How Ex-President Buhari and Officials Mismanaged €44Million UN-Funded Jubilee Programme, Abandoned Over 20,000 Enrolled Nigerian Graduates | #NwokeukwuMascot
Fellows of the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme (NJFP) created by the former President Muhammadu Buhari government in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2021 have lamented total abandonment after being shortlisted for the programme.
The shortlisted 20,000 unemployed graduates who lamented that since the inception of the programme, only about 2,183 of them have been matched to organisations with monthly stipend of N100,000 as stipulated by the programme, alleged that the programme was hijacked and compromised by the NJFP team leader, William Tsuma and the Nigerian representative of the UNDP, Muhammad Yahya.
The programme created by the former President Buhari government was aimed at matching 20,000 unemployed graduates in Nigeria to private and government sectors with a monthly stipend of N100,000 for a period of three years.
The programme was also meant to be an opportunity where the fellows gain relevant experience and skills that would make them employable and/or become self-employed.
In August 2022, Buhari while launching the programme had said, “We estimate that about 2million people would join our labour force annually. We continue to work with our partners to provide more opportunities to create jobs and the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme in partnership with the United Nation’s Development Programme being one of such opportunities.”
“We believe that as this programme creates new opportunities for 20,000 recent graduates annually, the beneficiaries will maximise the opportunities presented to them and maximise their 12 months of engagement on the programme.
“I will encourage all eligible Nigerians to apply for this programme, I also urge private sector organisations in Nigeria to join us on this programme to provide work placement opportunities, mentors, and funding to support the programme.”
However, on Monday, fellows of the programme from across the country, in different accounts to SaharaReporters, said they had been completely abandoned and “as a matter of fact, we are completely frustrated by the NJFP Team in charge of the programme.”
The fellows said that the EU supported the programme with €44 million and that over 116,000 graduates applied for the programme.
According to one of them, “For qualification determination, a series of cognitive and assessment tests were conducted for us, including a Soft Skills Training conducted by Jobberman Ltd. The assessment phase ended sometime in June 2022, as the 20,000 fellows got shortlisted; after which the matching phase began early September, 2022. 2,183 out of the 20,000 fellows formed the first batch of the programme, who were purportedly matched with different organizations.
“The NJFP Team led by Mr. Mohammed Yahaya (Nigeria Representative to UNDP) promised to release the second batch of the matching process in October, 2022, but unfortunately we did not get any information regarding that until December, 2022, when the Team suddenly announced that the matching process would no longer come in batches but individuals would get matched as soon as Host organizations were/are available within our locations.
“This development threw us into a total confusion as we could no longer confirm the number of fellows matched with organizations. Early December, 2022, the NJFP Team held aTweeter space meeting with us after much complaints as to why there was/is much delay in the matching process, as well as their perpetual refusal to release the complete list of the shortlisted candidates.”
They noted that the team reluctantly communicated that the delay was due to lack of host organisations.
“We then suggested a number of methods, one of which is using the NYSC method - inviting organizations through tv, newspaper and radio advertisements, but they rejected all the suggestions.
“The NJFP Team finally released the complete list of the successful candidates after several online protests carried out by us. And they promised to fast track the matching process. We waited for a long time without receiving any update from the team.
“After another agitation was launched by us, few more fellows were matched, who till date have not been unbothered. The matched fellows were warned not to resume work with their host organizations until they were unbothered.
“When we realized that something was wrong with the integrity of the programme, we took it upon ourselves, moved round the streets to invite organizations to apply. We got several of them who registered but most of them were not attended to by the NJFP Team.
“It is just quite unfortunate that over 12,000 fellows have NOT been abandoned. The NJFP team no longer picks our calls nor responds to messages from both fellows and Host organizations. They have completely abandoned us.
“Fellows who were onboarded and working with their host organizations are not being paid their monthly stipends. A number of already matched fellows have been delisted by the NJFP Team for some obvious reasons.”
“The team has also come up with an idea of appointing Regional and State Focal Persons to make the programme effective, but all these are mere promises. A programme of one year has got to three years. It is clear that the integrity of the programme has been compromised.
“And we the graduates are terribly suffering. We therefore, humbly cry to the Federal Government and the other well-meaning Nigerians to come to our aid. We are frustrated,” they lamented.