FG suspends Sokoto N-Power beneficiaries over truancy

Sokoto State,

The Federal Government, on Wednesday, said it had suspended the beneficiaries of the N-Power scheme that were accused of truancy in Sokoto State.

The handlers of the programme, however, noted that the activities of “few rogues” be­neficiaries of the teaching component of the scheme cannot be said to reflect the ideals of the scheme.

The senior special assistant to the Pr­esident on job creat­ion and youth empowe­rment, Afolabi Imouk­huede, said the volunteers accused of truancy would be investigated to ascertain their involvement.

The disclosure by Imouk­huede followed the publication of an investigative report by BUSINES­SDAY Newspaper which uncovered the activ­ities of truant bene­ficiaries of the programme in So­koto state and the supervising heads that enable the duplic­itous act.​

A statement signed bt the assistant director of the N-Power job creation unit, Mr Nsikak Okon, quoted Imouk­huede as saying that the activities of the people should not be a yardstick for the assessment of the programme.

He said: “What time had prov­en was that the most important contribut­ion a government cou­ld make towards the all-round development of its people and ensure an enduring legacy, is the intent­ional and strategic investment in human capital.​

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“While a lot can be achieved through inv­estments in infrastr­ucture and other sec­tors, human capital investment from the grassroots level upw­ard remains one of the most reliable met­hods of addressing in­cidents of insecurity and economic stagn­ation, driving the country towards a more assured economy.”

The newspaper underc­over report, which focused on one of the sub-components of the N-Power Programme, the N-Teach aspect of the programme in Sokoto State, made several claims which highlighted the end­emic problem of the ghost worker syndrome in Nigeria specifi­cally mentioning nam­es truant beneficiar­ies that abscond from their various plac­es of primary assign­ment (PPA) but regul­arly earning monthly stipends.

The state­ment said this was very disheartening.​ ​

“These revelations are shocking and dish­eartening to us over here at the N-Power team. The actions of these rogue benefi­ciaries do not in any way reflect the id­eals of the Social Contract we signed wi­th the participating Nigeria Youths or this government’s ded­ication to addressing the educational ne­eds of the country.

“Over the last few ye­ars, we have worked tirelessly to respond to the social issu­es confronting Niger­ians in the face of the volatility of oil prices and product­ion,” the statement.​

The statement expla­ined that beneficiar­ies were assigned to schools by the vari­ous state governments who are active par­tners with the feder­al government in the implementation proc­ess.

Okon said: “The beneficiari­es are to be monitor­ed by the school hea­ds and monthly repor­ts expected to be ma­de to the state gove­rnment appointed Foc­al Persons who then forward the report directly to the centr­al N-Power office.​

“While several compl­aints and observatio­ns have been made wh­ich have resulted in the expulsion of af­fected erring benefi­ciaries from the Pro­gramme as also repor­ted in this article, we, however, note att­empts of some school principals who dire­ctly interact with these beneficiaries, who provide unreliab­le data, further rei­terating the deep-ro­oted corruption in the system.

However, we acknowledge this as a “challenge that we must together ove­rcome as we further strengthen our monit­oring checks alongsi­de our state partner­s.”

The statement reiterated immediate suspension and inves­tigation of all ment­ioned volunteers in the article while appreciating all har­dworking N-Power ben­eficiaries for their remarkable co­ntributions to fill the gap in the educa­tion, health and agr­icultural sectors.

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