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February 21, 2024
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FG suspends N-Power scheme, begins its audit

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By Ahmed Ubandoma

The Federal Government has temporarily suspended the N-Power Programme of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to give way for proper audit of the programme.

The Federal Government kick-started the N-Power scheme on June 8, 2016 to address issues of youth unemployment and help to increase social development.

The scheme was created as a component of government’s National Social Investment Programme.

Dr Akindele Egbuwalo, National Programme Manager of N-Power announced its suspension in a statement he issued on Sunday in Abuja.

Egbuwalo stated that the suspension and audit of the scheme became necessary to give room for a detailed investigation into N-Power’s operations in the last 12 months.

He added that 960,000 Nigerians were enrolled in the scheme since its inception to date.

“There is the need to audit the number of people still under the scheme because most of them have exited from N-POWER 1.0 and N-POWER 2.0 Batch A and Batch B.

“The audit is also necessary to establish the number of people that have exited the programme; those who are being owed; and how funds have been utilised over the years,’’ he explained.

Egbuwalo stated that some beneficiaries who concluded their programme since 2022 were still expecting payment from government.

“Recently, we discovered instances of programme beneficiaries whose participation had lapsed since 2022 but have stayed on and continued to expect payment from government.

“Some beneficiaries 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 payments, while those who truly worked are not paid.

“These instances call for a thorough audit of the scheme,’’ he stated.

Egbuwalo assured Nigerians that government would prioritise claims of those owed between eight months and nine months stipends after ascertaining the veracity of their claims.

“Graduates and non-graduate volunteers Batch C1 & Batch C2 are in this category. We want to establish the exact number of people owed and the total cost implication to eliminate ghost beneficiaries.

“Our preliminary findings show that some consultants are holding on to beneficiaries’ funds disbursed to them long ago, even when their contract ended in March 2023 without a renewal.

“We condemn this practice and will not tolerate it going forward,’’ he stated.

Egbuwalo added that work was on-going to identify culprit consultants to ascertain why the payments did not get to the beneficiaries.

Such funds would be recalled and paid to affected beneficiaries, he assured.

“We assure all beneficiaries with genuine claims that we will resolve their cases once we complete the verification and honour all valid outstanding obligations.

“We appeal to Nigerians to understand the rationale behind the temporary suspension and investigation of the scheme as we work to restore the nation’s confidence in it,’’ he stated.

Egbuwalo expressed government’s determination to restructure and expand the programme to accommodate persons within the ages of 18 years and 40 years as against the previous age limit of 35 years.

“The restructuring will accommodate some new programmes in education, health, works, agriculture, technology, fashion, entertainment, and other relevant areas of skills acquisition and employability.

“We are targeting five million beneficiaries in five years at a rate of one million beneficiaries per year under the graduate and non-graduate streams,’’ Egbuwalo also stated. (NAN)

Edited by Alli Hakeem

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