The Federal Government of Nigeria has suspended the N-Power program, leading to the loss of jobs for over one million Nigerians. The N-Power program was created during the tenure of former President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle youth unemployment by providing a monthly stipend of N30,000 to beneficiaries.
This program is part of the National Social Investment Programme initiated by the previous government. It aimed to onboard 1.5 million unemployed Nigerian youths, primarily graduates, offering them capacity-building opportunities, targeted employment, and structured career development.
As of February this year, the Humanitarian Ministry in Abuja reported that the program had enrolled 200,000 youths in Batch A, 300,000 in Batch B, 510,000 in Batch C1, and 490,000 in Batch C2. While the exact number of beneficiaries who left the program is not confirmed, nearly all enrollees in batches C1 and C2, roughly one million people, were still part of the program.
Many N-Power beneficiaries worked as teachers in primary schools across Nigeria. However, the Federal Government recently announced the indefinite suspension of the program due to irregularities.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, made this announcement during a live interview on TVC News.
Edu explained that the program had encountered issues, including beneficiaries not being present at their assigned locations while still receiving stipends. Some beneficiaries should have exited the program in 2022, but they remained on the payroll.
She said, “We need to check N-Power and find out its problems. So, we’re stopping the program for now while we investigate how the money for N-Power was used.”. We want to know how many people are basically on the program 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 program since last year, and they are still claiming that they are teaching. Sometimes, we call the schools or the places where they should be working, but they’re not there.
They’re not doing their jobs, yet they keep saying they should be paid for eight or nine months.. About 80 percent of them are not working, yet they are claiming salaries.”
The N-Power program has faced irregularities, and the Humanitarian Ministry responded to inquiries about ongoing investigations in December 2022. According to the ministry, there were concerns about fraud allegations within the program.
The ministry said, “We want to tell you this: the ministry has a good system for picking the right people from all over the country for the program. We work with our service provider to bring in, train, and send program participants to the places they need to work.
But when we found out that some people who handle the money for the program might be doing bad things, we quickly told ICPC to investigate it deeply. We know that some people have been asked questions as part of this ongoing investigation.”
The former Permanent Secretary highlighted that the ministry had reinforced its systems to prevent anomalies and similar occurrences in the future. He also mentioned the collaboration with the ICPC to ensure transparency and accountability in implementing the N-Power and other National Social Investment Programs.
The ministry encouraged all program beneficiaries to continue their work diligently, assuring them that monthly stipends would continue to be paid as expected. Additionally, they urged the public to report any irregularities in the implementation of the National Social Investment program through provided email channels and phone numbers.