For two months, beneficiaries of N-Power have not been paid stipends by the Federal government. Daily Trust Saturday takes a look at their plight as government promises to pay soon.
When the Federal Government initiated the N-Power programme under its Social Investment Programme in 2015, many graduates like Maimuna Ahmad heaved a sigh of relief.
“Working as a teacher in the N-Power Scheme was the first job I picked up after youth service. I finished my youth service in 2013 and did not have any job. So, when the N-Power was established, I applied, and I was one of those that got the job,” she said.
But few years down the line, the beneficiaries of this laudable progamme are dismayed because of delays in payments of their monthly stipends.
Martha Ishaku who teaches under the N-Power programme at the Senior Secondary School Lugbe, Abuja, said for the past two months life has not been easy. “Mine is better because I have someone who assists me with money to go to work, but for colleagues who don’t have anyone to give them money, they have stopped coming to school/office. Some of them have had to borrow to survive and also come to work,” she said.
Ishaku said though she can still go to work but the lack of payment has destabilized her. “My productivity level has gone down. It was not this way before. Earlier, I was motivated with the income but for the past two months, we have not been paid. Now, I’m reluctant about writing the lesson plan, and even going to class to teach,” she said.
Another beneficiary of the programme, Danladi Musa, said the lack of payment since October has affected him greatly because he depends on it for transportation and upkeep.
“The Federal Government had told us not to pick up any other job besides N-power. So, we don’t have any other jobs to earn money from. We are like unemployed people now, because our stipends have not been paid since October. Earlier, the payment was coming very late into a new month, but now for two months, we have not been paid,” he lamented.
Reports from mediangr.com reveal the monthly stipends of each beneficiary as follows: N-power Teach Programme Salary Scale, N-power Agro Programme Salary Scale, N-power Health Programme Salary Scale, N28,000 – N30,000 Monthly. N-power Community Education Programme Salary Scale, N-power Creative Programme Salary Scale 10,000 – 30,000 Monthly. N-power Tech (Software) Programme Salary Scale, N-power Tech (Hardware) Programme Salary Scale 20,000 – 40,000 Monthly and N-power Build Programme Salary Scale: 27,000 – 30,000 Monthly.
The N-Power is under the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), a social security agency created in 2015 by the Federal Government to manage social investment programmes within Nigeria. Initially, it was under the Office of the Vice President but was moved to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development which was created on May 29, this year.
Responding to the issue of delayed payment of beneficiaries in a press conference recently, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, said N-Power beneficiaries enrolled in 2016 are yet to be exited 16 months after the elapse of their contract and their October and November stipends will be paid soon.
“With regards to recent agitations and outcry against the non-approval of payments of October and November 2019 stipends to N-Power beneficiaries, the ministry wishes to reaffirm its commitment to ensuring that beneficiaries of all the Social Investment programmes access interventions designed for them within the stipulated guidelines,” she said.
“N-Power beneficiaries enrolled in 2016 are yet to be exited 16 months after the elapse of their contract. They are supposed to have been graduated to a more productive venture, and the ministry is currently making efforts to develop an exit strategy, which is non-existent.”
“In this regard, the ministry also wishes to assure all beneficiaries that all arrears will be paid as soon as the handing and taking processes are concluded and the grey areas are addressed,” she said.
Farouq said there should be no apprehension with regards to the continuity or sustainability of the Social Investment Programmes as the government will continue to adequately fund them and ensure that they reach the beneficiaries and touch lives positively.
The N-Power Volunteer Corp involves a massive deployment of 500,000 trained graduates who have assisted to improve the inadequacies in public services in education, health and civic education. Some of these graduates will also help in actualizing Nigeria’s economic and strategic aspirations of achieving food security and self-sufficiency. The modular programmes under N-Power will ensure that each participant will learn and practice most of what is necessary to find or create work.
The mandate of the programme is to provide beneficiaries with requisite skills within the designated period of either 1 year or 2 years, depending on the category, to provide work experience opportunities towards job employment, for unemployed youth, to link policies towards enhancing public services. The N-Power programme is for young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 35.
It is the hope of Maimuna and other beneficiaries of the programme that the government will make their jobs permanent and their monthly stipends paid when due as they look forward to the money being increased soon.