The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission(ICPC) as well as other relevant agencies have been urged to conduct a discrete investigation into the affairs of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
The call for the investigation is with a view to saving the souls of 500,000 beneficiaries that have been meted with grave injustice by the Ministry.
The call for the investigation is contained in a petition titled: ‘Petition against the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in respect of the disengaged 500,000 N-POWER beneficiaries in batches A & B’ signed by Comrade Bashir Usman Gobir, National Chairman, Association of Exited N-Power Beneficiaries of Nigeria.
The agencies were also urged to embark on an investigation into the proprietary or otherwise of the untimely sacking of Batches A and B N-Power beneficiaries by the Ministry under the leadership of Minister, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk.
“There should also be Investigating and finding out the whereabouts of the unpaid and/or withheld five months arrears of allowances for 14,000 N-Power beneficiaries of batches A and B as well as the non-payment of exit packages for the 500,000 beneficiaries of batches A and B as undertook by the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in line with the directives of Mr President.”
According to him, the inaccessibility and unavailability of the NEXIT portal which was introduced to enable the disengaged batches A and B N-Power beneficiaries to access the empowerment programme under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) need to be investigated.
“I therefore, in line with your statutory mandate, urge the Commission to take appropriate legal measures against any person who may be found wanting in the mismanagement of the N-Power funds, which has caused 500,000 persons untold hardships, deprivations and even deaths,” he said.
While giving the background facts about the programme, he stated that the N-Power programme, indeed is one of the laudable programmes initiated by the President Muhammad Buhari-led administration with a view to training youths, to acquire vocational skills, thereby, making them self-reliant and necessary implication, employers of labour, through the establishment of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
He added that the programme was launched on the 8th of June, 2016, as part of the Federal Government’s National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) to provide a structure for large-scale and relevant vocational work – skills acquisition and development particularly, to the teaming unemployed youths in the country.
According to him, the project was designed to last for a duration of two years as the pioneer Batch ‘A’ commenced in 2016 followed by batch ‘B’ and ‘C’, respectively.
The participants were derived from across the 744 LGAs in the country, who were entitled to receive the paltry sum of N30,000.00 per month until June 2020 stating that the total number of engaged youths under the N-Power programme according to an official statement issued by the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk stood at 500,000.00 comprising of the two batches, that is, batches A and B, 200,000 300,000, respectively.
Bashir Usman stated that “it is worthy to further note that in line with the objective of the programme and policy directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, at the exit-point, an N-Power beneficiary is entitled to exited-monetary package and/or capital, which will enable him/her to finally find something that will serve as a final settlement.”
According to him, “the burning issues and complaints are that surprisingly, and strangely, and contrary to the designed policy statement and directives of Mr President, when batches A and B’s tenure was purportedly said to have expired sometime in 2019, before the actual time, there was persistent call and peaceful demonstrations at the FCT – Abuja by the affected N-Power Beneficiaries from across the country over the non-payment of the exit package and absence of an exit plan fund for their disengagement.
“There was also the allegation that the funds of the scheme have been grossly mismanaged by the authorities vested with the management and control of same.”
The National Coordinator explained that the critical burning issues with regard to the exited N-Power batch A and B include but are not limited to: the untimely sacking of Batches A and B N-Power Beneficiaries by the Ministry under the leadership of Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk.
Also, the unpaid five months arrears of allowances for 14,000 beneficiaries of batches A and B, respectively; non-payment of exit package for the exited 500,000 beneficiaries of batches A and B.
“Also worrisome was the NEXIT portal, which was introduced to enable the disengaged batches A and B to access the empowerment programme which is no longer accessible and available therefore making it a ruse amongst other breaches and violations of the policies of the programme.”