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Page 50 Editorial Jettison the N5000 stipend for youths Last week the Senate voted against giving N5000 every month to unemployed youth, which was a…

Page 50

Editorial

Jettison the N5000 stipend for youths

Last week the Senate voted against giving N5000 every month to unemployed youth, which was a campaign promise by the ruling All Progressives Congress APC.

Apparently as a jibe Senator Philip Aduda (PDP, FCT) moved an additional prayer when a motion tagged, “urgent need to curb unemployment in Nigeria,” sponsored by Senator Bassey Albert Akpan (Akwa Ibom, Northeast).

Aduda then urged the Senate to ask the federal government to commence the payment of N5000 in line with the campaign promise of the APC. The APC saw it as the mischief it is and unanimously opposed it creating uproar.

Also when the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, put a voice vote on Aduda’s prayer, the APC senators voted against it, while the PDP senators supported it.

In a swift reaction the APC has vowed to stick to the commitment it made during campaigns to pay N5000 each monthly to 25 million most vulnerable Nigerians.

APC publicity secretary Lai Mohammed called on Nigerians to ignore “the mischievous attempt by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to confuse and mislead them on the issue.”

The party said it had devised creative means not only to pay the money but also to fulfill its other campaign promises.

It said the non-implementation of the payment policy so far is due to the fact that it was not included in the 2015 budget, which was prepared by the PDP-led Jonathan Administration, and also because of the need to first block all financial leakages.

However, at the recent 10 Year Anniversary Lecture of Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun State, the Vice President , Professor Yemi Osinbajo said that there were ongoing plans by the Buhari Administration to implement one of its striking campaign promises to pay N5000 each to the poorest Nigerians across the country.

He said that the government was currently evaluating the best ways to collapse existing cash transfer and social welfare schemes to ensure consistency and alignment.

“Once this is completed, we will implement the first phase of this programme, using recognized identification platforms and transparent payment solutions,” he said.

Playing politics or not, it is time to have a reality check and see what is foreseeable. For a start do we even know how many unemployed youth we have, besides who is actually a youth is still not clearly defined in Nigeria, where you have old men as youth leaders.

As APC is saying 25 million vulnerable Nigerians, we don’t know how it arrived at that figure as Nigeria cannot be relied to have such official categorical data, so we wonder how it arrived at the figure.

We fully support measures to alleviate poverty, but the government should be careful on the measures it takes, for instance for how long would the people get the stipend, is it forever or until the people find job?

As it is we have National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) among others meant to empower people and lift them out of poverty, and if they are strengthened they could help a lot, much more than the N5000 for our able bodied young men (women).

It is better to give them simple jobs, like street sweeping, controlling traffic or planting trees. Through this, you are engaging them and reducing crime. The government can then pay them more than N5000.

The menial jobs would be a stop gap, and as they get something, they move on, while others come up. It should not be on a permanent basis.

Even as a stop gap measure, the government must do everything to check abuse, as it happens in almost every sector, even in states that engage street sweepers, those in authority put names of relations and children that don’t do the job. In the end it has become another conduit pipe to siphon government fund.

In some societies with a sense of dignity people would feel ashamed to go and collect free food or other items, but in our cultural setting, people don’t think that it is demeaning and would scramble to get anything free, particularly from the government. They would feel it is their due, or their share of the ‘national cake.’

This means that even those with small means of livelihood would abandon it to get the stipend

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