Some Reflections on Katsina State S-Power Programme – By Sadiq Tijjani Inuwa
Katsina state government introduced S-Power – a social investment programme designed to recruit 5000 casual teaching staff on a 20 thousand Naira monthly stipends and the duration is 24 months.
The aim of the programme is two fold; to reduce the massive rate of unemployment and at the same time address the acute shortage of teaching staff in the various public schools across the state.
The committee saddle with the responsibility of recruiting these teaching staff had last week released the names of succesful candidates. A hearty congratulations to the selected candidates.
Any programme that will help reduce the rate of unemployment in the state is a welcome development. However a critical look on the whole issue may reveal something uncomfortable.
To begin with, the name ascribed to the programme, The SPower, was photocopied from Npower, the federal government version of social investment programme. The name didn’t make sense to many people and it exposes the apparent lack of creativity on the part of the initiators.
Why not come up with entirely different name instead of copying the federal government? It was also these lack of creativity and adequate preparations that resulted in the alleged malpractice which earlier on, led to the suspension of the programme before it was later reintroduced.
To refresh our memory, when the programme was first introduced, the process was marred by so many irregularities. The forms that were made available are far too meagre to cater for the interested candidates.
Reports say that Bakori and Kafur was given 150 forms each while the likes of Funtua were allocated little above 200. In Malumfashi local Govt Area, the forms were sold out since 6 am in the morning. Meanwhile, those that converge in the L.E.A Secretariats could not even see the forms let alone buy it. This gave room for the officials at the local Education secretariats to maneuver and allocate the forms to their kin and kiths.
I don’t blame them, anyway.The forms were too small that even if they want do justice on the sale, forms could not be enough. How can the committee brought such a small amount and expect the process to be transparent?
Worst still is how some gready politicians hazle in grabbing the forms to distribute to their people. A certain member House of Assembly bought the whole forms allocated to his constituency and have it distributed. You need no one to tell you that the forms will, of course, end up in the hands of his supporters. More disheartening also is the way his Social media praise-singers flooded the cyberspace with praises as if he has done a gargantuan work worthy of commendation. A common N20,000!
Pressure from various quarters forced the state government to suspend the programme before it was later reintroduced. Although the process was changed and forms were later filled online, It won’t change much of a thing. The same complaints persist as slots were allegedly shared to influential people. The screening exercise is also not rigourous enough. This gave credence to the insinuations that the process is not transparent. It also add to the fear that quacks or simply, unqualified people will be hired to teach in our schools.
This further exposes the lukewarm attitude exhibited on education by our leaders. Our leaders took education to the backseat. Programme upon programmes targeted at reducing the rate of poverty in the country were created but the thing is, most of the beneficiaries were usually deployed as class room teachers. Why always teaching?There is the tendency to employ quacks- the danger of employing semi-illiterates to teach in our school since the method of selection is faulty.
Another issue of concern is with regards to Finances. How could the state government get the resources to finance such social Investments initiative? Even those that were enrolled in the Federal Government social investment Initiative – The Npower programme are having issues with payments of their monthly stipends, with thousands of beneficiaries have backlog of payments for months. The 2017 candidates are yet to be deployed months after they were selected owing to the unavailability of funds. This also add to our fear that the state government may fail to sustain the payment of stipends as at when due.
Another important question that every discerning mind should ask is what will be the future of the beneficiaries? These are the people that are going to be accustomed to earning 20 thousands a month. What will happen to them after the expiration of 24months. Would they be absorbed as permanent staff or retained to continue as casual staff. Is there any arrangement in place to teach them some skills or would they be discarded, going back to square zero. We all know that 20 thousand Naira will hardly be enough to sustain one let alone save some amount to start up some business after the expiration of the programme.
If that is the case, then the whole programme will be fruitless. The beneficiaries may end up becoming a menance to the society after the expiration of their service. The earlier we realise this, the better for us.
Allah raya Jihar Katsina.
Sadiq Tijjani Inuwa wrote from Bakori, Katsina state
Facebook: Sadiq Tijjani Inuwa