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Hope Rekindles and Sen. Sandy Onoh, Representative of the Senate President, Addresses Npower Volunteers in Abuja
By Kadiri Abraham
The continuous clamour for permanency, unwarranted removal of volunteers from Npower Program as well as payment of backlog and June Stipend took a new dimension as Npower Volunteers from the 36 states of the Federation stormed Abuja, earlier today in protest of what was described as insensitivity of the Hon. Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Social Development and Disaster Management, to their needs.
The peaceful protest that began at Unity Fountain, Abuja by 9:00 A.M and later taken to the entrance of the National Assembly Complex, where the helpless volunteers persevered the heavy downpour in the morning to drive home their demands for the minister and by extension, the Federal Government, to be serious in addressing their request.
Recall that Federal Government, under the President Buhari-led Administration, had recruited 200,000 volunteers in December 2016 and later 300,000 additional volunteers the following year, 2017, into different programs – N-Agro, N-Teach, N-Healt and N-Built.
Before this time, the program was under the office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, whom the volunteers considered as living above board, in terms of prompt payment of stipend, transparency, sensitivity to the needs and yearnings of the volunteers, amongst others. However, according to the volunteers, since the creation of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Social Development and Disaster Management and the consequent appointment of Hon. Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, who remains adamant, life has been very miserable.
To drive home their demand that they consider legitimate, following the promise of APC government prior to the 2019 General Election that the determining factor for permanency remained our PVC and the resultant massive support that came in ripple form, leading to the victory of President Buhari. According to the volunteers, in every country of the world, a responsible government must consider a promise made to 500,000 people. A contrary action will lead to absolute loss of confidence in the government of the day.
The youngsters who appealed to Nigerian leaders argued that returning them to the street will add to the numerous challenges associated with the youths in the country, stressing that they are very ready to work instead of becoming violent, thereby constituting nuisance in the country.
Back to the peaceful protest and the take home today
Following last week’s protest and promise of the Senate President Rt. Hon. Ahmed Lawan, to meet with the volunteers today, he delegated Distinguished Senator Sandy Onoh, the Senator representing the good people of Cross River Central Senatorial District amidst rain, to pass a message that gave the volunteers who came out in hundreds, a ray of hope.
The Senator assured the volunteers that all the request in the letter addressed to them will be met, stating that they will ensure that relevant Ministries, Agencies and Department are involved in the process.
“Now listen to me and I am being very honest, the demands that you have made are valid.
Every nation must, as a priority, take care of its youths; the energy of the youth is a substance of a nation. The tomorrow of this nation is also founded in you. It is wrong for leadership not to take particular recognition of the youths’ yearnings and aspiration. If you listen to me and the voice which I speak, I am very emotional; I share in the things you have said, I share in the very good conduct you have exemplified here today.”
Continuing, he said: “Let me, on behalf of the Senate President say this – when we were coming here, we read through all that you have said. We are going to take this up very seriously with all the institutions of government and your needs will be taken care of. I assure you based on our integrity, that we will do all to ensure that all that you have reflected here will be taken care of.”
The protest was taken to Federal Secretariat, where representatives of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Social Development and Disaster Management received letter and addressed the Npower Volunteers, stressing that the issue of permanency is not tenable for 500,0000 people. However, a meeting will be scheduled between the Minister and representatives of Npower Volunteers across the 36 states for a discussion.