By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday moved to probe the allegeded corrupt practices in the implementation of the N-Power programme across the country.
The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion on the ‘Need to investigate the arbitrariness and possible corruption in the N-Power Programme of the Federal Government’, sponsored by Hon. Oluga Taiwo.
In her lead debate, Hon. Oluga expressed displeasure over the plight of some beneficiaries of the N-Power programme, especially in the teaching profession being excluded from subsequent benefits.
She observed that the National Social Investment Programme which was established in 2015, was in fulfilment of the administration’s campaign promises to Nigerians through the implementation of the N-Teach, N-Agro, N-Tech, N-Build and N-Creativity Programmes.
While calling for the House intervention, Hon. Oluga stated that the beneficiaries who have their stipends withheld are supposed to be those with queries on truant behaviour, but it has become worrisome, especially in the South Western States where credible teachers have their stipends withheld without any queries or stipulated offence.
She urged the House to investigate the issue with the view to set the records straight if the programme is becoming discriminatory or some people are trying to sabotage the good efforts of the Federal Government aimed at helping out Nigerians, and may be carry out some form of financial mismanagement.
“The House notes that the N-Teach Programme involves the engagement of educated Nigerians with Minimum NCE, OND,HND, B.sc, M.sc and Ph.D. Degrees who are engaged and posted to teach in different schools in the 36 States and F.C.T.
“The Programme requires these beneficiaries (N-Power Teachers) to report in their States, and the State offices/vocal offices will now post them to different schools in various Local Governments within the State, where they will be posted to teach courses related to their discipline and as directed by their various school heads.
“The N-Power Programme as a form of quality assurance and check, equally engaged Independent Monitors, One per Local Government, who Monitors the attendance of the N-Power Teachers at their various places of assignment, by paying unscheduled visits to them.
“The Independent Monitors are now required to investigate the teachers and report truancy indiscipline or misconduct to the NSIP Office in Abuja through their Electronic Tablets.
“Upon receipt of the queries by the NSIP Office, they conduct an investigation to ascertain the merits of the query and now withhold payment of the erring N-Power Teacher/Beneficiary by holding his profile for 45 days and if there is no change or satisfactory response within the period, they are exited from the programme.
“The House is concerned that in recent times, there are increasing cases of N-Power beneficiaries/Teachers who are diligent in their places of official assignment and who have no queries or negative reports, yet at the end of the month, their payments are withheld and all efforts to get reinstated has proven abortive.
“The Hpuse is worried that these N-Power beneficiaries, their School Principals and the Independent Monitors have confirmed that there are no queries and yet some of the N-Power beneficiaries have been blocked and exited from the platform for no reason whatsoever, yet they keep reporting in their place of duty and have now been owed several months’ monthly allowance without pay.
“In Osun State alone, over 400 N-Power Beneficiaries/teachers are been owed monthly allowances ranging from 12months, 15months and 18months, respectively, due to arbitrary withholding of their account and unlawful exit from the Platform despite diligence of place of official assignment, which is contrary to the objectives of the N-Power, N-Teach Programme.
“That this arbitrariness in withholding accounts and non-poyment of monthly allowances signals corruption and waste of Public Funds. This is also the case in many other South Western States and some State in the North Central.
“The House is cognizant that the Funds used for the National Social Investment Programme ore monies belonging to the Federal Government of Nigeria, and Appropriated for that purpose by the National Assembly and thus, this House is constitutionally empowered by virtue of Section 88 and 89 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to investigate waste or mismanagement of the Funds,” she stressed.
To this end, the House mandated the House Committees on Sustainable Development Goals and Youth Development should immediately investigate the alleged arbitrariness in the management of the N-Teach Program and report back to the House within the next three weeks for further legislative action.