*Program Bedeviled By Alleged Corruption, Outstanding Payment Of Stipends For Months
Amid outstanding payments running to over nine months as well as alleged corruption, the Federal Government has announced the indefinite suspension of the N-Power program introduced by the immediate past Buhari’s administration in 2016.
MetroBusinessNews (MBN) checks reveal that the objective of the program as a stop-gap for graduates and non graduates looking for job to have a little income, among others has been compromised as it has been enmeshed in alleged corruption typified by lack of supervision and monitoring of participants, haphazard payments pattern as while some were fully paid the N30, 000 for the graduates category with results, others were either not paid at all or paid in piece meal.
Infact the supervisory ministry was said to be basically preoccupied with only disbursement of funds without verifiable register and monitoring to know whether the participants were at their primary assignments or not.
For instance, most of the participants were paid three months arrears for last October, November and December 2022, recently while most of the participants have not been paid a dime this year.
Early last year, the handlers of the program wrote to the participants to update their accounts, with the Place of Primary Assignments (PPAs) distributed to them , urging them to report at the various centres.
But according to some of them, who spoke with MBN, nothing has been heard until the advent of this administration, which has decided to suspend the program indefinitely.
Similarly, the other category, regarded as trainees, who are either graduates but awaiting results or non graduates were recently informed to get ready for posting to various PPAs, with N10, 000, monthly stipend agreed to be paid, without telling them the commencement date, but uptil the time if this report, nothing has been heard from the government.
However, Betta Edu, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, disclosing the indefinite suspension during her appearance on a Saturday TVC news program said the new administration will look at what has been done with a view to correcting any areas they are not comfortable with.
She explained that the decision was prompted by irregularities within the scheme, highlighting that the government has initiated an investigation into fund usage since the program’s inception.
The Minister asserted that certain recipients are absent from their designated work locations while still anticipating their monthly allowances.
According to her, some of the beneficiaries ought to have exited the program in 2022 but are still on the payroll.
“We must go back to look into N-Power and understand what the problems are so we will basically suspend the programe for now until we are done with proper investigation into the utilization of fund into the N-Power program.
“We want to know how many persons are basically on the program right now, how many persons are owed, amount they are owed. We are totally restructuring the N-Power and expanding it.
“There are lots going on. We met people who were supposed to have exited the program last year and they are still claiming that they are still teaching.
“Sometimes we contact the school or the places where they are working and they are not there. They are not working yet they keep claiming that they are being owed eight or nine months stipends.
“About 80% of them are not working yet they are claiming salaries”.
The N-Power Program was launched by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in 2016 to address the issue of youth unemployment and help increase social development.
The scheme was created for unemployed graduates and non-graduates between the ages of 18 and 35.
The Program was built to prepare young Nigerians for a modern, globalized economy by helping equip youths with skills and certifications for emerging global markets.