By; MURTALA ADOGI MOHAMMED PhD.
Henry Kessinger in his book, ‘Leadership’ stated that, “any society, whatever its political system, is perpetually in transit between a past that forms its memory and a vision of the future that inspires its evolution. Along this route, leadership is indispensable: decisions must be made, trust earned, promises kept a way forward proposed”.
The Nigerian government, through the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation on Saturday 7th October 2023, announced the indefinite suspension of the Buhari’s version of N-Power scheme.
The incumbent Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, has alleged many irregularities in the scheme. While at the other hand, the Senate on Tuesday 10th October 2023 – began moves to transfer the National Social Investment Programme Agency from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to the Presidency. It seems there is huge issue of power and politics here! All I’m interested here is to see how the project will lift young Nigerians out of poverty.
The scheme, initiated in 2016 by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari under the National Social Investment Programme, aimed at empowering the youth. The Nigerian government initiated a series of social investment programs aimed at addressing poverty and unemployment.
These programmes include, N-Power, GEEP (Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program), Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), and the Home-Grown School Feeding Program. These programs sought to empower youth, provide financial support to businesses, and improve school enrollment and nutrition.
It’s important to note that the N-Power program is part of the government’s broader efforts to address youth unemployment and improve human capital development. The program has gone through several phases and refinements since its inception to enhance its effectiveness.
Delivering reforms within the context of programs like N-Power in Nigeria requires careful planning, effective implementation, and continuous monitoring and evaluation. Some of the quick wins in delivering N-Power reforms for the Renewed Hope administration in Nigeria can help build early momentum and demonstrate a commitment to improving the program. Here are some expected quick wins and strategies for N-Power reforms:
1. Streamline Beneficiary Selection and Improve Graduation and Transition – One of the weaknesses for the Buhari’s version of the N-Power is that, the beneficiaries complains seriously as per the difficulties encounter during the selection processes and transition.
The Renewed Hope N-Power should review the beneficiary selection process to ensure it is transparent, efficient, and free from favoritism. Implement an online portal for applications, conduct periodic verification exercises, and use a random selection method to eliminate bias. establish a structured graduation process that helps beneficiaries transition into permanent employment or entrepreneurship.
The handlers of the project’ previous mistakes were not being able to work closely with Governor’s forum. The Renewed Hope team should not repeat that mistake. You don’t expect a project that was designed without the inputs and buy-in of Governors to succeed at state-level.
2. Strengthen Monitoring, Evaluation and Data Management – One of the major weaknesses of the Buhari’s N-power is the inability to work with reliable independent third party monitors with a strong digital footprints and experiences in conducting third party monitoring. Therefore, for the renewed hope N-Power, there is a need to enhance the monitoring and evaluation framework to track the progress and performance of N-Power beneficiaries.
Utilize technology to collect real-time data on beneficiaries’ activities and outcomes. Implement a robust data management system to keep accurate records of beneficiaries, payments, and performance indicators.
This data can inform decision-making and future program adjustments. With approval of every beneficiary published their names on the online platform – evidence-based! This will improve the credibility of the scheme.
3. Efficient Payment System and Increase Engagement with Employers – Implement a reliable and efficient payment system to ensure that beneficiaries receive stipends on time. Explore digital payment options to minimize delays and errors. Develop partnerships with private sector companies and government agencies to absorb N-Power beneficiaries as interns or employees.
Create incentives for employers to hire and retain N-Power graduates. For the ease of transition, negotiate with state Governors – through the NGF to absorb some of the N-power beneficiaries. Engage all relevant stakeholders, including government officials, program beneficiaries, civil society organizations, and the private sector, to ensure buy-in and support for the reform.
4. Policy Integration, Innovation and Technology and Impact Measurement -What is the place of education and health policies in N-Power project? Effective social investment programs should be integrated into national and states development strategies and policies.
This integration ensures long-term commitment and sustainability. Innovative approaches, including the use of technology and digital solutions, can improve program efficiency, reduce costs, and increase outreach.
Data and technology drive decision-making. Rigorous impact measurement is essential for assessing program effectiveness and making evidence-based improvements. Regular data collection and analysis help identify what works and what doesn’t.
The Renewed Hope version of N-Power should ensure that – they work closely key Ministries and agencies like SUBEB and Primary Health Care Agencies. This is to ensure ownership and sustainability.
5. Zero Tolerance for Fraud and Corruption, Feedback Mechanism and Publicize Success Stories – Nigerians see some of the these SIP interventions are just a pipeline for corruption.
Therefore, there is need to institute strict measures to prevent fraud and corruption in N-Power. Encourage beneficiaries and the public to report any irregularities and take swift action against wrongdoers. Establish a feedback mechanism for beneficiaries to report challenges and provide input on program improvements. Regularly engage with beneficiaries to address their concerns.
Share success stories and impact assessments of N-Power beneficiaries to build public confidence and support for the program. Showcase how N-Power has contributed to poverty reduction and skill development. The Renewed Hope version of N-Power should develop a strong platform for showcasing evidenced-based and verifiable results and impact.
6. Collaboration with International Development Partners – The Renewed Hope version of N-Power should collaborate with international organizations and development partners for technical assistance, sharing of best practices, and financial support.
The donor and development partners would provide support in areas related to, data and analytics tools to assess the impact of the existing program; provide training and capacity-building programs to equip program administrators and staff with the skills required to implement reforms effectively; support in the implementation of a robust monitoring and evaluation system to track progress, measure outcomes, and assess the impact of reforms.
These quick wins can help the new administration revitalize the N-Power programme, make it more efficient and impactful, and gain public trust. It’s important to have a clear vision, effective leadership, and a commitment to good governance to achieve these reforms successfully.
Additionally, continuous multisectoral monitoring and evaluation will be crucial to track progress and make further improvements. Overall, within human institutions – leadership is needed to help people reach from where they are to where they have never been and, sometimes, can scarcely imagine going. In the words of Henry Kissinger, “Without leadership, institutions drift, and nations court growing irrelevance and, ultimately, disaster”.
Murtala Adogi Mohammed PhD is the
System Strategy and Policy Lab. He can be reached via,