Sahara Reporters, one of the conscience of responsible journalism recently fell to the contrived ploy of mischief makers when it reported a purely misleading piece of information thrown at it by those troubled by their hubris, misconception and gross incompetence.
In the online report titled ‘Looted N-Power Funds Recovered From Consultants Engaged Under Buhari Government Will Now Be Paid To Beneficiaries —Tinubu Administration’ published on October 15, 2023 – Sahara Reporters failed to be circumspective in reading between the lines and dangerously allowed itself to be helplessly manipulated.
For the purpose of setting the records straight and saving right-thinking members of the public from misinformation, we are putting out the true position regarding the N-power funds. This is also to help Sahara Reporters in her journalistic creed devoid of hasty and ludicrous publication.
It is imperative that clarifications be made regarding certain areas in which insinuations and allegations have been made in the N-POWER Program. We feel it behoves on us to assist the new administration and bring it up to speed on the facts in order to enable the new administration to be on a proper footing and not be swayed by juvenile hormones.
In addressing recent insinuations and concerns surrounding the N-Power program including the Batches C1 and C2 Graduate Exit under the leadership of former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Farouq inherited the National Social Investment Programmes, which included N-Power as a component, and successfully administered the Batch C1 Graduate program which she extended by an additional three months, releasing funds in February 2023.
The Batch C1 and Batch C2 Graduate programmes have undergone thorough and responsible scrutiny and management.
The Batch C1 Graduate Volunteers had an exit package of 3 months extension ( September to November 2022) , while Batch C2 Graduate Volunteers that commenced in October 2022 were meant to exit their 12 months in September 2023.
For Batch C1, 90% of the beneficiaries received their stipends within three days of fund release, while the remaining 10% experienced delays due to discrepancies in their bank records. These discrepancies were actively being resolved through a rigorous validation process where validation links were sent to affected Volunteers for validation. Batch C1 consists of 450,000 graduate beneficiaries and 60,000 non-graduate trainees. Batch C1 commenced in September, 2021 and exited in August, 2022 with an exit package of three months for September, October and November, 2022. The exit package was approved and paid in the month of February, 2023.
The Batch C2 Graduate program was meticulously executed, involving extensive data collection, validation, verification and onboarding, including physical verification in collaboration with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
Batch C2 consists of 440,000 graduate beneficiaries and 50,000 non-graduate trainees and commenced in October 2022 to exit in September, 2023. They were paid 3 months arrears of October, November and December, 2022. The payment of the 3 months arrears was made in the month of February, 2023.
Funds were released for 440,000 beneficiaries, with nearly 50% receiving their payments promptly within three days in February 2023. An additional 250,000 applicants were revalidated to reach the programme’s total number.
As of the time of Hajiya Farouq’s exit, approximately 71% of Batch C2 Graduate beneficiaries had received their payments while the remaining payments were in progress, pending completion of record validation. Funds were approved and released for 3 months (October-December 2022) only, while the Batch C2 programme was expected to exit in September 2023.
From January 2023 till exit date of September, 2023 (9) months, the batch C2 beneficiaries have Not been paid their stipends owing to non-release of funds. The programme is for 12 months and only 3 months stipends have been released for the graduate scheme.
The non- graduate batch C1 are still owed 2 months stipends for the N-Build component while non-graduate for C2 have not been paid any stipends as funds have not been released for that purpose.
It is pertinent to address concerns about beneficiaries not reporting to their Places of Primary Assignments (PPAs). The Ministry collaborated with States and Local Governments to provide PPAs and appointed Focal Persons to ensure that only verified beneficiaries received payments, maintaining transparency and accountability.
It is essential to clarify that concerns about exited beneficiaries being retained in the program are unfounded. The programme’s design inherently prevents the inclusion of previously participating beneficiaries.
In terms of the number of applicants, the registration portal was designed to accommodate a specific number of applicants while ensuring eligibility based on specific criteria and budget considerations.
For the benefit of the Nigerian people, a comprehensive exit plan was developed for Batch C1 beneficiaries, including onboarding to the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program (GEEP) to provide entrepreneurship opportunities.
Additionally, a proposal for the Worknation program was in place to connect N-Power graduates with potential employers, ensuring long-term program sustainability through the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The last administration remains committed to transparency, program success and ensuring that public funds are disbursed responsibly. We believe that the current leadership will consolidate on the programme’s success and its positive impact on beneficiaries. This can only happen if tact, due diligence and professionalism is resorted to as against the hasty and furious approach to governance.