On June 26, 2020, online enrolment for N-Power Batch C beneficiaries commenced and within 48 hours, more than 1 million applications were received. One week after the portal opened, three million applications were received.
However, there have been complaints of difficulties in the registration process, fake sites and links, as well as unsuspecting applicants being defrauded.
Applicants who tried to register for the Batch C of the N-Power programme of the Federal Government across the country have narrated their experiences, some of them saying they were duped.
In Kwara State, Khadijat Alimi said she and her friends were defrauded. “The link was sent to me by someone and I shared it with some of my friends, not knowing that it was fake.
Many of us lost money as they used the Bank Verification Number (BVNs) we filled in the fake application to access our accounts. I lost N38,000 and my friend lost N140,000,” she lamented.
N-Power was created by the Federal Government on June 8, 2016 to address the issues of youth unemployment and help increase social development. The scheme was created for unemployed graduates and non-graduates between the ages of 18 and 35. It is a paid programme of a two-year duration, aimed at engaging beneficiaries in their states of residence.
The scheme currently has six categories namely; N-Teach, N-Health, N-Agro, N-Build, N-Creative and N-Tech. N-Teach and N-Health are available to only graduates who must have completed the mandatory one year NYSC programme, while N-Agro, N-Build, N-Creative and N-Tech is available to graduates and non-graduates.
On June 19, 2020, the minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, announced that the Batch A beneficiaries, engaged on December 1, 2016, will be disengaged from the scheme on June 30, 2020 while the Batch B beneficiaries, who have been working since August 1, 2018, will be disengaged on July 31, 2020. The Batch A were supposed to spend 24 months on the programme, but instead they spent 43 months.
AbdulGafar Opeyemi, one of the applicants, claimed he and others got links that belonged to some influential politicians in Kwara and Abuja.
“We were told to apply through the links. After that, they made us fill forms. They told us that it was through that means that we would be selected. But to our dismay, just last week, they said we should start doing another registration, meaning that what we did before had been cancelled.”
In Cross River, applicants allegedly paid between N2,500 and N1,500 for registration. This is despite Federal Government’s warning against bribes or fees during registration.
It is said that the Cross River State Government is using the N-Power programme to facilitate the training of 7,000 indigenes and 1,000 non-indigenes. This was revealed in a circular signed by Prince Michael Nku Abuo, the director-general of the State Migration Control Services.
In the circular, titled, “Public Notice: Details of State Government Facilitation of the Federal Government’s N-Power Initiative For Interested Indigenes and Non-Indigenes of the State,” Abuo claimed to be the state facilitator.
Eighteen persons were appointed to coordinate the registration in their local governments and the non-indigenes respectively.
But Agnes Effiong, a 21-year-old graduate alleged, “I was asked to pay a facilitation fee of N2,000. Another applicant, Jonas Akpan, also said that at cyber cafe, applicants were made to buy airtime and pay N2,500.
Apart from the coordination at local government councils, some applicants alleged that in some centres, those who registered them turned out to be scammers. According to them, the scammers tampered with their BVN, which made them lose different amounts of money in their banks accounts.
However, in Ambo Street, the situation was different as applicants expressed happiness that they were charged only N200 to download the N-Power form. One of the officials at the centre said, “This registration centre has witnessed a large turnout of applicants because we don’t charge money.”
In Bauchi, hundreds of applicants stormed commercial banks to secure BVNs, as well as the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to register for the national identity card as part of the requisite for the N-Power online registration.
Malam Muhammad Nasir, a business centre operator at Wunti shopping complex said lots of applicants who registered at his centre experienced challenges with their date of birth. He added that they tried to change their ages to meet up N-Power requirements.
“I observed that many were having challenges of not having a national identity, BVN or voter’s card. Many come for registration with copies of declaration, court affidavit or newspaper publication of change of name. Some whose names were spelt wrongly in their voters’ cards are hurriedly making efforts towards correction,” Nasir said.
Speaking to Daily Trust Saturday at the NIMC office, Fatima Aliyu Bello said she applied for a national identity card two years ago. More so, she had been on the queue from 8am until 2pm, yet she could not get her card.
Another applicant on a queue in a bank, who simply identified himself as Joseph, said, “I was unable to complete the N-Power registration because I have a problem with my BVN, which is one of the rules for registration.”
Similarly, in Kebbi State, prospective applicants described how they faced challenges because they did not have BVN or bank accounts.
Balaraba Sani, a 26-year-old divorcee, said she had a challenge with her BVN because her phone contact was changed as a result of marital issues.
Umar Bello also said he did not have a bank account, so he came to open one in order to meet the requirement of the registration exercise.
In Edo State, Esther Moses said it took her two days to register for N-Power due to difficulty in accessing the site.
“The first day, I exhausted my airtime without doing anything because the site wasn’t opening. On the second day, I had to access the site at night before I could submit my application,” she said.
Another applicant, Jimoh Muhammed, said he could not register for N-Power because of his inability to access the site.
“I tried to register without success as the site wasn’t opening. However, my friend told me to check the site at night, which I will do later today,” he said.
But Miss Esosa, who was lucky to register in her first attempt said, “It wasn’t difficult for me to register because I did mine as soon as it was announced that the site was open.”
Also, in Kano, most of the applicants said they encountered difficulty trying to access the site during the first two days the portal was opened.
Saifullahi Hassan of Gwauron Dutse quarters said he was only able to complete the registration on the second day when the portal was opened. He added that he spent hours at the internet café before he was able to complete the registration.
Saifullahi attributed the difficulty in registration to the high traffic posed by the number of applicants trying their luck on the N-Power site. Salisu Abdulrasheed, who is applying for the third time, said the current application process seemed to present better chances for him.
He said, “I applied for all the previous batches, but I wasn’t lucky. This time around, the fact that 500,000 beneficiaries from previous batches will be disengaged to create spaces for us, I am optimistic that I will make it.”
Meanwhile, internet café operators in Kano said they were making higher returns due to the number of applicants, which they said were higher than what they had in the previous batches.
In Ogun State, an Abeokuta- based applicant, Babalola Gafar said, “I registered with my mobile phone the second day the site was opened, and it took me less than 10 minutes.”
Another applicant from Ilaro in Yewa South Local Government, Olusola Saheed, said he completed the registration under 30 minutes.
A female applicant, Mrs Adekunle Bolaji, said she did her registration at a cyber cafe in Abeokuta, where she was charged N1,000. She added that the process was smooth and completed in less than an hour despite the unprecedented number of applicants.
However, Miss Salisu Oluwakemi and Bayo Adeniyi noted that they battled poor network and lack of access to the site. They explained that they only succeeded in registering after three days.
For Toheeb Olajide, a graduate of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, “My case is worrisome because I have lost my voters’ card while I don’t have the national identity card.
I went to the NIMC office in Abeokuta for the registration, but they told me that they had stopped registration for now. For now, I am helpless. However, I still hope there would be a way out before the deadline.”
In Abuja, Mrs Makinde Agnes, who runs a business centre at Jabi, said she turned back many intending applicants due to poor access to the portal. She added that despite the strategic location of her office, she was able to register only one person, who is yet to receive the final email of a successful registration.
“If the website was hitch-free, we would have registered not less than 50 applicants, which would have amounted to N50,000 because each applicant pays N1,000 for the registration. In our business centre, it doesn’t even look like N-Power exists,” she said.
Also, Mr Samuel Odekina, also an owner of a business centre in Gwarimpa, said when the registration commenced, accessing the site was terrible as it took a long time to register an applicant. However, after a week, assessing the site wasn’t challenging anymore. He added that he and his team had been able to register more than 70 applicants, and more are still undergoing registration.
Furthermore, a business centre operator at Utako, who simply identified himself as Culture, said he had registered over 20 applicants.
When contacted, the Minister’s Special Assistant on Strategic Communications, Mrs Halima Oyelade, said “Over three million people have registered already, so the website is up and running. The problem may be people’s internet network. Also, some don’t have internet services and they have to go to the cybercafe, that is not our fault. Ours is to make sure the website is accessible. And I can say the website is still up and running and people are registering.”