Integrate N-power and NYSC SAED program: The NYSC Skill Acquisition program has, over the years, been a complete waste of time for trained corps members who, after undergoing camp and post-camp training, do not have the required capital to start up a business in the area of the acquired skill. This exercise is akin to building a house on a sandy beach because all the efforts invested by trainers during the 3-week training at the NYSC Camp go into futility. Corps members, after developing a passion for a particular skill, lack the required resources to actualize their training. Statistics have shown that over 40.1 % of unemployed youth are graduates who have completed their NYSC. Does this mean these graduates are not putting into execution the training given to them during their NYSC SAED Program? The answer is no; these young corps members do not receive enough funding to start up their skills.
This article will discuss the benefits of integrating the N-power program and the NYSC Skill Acquisition Program (SAED) as an urgent panacea to the growing unemployment crisis in Nigeria. The article will further suggest possible strategies for the government during the integration program to ensure success in achieving its goals.
The NYSC SAED Program
The NYSC program, established in 1973 by the Yakubu Gowon Administration, aimed to foster national integration and develop the youth as a mirror of society, reflecting the extent of development and progress of the Nigerian people. Despite all efforts made by the government, 40% of the graduated young people remain unemployed. The consequences of this unemployment have led to banditry, theft, robbery, and various social vices.
In March 2012, the NYSC introduced a specialized department known as Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED), with the slogan “Corp Members Creating Wealth.” The purpose of this department is to equip and train corps members in various skills, ensuring productivity and self-employment in Nigeria. During the three-week orientation course, corps members undergo rigorous and intense skill acquisition training in their respective areas of interest. This training is designed to equip them to be self-employed and responsible citizens.
The SAED training of the NYSC continues further, campaigning through the 11 months of service. Corp members are equipped and may have acquired the requisite know-how to execute what they have learned for the benefit of society. However, this is often hindered by a lack of access to finance to start up. The closest solution to ending unemployment among young graduates is the integration of the N-power program with the NYSC SAED program. (Integrate N-power)
The Npower Program is a scheme established by the federal government of Nigeria during the Buhari-led Administration to ensure that graduates are engaged in gainful employment while they search for a permanent job. The Npower program was poorly planned as it could not effectively address issues of ghost workers. Beneficiaries of the Npower program, for various reasons, do not show up at their places of primary assignment but are still paid 30,000 monthly for staying at home and doing nothing.
Meanwhile, following the current realities, the payment in question could not even cover the monthly transportation expenses of the Npower beneficiaries, making “ghostworking” inevitable. The program further suffered setbacks due to corruption and a weak supervision system. Recently, the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Dr. Betta Edu, announced the suspension of the N-power program pending the conclusion of the investigation into alleged misappropriation and ghostworking.
To set the records straight, over 1,000,000 Nigerians have benefited from the Npower program, and the government has spent 1.08 trillion Naira on Npower stipends and 400 billion Naira on Npower training, along with about 1.3 trillion Naira on the School Feeding program. Yet, it could not alleviate the poverty level because the money was invested in a scheme not properly planned and organized. With the prevailing challenges mentioned above, there is a need for the integration of the Npower and the NYSC.
Call for Integration
Because NYSC corps members who go through the SAED program end up in frustration and disappointment due to the unavailability of startup capital, there is a need for the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs of the Federal Government to integrate the N-power program into the NYSC Skill Acquisition program.
During the service year, the Federal Government should establish a startup fixed deposit account for all corps members, and the same 30,000 paid to Npower beneficiaries should be deposited into the field account monthly for one year. At the end of the service year, each corps member would be expected to have 30,000 x 12, which is N360,000. This amount should be separate from their monthly allowance and their bicycle allowance.
With the above amount paid in a lump sum, corps members should be able to start businesses with the acquired skills. Additionally, the Federal Government should further extend grants and interest-free loans to corps members to enable them to succeed as they progress. (Integrate N-power)
The frustrating and hopeless situation of Nigeria today, marked by the increasing unemployment rate, has resulted in the “JAPA syndrome” and constant brain drain. Other countries consistently benefit from the talent that leaves Nigeria every year due to unemployment. If the government genuinely desires a future Nigeria that values education, hard work, and integrity, the integration of the N-power program with the NYSC SAED program becomes the next crucial step. Corps members would elevate their level of seriousness, driven by the hope of practicalizing the program through government Npower sponsorship.
Nigeria is our collective responsibility, and building a stronger and better nation requires getting everyone employed. Let us unite to create a more prosperous future for our nation. (Integrate N-power)