By Olugbenga Salami
Federal Government has been advised to merge its Need for Power, N-Power programme with the already existing ones being managed by the National Directorate of Employment, NDE so that it would be more efficient and effective among the people.
The call was made by the Senate Committee on Labour and Employment during an interactive session held with the management of the Ministry of Labour and Employment as well as the heads of various parastatals under it in Abuja.
According to the former chairman of the committee, Senator Suleiman Nazif, PDP-Bauchi North, such arrangement would make the empowerment and capacity building programme more effective, impactful and reachable to Nigerians in need of such interventions
Senator Nazif, who now chairs the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, affirmed that for the federal government to succeed with the N-Power programme, it must be domiciled under the Ministry of Labour to be specifically driven by the NDE.
He explained that the Directorate has the required platforms and structures across the 36 states and Abuja as well as the 774 local government areas of the federation to carry out the empowerment programmes more effectively.
“Empowering Nigerians through social intervention programmes by any government is highly commendable but the required success of such a programme lies on anchoring them on solid structures which NDE has, and not elitist structures anchored on laptops being presently used.
“The Labour Ministry is the Ministry any serious government should focus attention on in developing the people through all the different agencies under it like the NDE, NSITF etc.
“The idea of coming up with empowerment or social intervention programmes without anchoring their implementation on solid existing structures built over the years , has always been counterproductive and will continue to be so”, he stressed.
Subscribing to Nazif’s suggestions in their separate remarks, the new chairman of the committee, Senator Abu Ibrahim, APC-Katsina South and the Chairman, Senate Committee on Ecology and Climate Change, Senator Bukkar Abba Ibrahim, APC-Yobe East, noted that for the intervention programmes or empowerment to be more visible, already visible agencies on ground like the NDE, should be empowered to drive it.
Earlier in his submission, the NDE Director General, Dr. Nasir Ladan Argungu said the Directorate which was established in 1986 has 118 skills acquisition centres across the 36 states of the federation and Abuja, 53 Agricultural training centres aside functional offices in all the 36 states of the federation and 691 out of the 774 local government areas of the federation.
Argungu, like heads of the other agencies present at the session, complained of inadequate funding by the federal government on yearly basis as the major problem bedeviling the operational capacity of their respective establishments.
Similarly, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote described paucity of fund as the major problem facing the ministry.
The committee chairman however promised to help the ministry out of the problem in the 2019 budgetary appropriation while also soliciting the support of the ministry and its various parastatals.