By Uthman Samad
SOME beneficiaries of the National Social Investment Programme, N-power, have cried out to the federal government over non-payment of their three-month-old salary.
The beneficiaries are asking the government to approve the payment of their March, April, and May stipends
This is coming after Sadiya Farouk, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development promised beneficiaries and the program monitors across the country last week Tuesday, that they would start receiving payments for the months of March and April within the next 72 hours.
The minister disclosed in a press statement that the delay in the payment of the beneficiaries and monitors was “due to the change in Government Policy of migration from the REMITA platform system to the GIFMIS system of payment which requires offloading the beneficiaries into the new system before finally uploading, reviewing and final payment by the Social Investment Programme (SIP).”
N-Power is a youth empowerment scheme sponsored by the Federal Government of Nigeria under the Social Investment Program (SIP) with 500,000 enrollees across the country. Other programs under the program include Home Grown School Feeding, Tradermoni, Marketmoni and the Conditional Cash Transfer in the 36 states of the country.
Beneficiaries starving, dodging their landlords
However, hundreds of tweets and comments from over two hundred and fifty beneficiaries seen by The ICIR show that the promise made by Farouk has not been fulfilled a week after.
Beneficiaries now complain of the difficulty of meeting their needs. Someone said he has “turned to a thief in the night who sneaks in and out of the house” just to avoid his creditors.
A beneficiary from Plateau State, Samuel Bangudu, a father of four, said the situation has been “awful” for him in the last three months. He said his wife lost her job which makes things more difficult for the family.
Bangudu sounded distraught on Monday while speaking to The ICIR. “How I wish you can see my four children at the moment sharing the remaining cups of Gaari in the house. I have not eaten today the same as their mother. We are really pushed to the wall.”
He said the family’s condition was exacerbated by the lockdown order because nobody was even willing to borrow him money.
“My rent has expired since the 20th of March, and I have been avoiding my landlord,” he said.
Similarly, Habibu Isa from Katsina State told The ICIR that the lockdown has exposed him and his family to the worst embarrassment of their lives. he said he no longer could take anything on credit he is owing many people.
“They are all tired of borrowing me money. The food sellers here are no more willing to help me again to buy on credit, I can not continue like this any longer. Pls help us talk to the government”
Another beneficiary of the scheme, Ogunmodede Oladeji, said he has been broke to the point that he contemplated suicide. “I am currently indebted to some money lenders like Opay, FairMoney, Branch, Carbon Paylater, SEAP microfinance bank, and others”. He told The ICIR that he no longer can walk freely on the street.
From Delta State, Chinyere Esther also recounted her sad story. She told The ICIR that she is totally broke as she has used up all her savings, and borrowed so much from her neighbours with the hope to pay back when the backlogs of her stipends are paid.
The affected beneficiaries have taken their protest to Twitter using #PayOurMarchAprilAndMayStipends.
Auwalu Nasiru who tweeted through @NasuruAuwalu appended a picture of him on the sickbed, pleading to the Npower through her official Twitter handle to pay him his backlogs so as to foot his medical bills.
Please Npower help me out resolved my problem and pay me my March,April and May stipend to pay my mother medical bill
Auwal Nasiru kebbi Junior Secondary school Dankoji NPVN NO NPVN /KE/2016/101095 pic.twitter.com/oqBNLipQHm
— Auwalu Nasuru (@NasuruAuwalu) June 8, 2020
Salisu Ashiru (@SalisuAshiru5) in his own tweet qualified the unpaid backlogs as ill-treatment of the beneficiary as the situation is unbearable for many.
Your ill- treatment to unpaid beneficiaries is devastating!
Had it been you knew how you inflicted beneficiaries you could have repent for inhuman action. Have a Fear of God and settle this matter @npower_ng the situation to many is unbearable!!!
— Salisu Ashiru (@SalisuAshiru5) June 7, 2020
Forward your particulars for verification, Ministry advises
According to Vanguard Newspaper, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development has refuted claims by some N-POWER beneficiaries that they were being owed up to three months’ payments.
Rhoda Iliya, the ministry’s spokesperson, told The ICIR that claims of non-payment of stipends to the beneficiaries for three months were untrue, but he refused to comment on whether the ministry has paid up to May.
Iliya said those claiming they were being owed may not be genuine beneficiaries of the social investment programme. She challenged them to forward their particulars to the ministry for authentication if they are sure.
However, the payment dashboard seen by The ICIR shows “unpaid” for the months of March, April, and May as claimed by the affected beneficiaries. Only January and February’s payment read “paid”.