The take-off of the Federal Government’s youth employment scheme, N-Power, has become enmeshed in scandal and controversies as applicants and other Nigerians raise the alarm over processes employed in the selection of the first batch of the 500,000 proposed intakes.
Aside questions over set criteria for shortlisting the successful applicants, several Nigerians alleged “padding of the list” as strange names that do not reflect the demography of some states and local governments populate the released names of the 200,000 unemployed graduates said to have scaled through the selection process.
The project, which is being coordinated by the Office of the Vice President, involved a number of ministries and agencies, including those of Health, Education, Agriculture, Labour and Employment among others.
Under its first phase, successful candidates are expected to serve as teachers, agriculture and health personnel in the programme billed to commence December 1.
In a statement announcing release of the list of successful applicants, Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, explained that “of the 200,000 first batch, 150,000 of them would teach, 30,000 would work in the agricultural sector and 20,000 in healthcare delivery.”
Employees under the scheme, Akande said, are expected to be posted to local government areas of their residence so that their work would be a form of community service, as the Federal Government is to only offer a stipend of N30,000 monthly for the graduate employees.
However, when names of successful candidates were published on the scheme’s websites, several persons expressed amazement as to the strangeness of some of the names to the assigned local governments.
States with such obvious cases of alleged mismatch include Borno, Adamawa, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina and Kebbi.
One key example being cited is the case of Abadam Local Government Area of Borno State where, according to a resident of the area, over 90 percent of those said to be employed from the local government do not have names that resemble those of its residents.
A Maiduguri-based social media and youth activist, Comrade Abubakar Sadiq Kurbe,
alleged that “people of Borno were fully marginalised in the 200,000 N-power list, by one part of the country, especially in one of its local governments, Abadam.
“The list shows that 92 percent doesn’t reflect the names of applicants from Abadan Local Government Area, we must join hands together and say NO to injustice, NO to corruption and lopsided selection.”
A Facebook user, Abdu Adamu, equally wrote: “Abadam is one of the Borno local gov’t that suffered the BokoHaram attacks which forced its citizens to become IDPs in Maiduguri and Niger Republic.
“How comes names like Grace, Favour, Oyebisi, Adebayo, Onilola, Okechukwu appeared on the N-Power list as those from Abadam, wait a minute, it is not Ibadan but Abadam, did you hear me loud?
“Don’t give me the crap of “residing citizenry”, if the indigenes can move to Niger and Maiduguri as IDPs, how can non-indigenes stay back and even fill an online portal where the internet connection is non-existing?”
An applicant from Kano, who did not make the list, Maryam Gatawa, narrated her predicament and how she made spirited efforts to get the job.
She said: “I have been in the labour market for like three years now. I’ve applied to various job vacancies both at state and federal levels, but so far nothing comes up. So this N-Power was my hope. I really put my mind in it.
“I registered and I was sent a reference number through my gmail. I was in Sokoto when results of the tests were announced. I didn’t receive any message either through text or mail as my friends did. But still I went to the cafe to try my luck; network problems, however, marred my effort. I had to go back for about five times to the cafe but still I couldn’t even access the server.
“Yesterday a friend sent me a link of the lists. I checked but my name isn’t there. Seriously I’m sad! I thought this N-Power is not like other hot cake vacancies. I truly put my hope, I thought I’d get in, this time and leave this labour market. Alas, I was wrong. Perhaps God has something better for me.”
However, defending the process adopted, Akande explained to our correspondent last night the criteria used in arriving at the list of 200,000 entrants, even as he defended accusations of padding in the list.
According to him, “There were three criteria; the first thing was to pick 40 percent of applicants from every state. We then gave a special consideration for North-east states of additional 4,000 applicants. We looked at the condition of the North-east in arriving at this. Third, for states with low applications, we gave them special considerations. If you take state like Zamfara, virtually everybody who applied from there got it, about 90 percent.”
Akande also explained that all states of the federation and the FCT were involved in the project, as they all appointed focal persons for the exercise.
He maintained that those focal persons are in possession of the master list of all applicants with their contact details, and are in the position to verify if those applicants stay in their states or not.
The presidential aide added that because there was no money to give to anybody to settle at their places of posting, that was why it was made a point that all applicants should refer to their places of residence.
“Everything was done online. In places where there were internet challenges, some of the local leaders organised to get information from their people which they now uploaded to the site. There is no case of importation of any names at all. The exercise was done as transparently as can be done,” he said.
Text courtesy of Blueprint. Photo shows Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, whose office coordinates the N-Power scheme.