the moment it was confirmed that indeed, contrary to rumours and false information, Nigerians were indeed susceptible to the Coronavirus, it was only a matter of time before the extreme poverty which hovered over the lives of half of adult Nigerians would begin to yield dire consequences. Poverty and hunger is rife across the country, with nearly 70% of all Coronavirus interventions dealing with providing food and other basic amenities. Such is the reality of our country now. And this is why it should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that 4.48 million Nigerians applied for the Batch C round of applications for the N-Power employment and enterpreneur empowerment scheme.
N-Power has existed in many variant forms, its earlier incarnation was the SURE-P programme which was facilitated by former President Goodluck Jonathan who split the scheme into batches and created the current model that finds and funds enterpreneurs seeking to strike out on their own with the promise of repayment based on an agreed timeline. His programme laid the groundwork for the N-Power programme initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari. As with Goodluck Jonathan, the Buhari administration’s efforts to implement the scheme has been met with widespread corruption, distrust among the elite and a desperate unemployed youth population looking for a pick-me-up. It is quite the cocktail.
My team and I continue to interface with stakeholders to ensure a successful transition for the @npower_ng. It has been 16 days since the portal opened and we have received 4.48 million applications to date.
— Sadiya Umar Farouq (@Sadiya_farouq) July 12, 2020
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, shared information about the progress of the Batch-C recruitment who disclosed this via a tweet, clarifying that the staggering number of applications were received in only 16 days. The government currently only has capacity to enrol 400,000 hopefuls into the scheme, emphasizing just how dire the reality is for youth of working age.
The ministry had recently explained that it was carrying out the transitioning of independent monitors recruited to monitor Batch A and B of the N-Power programme as well as other National Social Investment Programmes.
N-Power is just one of several poverty alleviation schemes implemented by the federal government to cushion the effects of the recession experienced in 2016 and now a second one we will all experience in the second half of the year. Helpful as they are, these schemes are merely stopgaps that will not solve the widespread problem of poor incentives for investors and a lack of investor revenue, perhaps its time we shifted our focus there.
Update: An earlier version of this report inaccurately attribute the N-Power programme to the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Edits have been effected to correct the error.