By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja – The Federal Government said that the political will demonstrated in the execution of the N-Power programme, insulated it from corruption and other forms of sharp practices that marred similar youth empowerment endeavours in the past.
Communications Manager, National Social Investment Office (NSIO) Justice Bibiye, in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, said the transparency in running the programme was also responsible for its huge impact on its beneficiaries and the economy.
He said that media reports highlighting minority views expressed by a few critics who made bogus allegations bordering on corrupt practices in the implementation of N-Power did not reflect the true picture on ground.
Bibiye said that N-power, one of the social intervention programmes of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, remained the most successful government-driven youth empowerment schemes in history.
“It is either those critics have lost touch with existential realities as it concerns this government’s strict approach in implementing its policies and programmes, or that the resounding successes recorded, as evidenced in the outpouring of sincere and honest testimonies by the beneficiaries, is lost on them.
“We are aware that some persons have assumed the role of perpetual pessimists of the SIPs, following the institution of processes and procedures that frown at selfish tendencies and corrupt practices at the NSIO.
“We, however, owe it a duty to Nigerians to continue to set the records straight whenever naysayers come up with falsehoods to mislead the public.
“We wish to state categorically that there are no N-power ghost beneficiaries neither is the programme embroiled in corruption as alleged by those who have decided to see nothing good in the scheme.
“From application, selection, deployment and payment of volunteers, the process is transparent, being technology driven,’’ he said.
According to him, at inception, the BVN of successful candidates are sent to Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) for verification.
Bibiye, said that NIBSS, being the custodian of the BVN data, authenticated the identity of each and every name, number and account number submitted by the NSIO, and anyone not verified was dropped from the list of successful beneficiaries.
“For the first set of 200,000 beneficiaries submitted for verification, NIBSS verified 93 per cent of the total number, after which only those verified were submitted to the various States, which entities are saddled with the responsibility of physically verifying the beneficiaries and deploying them to their Primary Places of Assignment (PPA).
“Upon confirmation of the deployments to the PPAs, the NSIO then signs off to the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, which makes payment directly to the accounts of beneficiaries through the NIBBS.
“This process also applies to other components of the social intervention programmes except for the National Conditional Cash Transfer programme, where due to logistics challenges, mobile money agents (MMA) are engaged to reach out to beneficiaries in the rural areas.
“The successful MMA’s are selected through an open process in compliance with the BPP Act, and even though they pay beneficiaries in remote locations where there is a dearth of banking infrastructure, they each have a backend technology that enables visibility and timely reconciliation of payments, as a pre-condition to engagement,’’ he said.
He said the Federal Government remained favourably disposed to constructive criticisms and the feedback that would aid ongoing efforts to strengthen the execution strategies of the SIPs for greater service delivery to Nigerians.
Bibiye however said that critics were also encouraged to follow up closely and interrogate the processes of the programme to avoid making remarks that were not evidence-based.
He said that Nigerians, particularly beneficiaries of the programme and their dependents, should be rest assured that the SIPs were not crumbling or coming to an end any time soon as predicted by naysayers.
The communications manager said that the Federal Government, through the NSIO, would continue to redouble efforts to ensure that the intended objectives of the Social Intervention Programmes were achieved in line with public expectations.