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.
“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.