills for employment but also instills a sense of purpose and direction. By keeping the youth engaged in productive activities, the program helps to deter them from engaging in criminal activities or becoming susceptible to extremist ideologies.
“The fragile security situation in Northern Nigeria is already a major concern for the government and the international community. The region has been plagued by terrorist attacks, kidnapping, and other forms of violence for years. The N-Power program was seen as a way to address the underlying economic and social factors that contribute to the insecurity in the region.
“The suspension of the N-Power program leaves a void that can potentially be filled by negative influences, further exacerbating the security challenges faced by the region. The suspension of the N-Power program in northern Nigeria, coupled with the government’s lack of capacity and political will to address the insecurity crisis, poses significant challenges to the region’s development and stability. The program’s aim to empower the youth and keep them focused and disciplined in pursuing credible goals is crucial in combating the prevailing insecurity.
“The suspension of the N-Power program by the Nigerian government is likely to have a negative impact on the fragile security situation in Northern Nigeria. The N-Power program was a youth empowerment program that aimed to address the high unemployment rate in the country.
“The suspension of the program could therefore result in a further deterioration of the security situation in Northern Nigeria. The youth who were engaged in the program may feel that they have no other options but to join criminal or terrorist groups as a way to earn a living. This could lead to an increase in the number of attacks and other violent incidents in the region.
“The people of Northern Nigeria deserve a better and meaningful life, and it is the duty of the government to ensure that their needs are met. It is time for all stakeholders, including the government, private sector, and civil society organizations, to work together towards improving the lives of the people and once and for all get rid of the poverty tag hanging over Northern Nigeria. official breakdown of the beneficiaries in the 19 northern states below,” Musa pointed out.
Citing what it called official data, that shows that 847287 young people from the North have benefited from the N-Power and lamented that they are now rendered jobless and therefore susceptible to negative influences.
“Instead of suspending the program, the government should focus on expanding its reach and impact. By investing in the N-Power program, the government can provide more opportunities for skill development, job creation, and financial support to a larger number of youth. This expansion would not only contribute to the economic growth of the region but also foster a sense of hope and optimism among the youth, reducing their vulnerability to extremist ideologies.
“Few events had confirmed to the northern elite and people that the region is being being abandoned by this administration at the mercy of a rampaging criminality with policies calculated and designed continuously weaken the North politically and pauperize it economically than the abrupt suspension of this particular program.
“The suspension came at a critical time when hunger is stalking millions of homes, inflation is making life difficult by the day, people are losing jobs, businesses are closing down. Infrastructure is decaying, young Nigerians losing hope of being employed, hospitals filled with people who suffer mysterious illnesses, and cannot afford the fees” Musa concluded.