By Ese Awhotu
The federal government yesterday explained why the monthly stipend given to N-Power beneficiaries has not been paid for the past two months.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, at a press briefing on Monday, disclosed that the payment delay was due to the current handing over process of the N-Power to her ministry.
She said , “The ministry is currently engaging the NSIP Cluster Heads for clarifications; in essence, the handover and taking process for these two programmes is still ongoing.”
Additionally, she said that the retention of N-Power beneficiaries who should have exited was also responsible for the delay.
“That 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,” she said.
The minister said the ministry was making efforts to develop an exit plan and that the money owed would be paid to beneficiaries upon conclusion of the handing over process.
She assured the public that the government will continue to fund its Social Investment Programmes and ensure that it touches lives positively.
The text of her press briefing reads: “The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development came into existence in August 2019. The mandate of the new Ministry was communicated in October 2019. Among the Agencies and Programmes reposed on the Ministry was the National Social Investment Programme.
“The N-Power initiative is one of the four clusters of National Social Investment Programmes that were designed to stem the growing tide of poverty, unemployment and Social Insecurity in Nigeria. N-Power is the job creation and economic empowerment component of the NSIP for young unemployed Nigerians.
“I have received initial briefings from heads of Agencies and Programmes reporting to the Ministry from October 2019, however on account of the technicalities involved, the handing over process is still on-going. 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.
Inform that the Home Grown Feeding Programme, which is also a cluster of the NSIP has continued to run smoothly since its transfer to the Ministry.
“Except for the four states that were submitted during my absence and this has already been treated.
“That there are information gaps with regards the monitoring and evaluation mechanism and framework of the N – Power and the GEEP programmes. Some officials of NSIP are of the view that the programmes should be completely restructured.
“The Ministry is currently engaging the NSIP Cluster Heads for clarifications; in essence, the Handover and Taking process for these two (2) programmes is still ongoing.
“That 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;
That the Ministry is currently making efforts to develop an exit strategy, which is non-existent.
“I wish to seize this opportunity to assure all N- Power beneficiaries and indeed all Nigerians of the Ministry’s commitment to Mr President’s promise to stem poverty in the country as well as lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
“This is a clarion call we must all answer for the sake of our fatherland. This present glitch needs addressing if we are to commence the assignment at hand with the required traction. 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. 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. Finally, while craving for patience and understanding, I wish to thank all the NSIP Managers, who are taking great pains to explain the technicalities of the project to the Ministry officials to ensure a smooth transition.”