Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with a number of perennial social problems including unemployment and high morbidity and mortality. N-Power is the Nigerian Government’s employment vehicle, that provides jobs for Nigeria’s vast graduated sub-population. I have really not met a single person employed under the Health Corps, except for last week.
She was speaking loudly to a hospital security. I was quite sure she seemed miffed from the looks on her face and the broad gesticulations. The N-Power T-shirt was the defining seal. One look and I knew she is a beneficiary of the programme.
According to the official website of the N-Power programme, it comprises four corps, viz-a-viz – N Power-Agro, N Power-Health, N Power-Teach, N Power-Tax. They are all part of the National Social Investment Programmes of the Federal Government.
This is how the website describes their activities;
“Skills and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth and social development. Despite the current high level of unemployment, harnessing Nigeria’s young demography through appropriate skill development efforts provides an opportunity to achieve inclusion and productivity within the country. Large-scale skill development is the main policy thrust of the N-Power Programme”.
N-Power program only thrives on the skills of the unemployed. This is the foundation of the program and it is the first major flaw for N-Health.
I will tell you why in a second. Read a little more about what the program is all about:
“N-Power is also linked to the Federal Government’s policies in the economic, employment and social development arenas. N-Power addresses the challenge of youth unemployment by providing a structure for large-scale and relevant work skills acquisition and development while linking its core and outcomes to fixing inadequate public services and stimulating the larger economy.
“The modular programmes under N-Power will ensure that each participant will learn and practice most of what is necessary to find or create work. The N-Power Volunteer Corp involves a massive deployment of 500,000 trained graduates who will assist to improve the inadequacies in our public services in education, health, and civic education. Some of these graduates will also help in actualizing Nigeria’s economic and strategic aspirations of achieving food security and self-sufficiency.
“N-Power will also be a platform for diversifying the economy. N-Power is preparing young Nigerians for a knowledge economy where equipped with world-class skills and certification, they become innovators and movers in the domestic and global markets. Nigeria will have a pool of software developers, hardware service professionals, animators, graphic artists, building services professionals, artisans, and others. N-Power also focuses on providing our non-graduates with relevant technical and business skills that enhance their work outlook and livelihood.
Now, a peek into a video about N-Power Health…
How does N-Health work?
Why am I skeptical about this program achieving its desired objective?
Let us start from the top.
It is no longer news that there is a shortage of medical and health workers in Nigeria. The irony is that a whole number of health workers still remain unemployed in the system.
The N-Power programme rides on the back of ‘skills’ of unemployed graduates. This is good with a face value as the program is limited. It promises to solve the cater for the unemployed graduates as well as provide a first-class public health service for women and children especially.
I will be asking some salient points that would prove that the N-Power may just another flash in the pan.
WHY VOLUNTEERS… WHY NOT FULL STAFF?
This is the weakest link in the N-Power program.
The word ‘volunteer’ used to describe potential graduates joining the program is a poor choice of word. It connotes that the job is not a permanent job, even though the N-Power video assures otherwise.
Would the new ‘volunteers’ have the full privileges and entitlements of Federal workers or is this for expedience?
These questions remain unclear and ambiguous, leaving doubt about the true intentions of actually creating N-Power.
IS N-POWER POLITICALLY TIME-BOUND?
Before this administration, was the NEEDS Assessment Program of the President Jonathan Administration. Depending on whom you speak to, both programs are touted as being superior to the other.
A new political administration would always coin a new social intervention program that would never outlive their administration.
UNDER WHAT MINISTRY IS N-POWER?
The normal structure of the Federal Service is Ministerial in its setting. Virtually every governmental programs are overseen by Federal Ministries. Would I be correct to assume that N-Power is a mega-octopus, with its tentacles being in the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Powers? Is it a Ministry that is solely controlled by the Ministry of Labour (since this Ministry is all about Federal Staff).
Should I say the N-Power is a special-purpose Presidency program?
Is the N Power Health, as a core program of the Federal Ministry of Health, going to seamlessly continue into another government coming into power?
Too many confusion for a body that is supposed to outlive this administration. This should matter for a body that already claims to influence about 500,000 lives. I would never wish to have my life built on an ephemeral and highly ‘volatile’ concept.
SHOULD N-HEALTH BE BASED ON “SKILLS” ALONE?
As I have already pointed out, the N-Power program depends on the skills of a large number of the unemployed graduate. For N-Health, this criteria alone would not be sufficient.
From the N-Health Corp page online, there is a minimum job criterion that every volunteer must meet. You simply have to be a graduate from the approved disciplines for eligibility to be secured.
It could be misleading when the program is tagged a ‘skill’ oriented program. This means that there is really nothing out of the ordinary that N-Health hopes to achieve.
Analysis of the programme raises further disturbing questions. The feeling I get is that the government means well for Nigerians by creating N-Power. I know this to be true because my “inner eye” says so. However, the foundation is not built on solid ground.
Personally, I favor a system where government intervention is near nil or non-existent. The back and forth nature of N-Power, like previous programmes, is in itself destabilizing.
Look at it this proven way – Government involvement in creating ‘pseudo’ jobs will be hailed by all. But as the administration comes to a close, these volatile jobs that a lot of people have become used to suddenly disappears. It is back to square one!!!
A bloated government work-force is not the solution for health in Nigeria. The solution would come from a leadership oriented, private sector-driven, policy dexterous government who value the lives of Nigerians and is ready to chart a new course and environment for all to work, flourish and prosper!!!