As the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management plans a new leaf on N-Power programme, Aminu Nyako, the special assistant to the minister in this Interview with AHMID LAWAL throws more light on the planned disengagement of Batches A and B as well as the enrolment of Batch C.
The N-Power programme recommences this Friday who qualifies for the scheme and what happens to the Batch A and B that are being disengaged?
The portal would open on Friday June 26 and it is for all Nigerians to apply. Previous batches were focused on graduates, but now we are opening up for all Nigerians. The NBS said there are 40 million Nigerian youths that are unemployed to which the N-Power was able to cater for 500,000 in four years. We believe this is just one percent as there are lots of youths willing to participate in the programme.
Some Batch A and B being disengaged are complaining that they haven’t been paid their stipends. What is the problem?
Yes, the ministry is aware that some beneficiaries are yet to receive their stipends. The 2020 budget kicked off in March and we had to move into the Gifmis platform and during the transition, some records of beneficiaries were rejected by the system. Currently, the ministry is in the processing of reconciling those records and payment would be made soon. I think it is also important for the public to know that the ministry does not own the N-Power beneficiaries but it is within the TSA Accounts, so once the reconciliation is made beneficiaries will receive their stipends.
How true is it that those to be disengaged would be incorporated into a particular government programme?
The ministry had designed a transition plan that would place the Batch A and B beneficiaries of the N-Power into other opportunities. We understand that they are extremely committed to the programme; however, we need to open the programme to more beneficiaries to come on stream. The transition would seek to leverage some of the success stories that have been identified currently within the N-Power programme as a lot of them have already created jobs for themselves while others have private sector engagements.
Some would be collecting salaries and still be part of the N-Power beneficiaries. How would you tackle that?
We had the rumour and the ministry had already put a mechanism in place to ensure that it does not occur in Batch C.
Can former beneficiaries register for this new batch?
Unfortunately, no. We believe in providing equal opportunities to everyone regardless of their backgrounds. However, to ensure that these opportunities permeate our communities efficiently, we cannot allow our former beneficiaries participate in this new programme. We want to reach as many new people as possible and empower them just the way we did with the batch before them.
What happens to beneficiaries who haven’t been paid?
The programme is one that is built on transparency and trust. Therefore, we implore all aggrieved beneficiaries to exercise patience as the backlog of payments are currently being attended to. However, it is imperative to note that this does not include beneficiaries who absconded from their PPAs and beneficiaries whose accounts have been flagged by the GIFMIS
Are outgoing beneficiaries being discarded into the street?
Our beneficiaries are a vital part of our N-Power family. Over the years, we’ve grown and learnt from one another and while this exit might seem sad, it is ultimately necessary. To this end, we believe that each and every beneficiary has gained a lot from their time on the programme and we are confident that they are equipped for the world ahead of them. Moving on, they stand better chances at gaining access to loans and other forms of investments either from the government, or private sources. They are not being discarded; they are being encouraged to take a leap to greater things.
What about the devices for Batch B of the beneficiaries?
At the inception of the second batch, each beneficiary was promised a device to be used during and after the programme. Unfortunately, this is a part of the programme we cannot fulfil at the moment. Taking cognizance of the global disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on global supply chains, previous plans made for the acquisition of these devices have been forcefully halted. We take responsibility for this. The federal government has however put in place mechanisms for skills acquisition for the affected beneficiaries. We sincerely apologize for this.