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N-Power program: Beneficiaries Raise Alarm

The N-Power program is one of the many schemes initiated by the Buhari administration with the Motto “Empowering Nigerian Youths for Prosperity” in June 2016. The original design was supposed to help solve youth unemployment by providing a structure for skill acquisition on a large scale. Unfortunately, the scheme has devolved into mainly a cash transfer program through which corrupt politicians embezzle funds and ‘settle’ their lackeys.

This corruption was again highlighted in the recent letter the beneficiaries, through their association, wrote to the President, asking him to summon the Minister in charge, Betta Edu, over nonpayment of their stipends for over nine months.

The National Association of N-power Beneficiaries, Batch ‘C’, claimed their stipends had been withheld within the stated period. They added that less than 70% were not paid for the last 3 months in 2022. The rest have not been paid to date, and none have been paid at all in 2023.

Mr Adeshina Adex, the National Publicity Secretary of the association who penned the letter, wrote, “Mr President, the non-payment of stipends to beneficiaries has caused immense distress, inconveniences, and hardship to millions of our unemployed graduates captured under the scheme.”

“I implore Mr President to take swift action to address this issue by summoning the Minister, the National Coordinator of NSIPA (National Social InvestmentProgramme Agency), and the Program Manager of N-Power to restore the faith of the Nigerian people in their government’s commitment to their well-being and welfare”.

The letter highlighted contradictions in the reasons the beneficiaries were given for the non-payment, ranging from funds being held by consultants rather than official accounts and funds for those months not being approved or disbursed by the presidency. Reacting to the letter, Tinubu has allegedly ordered the immediate payment of the unpaid stipends.

According to Mr Rasheed Olanrewaju Zubair, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Minister, the President’s order resulted from the Ministry’s successful “painstaking verification exercise”.

The letter and its subsequent response from the Presidency did not mention the scheme’s skill acquisition and development component. For now, it appears both the government and the beneficiaries have abandoned that, and all focus is on the cash transfer component.

There is also the ridiculousness of the excuses given for the lack of payment and the possible corruption that may be uncovered if proper investigations are done. As the saying goes, there is no smoke without fire.

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