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06.07.2024 Featured 2 Years After Promising 5,079 Unemployed Youths Work Tools, HYPPADEC Hasn’t Delivered

Published 6th Jul, 2024

By Daniel Ojukwu

There is growing disquiet among the beneficiaries of a youth transformation programme organised by the National Hydro Power Producing Areas Development Commission (N-HYPPADEC).

In 2022, the commission held skill acquisition programmes for 5,079 youths from across six states: Plateau, Kebbi, Kwara, Kogi, Benue, and Niger. These government-backed programmes included training in fisheries, ICT, printing, agriculture and several others for unemployed youths.

Upon completion, each trainee was to receive a starter pack with which they would set up businesses and convert their knowledge into a self-employment opportunity.

In 2024, the beneficiaries are still waiting on the government to provide these packs. In newspapers and on its website, the N-HYPPADEC claims it will supply the packs but continues to tell trainees to wait for them.

Some of the aggrieved participants spoke to FIJ on condition of anonymity, detailing how they had spent two years waiting for packs that never came.

https://leadership.ng/n-hyppadec-distributes-starter-packs-to-5079-graduates
News report from October 2023

On several occasions, trainees in Minna, Niger State, staged protests at the commission’s office, but security agents thwarted these efforts. The irate trainees told FIJ they believed Abubakar Yelwa, N-HYPPADEC Managing Director, was dealing with them in bad faith.

The last time the commission communicated officially with them was on September 6, 2023.

In a statement signed by Tanko Wakili, its head of press and public affairs, the commission told beneficiaries to liaise with HYPPADEC state coordinators in their respective states “to register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to enable them not only get the starter packs but access grants and other opportunities from relevant organisations”.

N-HYPPADEC statement
N-HYPPADEC statement

They also committed to footing the bill for the beneficiaries’ CAC registrations.

A TWO-YEAR-OLD UNKEPT PROMISE

On March 18, 2022, Boss Mustapha, the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) at the time, launched the youth transformation programme in Minna.

“About 5,000 youth will be part of this transformation programme which will be held twice this year within a period of three to six months during which they will receive training in vocational/technical, domestic and agricultural enterprise programmes,” Sunday Dare, the minister of youth and sports development, said on Mustapha’s behalf.

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“For vocational and technical programmes, there will be training in computer appreciation, computer hardware maintenance and repairs, electric installations and maintenance, software engineering, web designing and development, aluminium fabrication, tiling, solar installation and inverter manufacturing, among others.”

The plan, according to Yelwa, was for six states to benefit first and four states to follow. After this announcement, the training kicked off. HYPPADEC announced there were 30 programmes in 50 locations across the states.

Some trainees. Photo Credit: HYPPADEC website
Some trainees. Photo Credit: HYPPADEC website

Despite the training programme reaching its completion, beneficiaries say they remain unemployed and the idea behind the initiative will fail if they do not get the promised materials.

“We keep requesting updates, but nothing happens,” they told FIJ. “It led to a stage where aggrieved beneficiaries organised a protest on July 1, but the commission used DSS to chase us.

“Members of the commission pleaded with us to not protest again because, according to him, we would sabotage the name and effort of the M.D.

“They told us not to panic and showed us a warehouse where they kept some items which they said would be unveiled soon. But they did not allow us to take a picture of them.”

While this was ongoing, the commission issued a statement condemning the protesters, accusing them of failing to come forward, register their businesses and comply with their trainers. The commission said suppliers had begun to deliver kits and there would soon be a distribution exercise involving Remi Tinubu, the wife of the president. It also said it would give 50 percent discounts for CAC registration. This is contrary to its original free CAC commitment.

BENEFICIARIES, YELWA DISAGREE

Abubakar Yelwa
Abubakar Yelwa

Reacting to this statement, beneficiaries told FIJ the commission was saving face because of several corruption allegations bedevilling it.

“Some of us already have our companies and business names registered with CAC, so we aren’t waiting for that,” the beneficiaries told FIJ. “We also keep in touch with our trainers, and there has been no development.

“They are saying we should bring guarantors but never asked this of us before. The last time we had an official message from them was on September 6, 2023.”

On Thursday, FIJ called Yelwa, but he did not take our calls. The day after, he sent a text message explaining the commission’s position.

“The challenge we had was that we gave the contract for the starter packs in November 2023, and while making efforts to pay for the mobilisation, we ran out of funding and the delay caused a rise in prices by about 110 percent,” Yelwa’s message read. “The new prices went beyond our budget. A month back, we were able to come out of the blue and direct the beneficiaries to contact our state offices to obtain a guarantor form for their parents or guardians to guarantee the items we were giving them would not be transferred to third parties.

“That is yet to be complied with. We took their representatives to our warehouse in Minna and showed them the stock we had started receiving. As soon as the supplies are completed and they return the guarantor form, we are flagging off distribution without any hitch.”

FIJ asked if the commission communicated this situation to the beneficiaries, but Yelwa said it was under no obligation to do so.

“We were not under obligation to tell them the funding challenge as we know it is normal and can be surmounted as we did,” he replied. “The project is now 100 per cent funded by the commission. However, we are still looking for funding partners to come up with new phases.

“The commission was faced with some more urgent demands, like preparing for the flooding season ahead of us by building houses for those to be affected. To God be the glory, we have reached an advanced stage of financing the suppliers. The snag here is anyone without a duly certified guarantor will not benefit from the exercise.”

When FIJ spoke again with the beneficiaries, they said no one asked them to present guarantors and the only time they had to was when they began the programme.

“We already submitted the guarantors’ details. They did not communicate with us, so we don’t know what they want,” they told FIJ.

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Published 6th Jul, 2024

By Daniel Ojukwu

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