Anxiety as FG suspends N-Power scheme

Anxiety has gripped beneficiaries of the N-Power scheme as the Federal Government, yesterday, announced its suspension.

Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, said the temporary suspension of the scheme which was part of the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP) is to give way for it to be audited.

A statement by the National Programme Manager, Akindele Egbuwalo, said the minister’s declaration was against the backdrop of discoveries made after the preliminary investigations over how the programme was run.

“This action has become necessary to give room for a detailed investigation into the operations of the N-Power in the last 12 months. The total number of persons enrolled on N-Power since inception to date is 960,000 people. Most of them have exited from N-Power 1.0 and N-Power 2.0 batch A and B

“There is a need to audit the number of people in the programme, those who have exited the programme, those who are being owed, whether they reported to work or not and how funds have been utilized over this period of time.

“Recently, we discovered instances of programme beneficiaries whose participation has lapsed since 2022 but have remained on and continue to expect payments from the government. In addition, some beneficiaries must honour their obligation to the programme: They do not report to their places of primary assignments as required but still receive monthly payments. Some have other jobs and have left this bracket but are still benefiting from the payments, while those who truly worked are not paid.

“These instances have made the need for a thorough audit imperative, as we also look into claims of those being owed for up to eight to nine months’ stipends to ascertain the veracity of their claims. The graduates and non-graduate volunteers Batch C1 and C2 are in this category. We want to establish the exact number of people owed and the total amounts, thereby eliminating ghost beneficiaries.

“Preliminary findings of our audit have shown that some consultants are holding on to beneficiaries’ funds disbursed to them long ago even when their contract ended in March 2023 without any renewal. We condemn this practice and will not tolerate it going forward. Work is ongoing to identify those involved, understand why the payments didn’t get to the final beneficiaries, and recall the funds to pay those owed.

“We appeal to Nigerians to understand the rationale behind the temporary suspension and investigation of the programme as we work to restore the nation’s confidence in the programme and for the new N-Power to serve Nigerians better. Things have to be properly done for us to move forward.

“This restructuring and transformation will also birth an expanded programme to reach beneficiaries aged 18-40 (the previous age limit was 35). We are targeting five million beneficiaries in five years at a pace of 1 million per year under the graduate and non-graduate stream.

“In addition, the restructuring will accommodate some new programmes, in education, health, works, agriculture, technology, fashion, entertainment and other relevant areas of skill acquisition and employability.”

“To earn the confidence of Nigerians in the expanded programme, transparency and accountability will be the benchmark. It shall no longer be business as usual as we make concerted efforts to put the nation on the right footing, ensuring no one directly or indirectly unleashes suffering on Nigerians.

“We assure all beneficiaries with genuine claims that we will resolve their cases once we complete the verification exercise and honour all valid outstanding obligations. Nobody will be owed.”


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