Dr Akindele Egbuwalo, national programme manager of N-Power, says the Federal Government is restructuring the programme in order to expand and employ five million Nigerians in the next five years.
Egbuwalo made this known in a press statement by Rasheed Olanrewaju Zubair, special adviser on media and publicity to the minister of humanitarian affairs and poverty alleviation, Dr Betta Edu.
Last week, the government announced the suspension of the N-Power programme following sharp practices discovered.
Egbuwalo appealed to Nigerians to understand the rationale behind the temporal suspension of the N-Power programme and the subsequent restructuring it is undergoing.
He said the federal government was working to restore confidence in the programme.
“This restructuring and transformation will also birth an expanded programme to reach beneficiaries aged 18-40 (the previous age limit was 35),” he said.
‘We are targeting 5 million beneficiaries in 5 years at a pace of 1 million per year under the graduate and non-graduate stream.”
He also disclosed that the programme will accommodate some new programmes in education, health, works, agriculture, technology, fashion, entertainment and other relevant areas of skill acquisition and employability after restructuring.
“To earn the confidence of Nigerians in the expanded programme, transparency and accountability will be the benchmark. It shall no longer be business as usual as we make concerted efforts to put the nation on the right footing, ensuring that no one directly or indirectly unleashes suffering on Nigerians,” he said.
He noted that the suspension of the programme became imperative following the discovery of sharp practices and to also give room for a detailed investigation into its operations in the last twelve months.
“There is a need to audit the number of people in the programme, those who have exited the programme, those who are being owed, whether they reported to work or not and how funds have been utilised over this period.
“Recently, we discovered instances of programme beneficiaries whose participation has lapsed since 2022 but have remained on and continue to expect payments from the government. In addition, some beneficiaries must honour their obligation to the programme. They do not report to their places of primary assignments as required but still receive monthly payments.
“These instances have made the need for a thorough audit imperative, as we also look into claims of those being owed for up to eight to nine months stipends to ascertain the veracity of their claims.”
He assured all beneficiaries with genuine claims that the federal government will not owe anybody as it will resolve all cases and honour all valid outstanding obligations once the verification exercise is completed.