There was a common theme with all the interviewed 2016 beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s Social Investment Scheme, N-Power: the unmistakable tone of uncertainty that masked equal parts of worry and exhaustion.
The about 300,000 2016 beneficiaries of N-Power were counting down the remaining days of their two-year tenure that began in November 2016 before the news of an enhanced scheme was announced in October 2018.
Normally, the talk of an extension and enhancement for the social investment scheme that keeps more people out of the unemployed bracket should be greeted with cheers but the government has not been particularly forthright with the necessary information to quell any form of scepticism that may arise from the public.
The sparse details about the enhanced scheme have not helped the government’s credibility.
“As I am talking to you now, the only source of information I have was the tweets I saw in October and December,” said a beneficiary, who preferred anonymity.
“Dear 2016 Beneficiaries, Relax! Your stipends will be paid. You are still on the programme,” read the tweet on N-Power’s official Twitter handle on December 28.
While the government has an eye on the climbing unemployment rate and seeks to tackle such issues with the social investment program, some beneficiaries have doubts about the government’s intentions as they are yet to be informed of their job description in the new scheme.
According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria currently has more than 20.9 million people unemployed, up from 17.6 million people in the third quarter of 2018.
Another beneficiary in Lagos told The Guardian that despite being assured of continuity of the scheme, he was yet to be contacted about the take-off date of the enhanced N-Power scheme.
He said, “What this government is doing is the same thing every other government does in this country. It was logical for them to tell us we will be retained because of the election.”