DISENGAGEMENT FOR ABSCONDING NPOWER BENEFICIARIES, SAYS FGN

The N-Power Programme was introduced in 2016 by the President Buhari Administration as a job enhancement scheme aimed at imbibing the learn-work-entrepreneurship culture in Nigerian youth between 18 and 35 for graduates, as well as for non-graduates.

500,000 youth, spread across the 774 LGAs of the country are currently enrolled in the programme and have since been deployed to teach in public schools, act as health workers in primary health centres, as agricultural extension advisors to small holder farmers in the communities and also as community tax liaison officers. Beneficiaries under the graduate category take home N30,000 monthly for their services.

It should be clarified that at the commencement of the programme, the identities of the successful beneficiaries of the Npower programme are authenticated by NIBSS (through their BVN), after which the distinctive lists of candidates are shared with each of the States. It is the responsibility of the State teams to physically verify their qualifications, age range and also confirm that they are unemployed, before they are deployed to their primary places of assignment within the various jurisdictions. Payment to the beneficiaries only commences after a confirmation of the completion of the verification exercise processes by the States, to the Federal team.

It had earlier come to the notice of the Federal team that some of the N-Power beneficiaries had either absconded from their primary places of assignment, or gained permanent employment subsequent to their commencement on the programme. The Federal team has continued to encourage feedback from the States from existing monitors, whistleblowers and members of the public (through it’s existing call centre), and has acted swiftly by initially placing such beneficiaries on suspension for a period of 45 days. Unless such beneficiaries are able to provide proof from their primary place of assignment and the State focal person that they were actually present, or absent with reason, their participation in the programme is terminated after the period of suspension. So far, 2,525 beneficiaries have been delisted, following reports garnered from the various avenues, whilst 18,674 have voluntarily resigned, having secured permanent employment.

Reports continue to emerge in a few States, however, that some beneficiaries of the Programme are said to have stayed away for long periods of time from their primary places of assignment (PPA), which instances have compelled the need for continued action against those who are seen to be undermining the smooth implementation of a well-thought out Federal Government social intervention initiative.
Consequently, to ensure seamless execution of the programme in order to achieve the set goals, the NSIO has increased the number of monitoring partners, with fresh discussions having commenced in earnest to seek enhanced supervision and the strengthening of monitoring, for effective and efficient service delivery of all components of the NSIPs.

Beneficiaries must understand that N-Power is not a charity program and, therefore, everyone captured under the scheme is expected to justify his/her engagement by demonstrating diligence, hard work and commitment to duty at their PPAs. Acts of dereliction of duty, indolence, absenteeism and indiscipline on the part of volunteers shall continue to be dealt with decisively and in line with the rules of engagement.

Given the thousands of positive stories relating to the diligence and commitment of the beneficiaries from so many quarters, however, most of whom have worked to not only transform their lives, but also transform their communities, we are persuaded that the relatively fewer cases of misconduct have not hampered the overall success of the N-Power programme. Field reports reaching us from our independent monitors, the States, the schools and other places of assignment confirm that the vast majority of the volunteers have been of good conduct and are making significant contributions to National development within their PPAs.

We, however, wish to also encourage continued feedback from the public, as we welcome constructive reports of absconding beneficiaries and similar malpractices in the field, as such information would enable us enhance programme delivery around the country. Indeed, even because Nigeria covers such a vast terrain, the public and the media would only be supporting the efforts of the Administration to reduce unemployment, by reporting the relatively few indolent, erring volunteers who were lucky to have been selected to serve under such a programme. The process has begun and can only get better if everyone embraces the programme and considers it a collective responsibility to ensure that the millions of deserving Nigerians that are the target audience of the Social Investment Programmes are impacted positively, with reduced unemployment indices in Nigeria.

Justice Bibiye
Communications Manager
National Social Investment Office

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