The media reports that the APC-led federal government has expressed its readiness to commence payment of the monthly stipend of N5,000 to unemployed Nigerian youths as partial fulfilment of its campaign promise have been generating reactions. ROSEMUND OFOEGBU CHINEDU writes that Nigerians are even more curious when the first phase of the payment will start from one million beneficiaries.
Last Monday, the media were awash with reports that the All Progressive Congress, APC-led administration under President Mohammad Buhari reiterated its determination to fulfil its 2015 General Elections’ campaign promise of paying a monthly stipend of N5,000 to every unemployed Nigerian youth. As a pilot scheme, it stated that it would soon commence the first phase by paying N5,000 to 1million beneficiaries.
Youth unemployment has been a major concern in the country for several years and the president picked up the interest to alleviate this situation during his presidential campaign where he promised to give the unemployed Nigerian youths a stipend of N5,000 monthly.
While revisiting the issue two days ago, he said that he had not relapsed on his promise but rather, the present economic situation has delayed its takeoff. In his speech, he also said that he would kick off the payment with 1million unemployed youths as against every unemployed youth. Speculations have been rife on how this could be achieved.
For instance, how are the 1million people going to be selected? What is the payment pattern? Is it going to be according to state or local government origin? Is it going to be on zonal basis? Does the federal government have a comprehensive data on the total number of unemployed Nigerians? Is the policy sustainable, especially in this season of cash crunch?
A number of Nigerians have been reacting to the latest development on the monthly stipend payment as reported in the media.
Anyaogu Ifeoma, a n Abuja-based trader, opined that “I think they will be handpicked most likely by their local government chairmen on first come first serve basis. The Buhari administration is known to pay salaries through checks, so I’m guessing it will be the same way. It can be sustained if managed properly without any shadiness and I will say let them go ahead with the 1 million people. Later, they can include the rest. Half bread, they say, is better than none”, she said.
An IT consultant who simply gave his name as Moses told our correspondent that “Doling out N5,000 stipend to unemployed graduates is quite easy to say than to implement. The selection should be based on equality and accountability and should be spread through all states regardless of the total number of unemployed youths.
“Let one of the criteria be based on identified skills. The payment should be done on officially recognized platform for auditing and accountability. Payment through banks will be suggested. This project definitely cannot be sustained taking into consideration the dwindling revenue and bad shape of the economy.
“Let the implementation be put on hold. Let the government create a condusive environment for business start-ups and sustainability. Going ahead to implement this project will end up creating more trouble than palliatives it portends to offer”, he said.
Mr. Melea Jude, a businessman, was on the view that “I think it is going to be a difficult one. The easiest way to do this is to start selecting from those who have graduated for long with their certificate and do not have a job for long. Then gradually as the economy gets the money that is necessary, other youths who are unemployed can follow up based on how many years they have stayed at home without getting a job.
“Mode of payment can be through the accounts of the individuals and if the FG thinks it is not save, then they can create accounts for these people and directly transfer the money into these accounts and issue them ATM cards as social welfare cards, with which they can withdraw this money from. When it comes to implementations in Nigeria, it is very difficult, but I believe if the spirit is there, it is a welcome idea. Many countries are into social welfare now. To ensure its continuity, they can make it a law.
“I don’t think it is good enough to start with 1 million people. If they do, when next will the next batch benefit? Is it a month, two months, a year, three years? This cannot be successfully achieved because if the next government comes in, they can decide to strike it away. So it is better if the FG creates avenues where this money could be channelled into and people being employed. I think it is better than giving just 1 million people stipends. I think it is biased”, he said.
Following the reactions of the public, there seem to be a 50/50 welcome of the development though some people are still dragging their feet trying to be convinced that this is a plausible idea.
According to reports, the potency of this development is determined by the economic viability of the country, which is currently being plagued with a series of bad decisions and therefore making Nigerians to be less optimistic about government policies and programmes. The FG, according to other respondents, should therefore go back and carefully scrutinise this idea, find out its pros and cons before taking any practical actions in order to avoid policy summersault.