By Cecilia Ologunagba
Abuja – The Minister of State Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed says the Federal Executive Council (FEC) will soon approve the policy framework for social protection in the country.
Ahmed disclosed this at the 2nd Year Commemorative Event of the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja.
The event was organised to showcase the achievements of the National Social Investment Programmes (N-SIP) of the administration with the theme: “A Smile for Every Nigerian’’.
N-SIP is a Federal Government programme aimed at reducing poverty and improved livelihoods of vulnerable groups such as the unemployed youths, women and children.
Ahmed said that the ministry had finalised the work and the draft policy was ready for approval to give N-SIP a legal framework.
“The policy was drafted in line with commitment of the president when he was campaigning to provide social intervention programmes for Nigerians,’’ she said.
Ahmed said that the president recently launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (EGRP), saying one of the key execution priorities of the plan was on the Social Intervention Programmes.
“We have clearly indicated that to achieve that in sustainable manner, we must take care of most important aspect, which is human capital.
“We may not have all the answers; we are going about this with a purpose of succeeding in moving our people out of poverty.
“This administration has started a social scheme that is sustainable; it is not perfect, there are still a number of challenges which will continue to address.
“It will get better. It has to get better; the programme will be institutionalised and it will succeed,’’ she said.
Some of the beneficiaries who shared their experiences under the N-Power appreciated the support of the government in empowering them.
N-Power is one of the components N-SIP aimed at empowering Nigerians both graduates and non-graduates – between the ages of 18 and 35 by paying them N30, 000 monthly over a period of two years.
Dapil Ali, a beneficiary of N-Power graduate scheme in Plateau said he was employed under the scheme and posted to a school of the handicap in the state as a teacher.
“I have been able to instruct the blind students and my vision is to make every blind person a scientist and a mathematician.
“I have been saving part of my stipend; I desire to establish a computer centre that will be training vision impaired persons through a special programme,’’ he said.
Similarly, Mr Ebere Charles, a beneficiary from Kano said he graduated with 1st Class Honours in 2013 without a job.
Charles said that being the only graduate in the family of eight was frustrated without a job until N-Power transformed his life.
“ I was skeptical about this N-Power programme before, thinking it will be like any other failed social programmes in the past.
“I applied and I was posted to School of Hygiene in Kano where I lecture and counsel the students,’’ he said.
Mr Magaji Nicolas, another beneficiary of the programme from Kaduna, who graduated seven years ago was full of appreciation to the government for employing them.
“My life before now was close to despair, I will wake up without a job,’’ he said,
Magaji, however, appealed to the Federal Government to extend the scheme to accommodate more youths.
“Youths want to be engaged like us but no one to engage them; the stipend is helping but engaging youths is more important even that the money.’’
Ms Geneve Okecheckwu, another beneficiary from Enugu said she had worked with some professionals under the N-Power to learn how to create website.
About 174,160 beneficiaries have been deployed so far out of the 200,000 selected N-Power beneficiaries.