Why there is Delay in February Stipend - FG

The Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouk, has explained why the February Stipend of N-power Volunteers has not been paid in a recent update in Abuja, on Monday, during a visit by members of the House of Representatives Committee on poverty alleviation to the Ministry. The committee was on a familiarization visit to the ministry and was led by its chairman, Hon. Abdullahi Salame. . 

In her Statement, the Minister noted that the Ministry wishes to understand and have a full list of beneficiaries who were paid before she took over the affairs of the program. She hinted that she had requested those that were in charge of the program before to provide historical background, justification, last approval and last list of beneficiaries that were paid.

The Minister further stated that as of 25th February, 2020, there were 473,137 beneficiaries in the N-power program.

Concerning the continued delay of Stipends, she stated: 
“I know we had a complaint in October while we just got the NSIP into the ministry and we needed to understand the programme considering that it has been in existence before we came on board. We needed to understand before we start signing for a large amount of money and that was why we had the delay then.
“Unfortunately, then we were operating with a director who was overseeing the office of the permanent secretary and then in January, we had a new permanent secretary who also had to understand the nature of the programme.”
In the course of the familiarization visit by the members of House Representatives Committee on poverty alleviation, the permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Developement, Tijani Umaru, stated:
“When I came on board, the realization was very clear to me that the government is spending huge sums of money on the programme. The amount is very colossal and we wanted to read and understand because as an accounting officer, it is very instructive for me to understand what we are paying for and to be able to stand anywhere and vouch for the payments and say that we take full responsibilities for the payment.
“We issued a press statement from the ministry to say that slight delays will be experienced and this is as a result of the fact that we have to put all proposals for payment under the microscope because they are paid in billions of naira and it is simply not possible for us to just build on a foundation that we did not start.
“We apologise for any delay but we also say that it is also part of the job and we have to observe due process and ensure that due diligence is observed across the board.
He added,
“When the payment proposal comes from the minister to me, I have to ensure that what I send back to the minister is something she can comfortably sign off according to due process. No one is doubting anybody. It is not easy to sign off a file with one or two pieces of paper asking for billions of naira.
“So, to safeguard the minister, we have asked these programme to give us the historical background, give us the justification, give us the last approval and last list of beneficiaries. This is very critical for us. The minister takes responsibility and to an extent and I also take responsibility.
“When there is a query from the public accounts committee, I am to respond and if any query comes up, I want to be able to respond on a straight forward manner and defend what is right and also say that the payment was done in the interest of the people that the government decided to spend it on. Once we go beyond this phase, I believe that everything will be on autopilot and subsequent payment is going to be very fast.”
 In a conclusive statement during the meeting, the Minister noted:
“There is supposed to be an exit plan for N-Power graduates because the arrangement was that they will exit after two years and we have exceeded the time they were supposed to have exited.
 “So, now we are looking at different options of exit for them and we are working with the ministry of finance and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to see how we can exit them and support them to go into different skills they want. The exit plan will soon be out.
In a recent event, the issue of the overhauling of the NSIP has gotten to the States as the State Focal persons of the program have received lists requesting for confirmation of named benefiaries who had applied for resignation from the program. The States have concluded the confirmation process and forwarded the outcome to Abuja.

The explanation by the minister clearly indicates that the program has not ended as has been rumoured across social media, hence, she demands patience from the beneficiaries while the processes are concluded.

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