Anxiety grips NPower beneficiaries as unpaid allowance persists
Within a few months after its introduction as a temporary means of livelihood for the unemployed persons, the NPower job initiative of the Federal Government is threatened by unpaid allowance to the beneficiaries.
From Oyo to Edo and Lagos states, the cacophony of voices of non-payment of the allowance is becoming louder and discomforting. This past week, some beneficiaries of the NPower job initiative of the Federal Government in Oyo State staged a peaceful protest over non-payment of their monthly allowance since December last year.
It is the same scenario in Lagos, where some of the beneficiaries took their protest to the Lagos State House of Assembly over the non-payment of their stipends for three consecutive months.
These same beneficiaries had protested to the Assembly in January demanding the payment of their stipend, which led to the House to summon the State Coordinator of the scheme Mrs Shola Falana and the State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Lola Akande for explanation.
Again, in Ibadan, the protesters were also angry that all their efforts to identify with the focal person in charge of the scheme for communication have met brick walls, as state government officials have kept quiet on the issue.
The protesters, who stormed the state Ministry of Women Affairs, Poverty Alleviation and Social Development Secretariat Ibadan, said they have been cleared but wondered why they had not been paid since December last year.
They disclosed that their colleagues in other states are being paid as at when due and alleged plan to tamper with the scheme by the state officials in charge of payment.
Besides, the aggrieved beneficiaries from different local government areas of Edo State, who stormed the Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Edo State Council refuted report that they had been paid.
Spokesperson for the beneficiaries, Tolulope Temitayo, in a statement expressed disappointment over the neglect of some duly registered members in the payment process of December and January stipends while oher in the scheme have been paid.
He noted that many volunteers in some local government areas especially Egor with over 450 beneficiaries are yet to receive any payment. He then demanded that the self-acclaimed state coordinator appear from his hiding and explain what happened to their stipend.
The Special Adviser to the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Laolu Akande was reportedly quoted to have said that the 200,000 unemployed youths across the 36 states and FCT have been posted to their respective places of work.
Akande was also quoted to have said that those employed would start work and receive their stipend. But one of the beneficiaries, Kehinde Omolola from Akinyele local council while speaking on behalf of her colleagues said all efforts made by the beneficiaries in all the 33 local councils in the state to know the focal person of the scheme in the state has meet brick walls.
She then urged the office of the Vice President to intervene in the matter to avoid their own allowance being corned by the officials in charge.
However, an official at the Poverty Alleviation department in the ministry later chased the protesters out of the premises.
The official who pleaded anonymity confirmed that the Commissioner of Women Affairs, Mrs Atinuke Osunkoya who was not in the office at the time of the protest, is the one in charge of the programme. He said the problem might be due to error in account details supplied.
He said: “Some of them have changed their names due to marriage, if the information is different from the account details supply, will you pay. Some of them, their documents are not complete, so tell them. Please everybody should leave here. Vacate this premises.”Efforts to speak to Mrs Osunkoya were not successful.