Tinubu Government suspends Npower indefinitely over Management Irregularities, Absenteeism, Abscondment and more

The Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, has announced indefinite suspension of the Federal Government Npower Programme pending conclusion of an ongoing investigation in the programme.

Dr Edu announced the decision during a live interactive programme with TVC News on Friday.

Stating reasons for the indefinite suspension of the Npower Programme, the Minister lamented that the programme had been marred by irregularities, adding that the government had launched an investigation into the utilisation of funds since the inception of the Scheme in 2016.

She noted that some of the beneficiaries of the programme were not found in their places of assignment, yet they were receiving monthly stipends.

Edu also noted that some of the NPower beneficiaries ought to have exited the programme in 2022, but were still on the payroll.

"We must go back to look into N-Power and understand what the problems are; so we will basically suspend the programme for now until we are done with proper investigation into the utilisation of funds by the N-Power programme.

"We want to know how many people are basically on the programme right now; how many people are owed and the amount they are owed. We are totally restructuring N-Power and expanding it.

"There are lots going on. We met people who were supposed to have exited the programme since last year and they are still claiming that they are teaching.

"Sometimes, we contact the schools or the places where they are working and they are not there. They are not working, yet they keep claiming that they are being owed eight or nine months’ stipends. About 80 per cent of them are not working, yet they are claiming salaries," Edu stated.

Read Also: When Npower Batch C2 Stipend Payment will commence again | Npower Batch C2 Stipend Payment News Today

The Minister's bid to restructure the Npower Programme is inline with the renewed hope agenda of the President Tinubu's Administration to ensure the upliftment of 133 Million Nigerians from Poverty before 2030.

The Federal Government had also commenced verification of the Social Register to authenticate that the individuals contained in the Social Register of poor and vulnerables, are eligible to be in the Social Register. The Social Register is a database containing the names of poorest of the poor in the Societies who are supposed beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme and Rapid Response Programme.

The plan to overhaul and restructure the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) also involved changing of key Leaders and programme implementation officers in all the four facets of the NSIP, and renaming NSIP Programmes to align with the Renewed Hope Agenda.

A brief on the Npower programme before the Tinubu Administration 

After the disengagement of 500,000 Batch A and B Npower beneficiaries (200,000 and 300,000 respectively) in June/July, 2020, the then Minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq engaged 510,000 Batch C Stream 1 Npower beneficiaries and reduced the duration of the programme to 1 year (12 months).

Recall that the Batch A and B Npower Programme under the Vice President Osibanjo's Office was designed as a 2 year skill acquisition  programme with an Exit Plan of being transited into a permanent employment as the Npower Programe is a job creation strategy of the Federal Government.

However, upon completion of the Batch A 2 years programme from 2016 - 2018, the plan to transit the 200,000 beneficiaries into a permanent employment could not be concluded in 2018, hence they were retained in the programme.

In 2018 also, the number of the beneficiaries was increased from 200,000 to 500,000 with the engagement of 300,000 Batch B Npower beneficiaries.

While the struggle to exit the Batch A into several options of Government Jobs in MDAs, Empowernment Loan named N-EXIT Loan or NEXIT Loan, absorption in State Ministries were being considered, the establishment of Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, transfer of the Npower Programme and other NSIP Programmes into the Ministry and emergency of Sadiya Umar Farouq as the Ministry tsunamically wiped out both the Batch A and B in 2020, with some beneficiaries being owed for months.

This triggered massive protests and agitation, with the key requests being the payment of Outstanding Stipends of 3 months for all Batch A and B beneficiaries, and 3-4 months Backlogs to about 14,000 Batch B Beneficiaries, and implementation of the NEXIT Transition Plan.

In a bid to resolve the cause of the protest and agitation, Farouk paid the 3 Months outstanding Stipends, paid some Batch B Backlogs and promised to implement the NEXIT Loan Programme.

For the purpose of implementation of the NEXIT Loan programme, Farouk's idea was that 500,000 Npower beneficiaries can not be engaged in a permanent employment by the government at once but can be given seed capitals to run businesses as Loans.

Farouk then partnered the Central Bank of Nigeria to enrol the beneciaries who are interested in taking the loans into the CBN  Intervention Scheme such as the AGSMEIS Loan Scheme where the beneficiaries can be given a loan offer of upto N3 Million each for 3-5years duration.

The beneficiaries applied for the specialised CBN AGSMEIS/NEXIT Loan Scheme in 2021-2022, went for the training organised by partnering Entrepreneurship Development Institutions (EDI) selected across the States of the federation, and submitted business plans.

From 2021 till Farouk left office in May 2023, the NEXIT Loan Scheme was never disbursed. Hence, protest was ongoing till she left office.

Back to 2020, particularly July 2020, upon the termination of the Batch A and B Npower Programme in June and July respectively, Farouk launched the 1million Batch C Npower Programme. 

In July 2021, 510,000 Batch C Stream 1 were engaged for 1 year which officially ended in August 2022 with full Payment of 12 months Stipends, while 490,000 Batch C Stream 2 were announced to have been engaged in the Npower programme in October, 2022.

From October 2022 till Februry, 2023, none of the 490,000 Batch C2 beneficiaries were paid a dime upon spending 5 months in the Programme.

In February 2023, close to the Presidential Election day, Farouk began payment of 3 months Stipends to Batch C2 Npower beneficiaries. While Batch C2 were being paid for 3 Months, Batch C Stream 1 also began to get alert for additional 3 Months named benevolence/exit package, covering the months of September, October and November 2022.

Before leaving Office in May 2023, Farouk announced the handover of the Ministry to the Permanent Secretary, Nasir Sani Gwarzo, pending apponitment and swearing in of a new Minister. She noted that Batch C2 Outstanding Stipends have been approved for payment by the out-going Adminstration.

The permanent Secretary did not only continue the payment of the 3 months Stipends of October, November and December 2022 but also included about 200,000 beneficiaries in the Batch C2 Npower Programme in June, 2023 to mark up the required number of 490,000 Batch C2 beneficiaries. He however suspended the payment of the Batch C1 Benevolence/Exit Package till further notice.

As at today, very many batch C2 Npower beneficiaries are yet to recieve the 3 Months Stipends of October, November and December 2022, while none of the beneficiaries has been paid for January 2023 to September 2023.

Just as the Batch C Npower Programme was designed to last for only 1 year duration (12 Months Stipends), the Batch C2 Npower Programme which commenced on 4th October 2023 officially ends in September 2023 while the beneficiaries are yet to be paid for over 9 months.

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