Less than one year after taking off, the Federal Government has identified 300 ghost volunteers, who have been collecting the N30,000 stipend without reporting to their duty locations.
Most of them, numbering over 363, deployed in Kwara would be forced to return all stipends received and prosecuted for absenteeism.
According to the Presidential aide on Job Creation, Mr Afolabi Imoukhuede, 60 volunteers in the scheme have also had their payments withheld and may be prosecuted for fraud.
The development is coming shortly after the Federal Government promised to give out different brands of devices to beneficiaries in the course of their skill learning and acquisitions.
Government had announced that the distribution of first batch of the devices to be issued to volunteers would commence on date to be announced soon.
The devices are all tablets of eight variants from which beneficiaries can select. These are Afri-One (2-in 1), RLG Adulawo Limited, Samsung Tab E., Zinox Z Pad.
Others are Brain NPower IPAD,Techno Pad, Floss Signatures and Speedstar.
Majority of the first batch who have received N30,000 monthly stipends were able to select an N-Power device. Basic features in the devices include free one year Internet subscription; pre-loaded learning materials to support assignments (Cisco, Google, Microsoft, Learn Africa all contributed content that can accessed); Over one million resources on each device.
Imoukhuede, while addressing 5,559 volunteers in Kwara, gave July ending as deadline for those experiencing payment issues to resolve them or be removed from the programme.
He disclosed this when he led a team of monitoring and evaluation officials to assess the performance of the volunteers in the state as well as mandate the state’s institutional partners to take absolute charge of the volunteers.
According to the aide, many volunteers have been collecting unbroken stipends of N30,000 monthly without reporting for work which discourages serious volunteers from giving in their best.
He added that volunteers were the cause of non-receipt of their stipends as they failed to validate their financial records more than seven months into the graduate scheme.
“There is no irregularity in the payment of stipends; we do not discriminate against states. The reason for what you tag irregularity is that we are trying to update your accounts. Our goal is that everyone will receive all stipends unbroken,’’ he added.
Imoukhuede said that N-Power was a lifeline extended to youths by President Muhammadu Buhari and Acting President Yemi Osinbajo as a platform for learning, working and gaining entrepreneurship, stressing that the scheme was technology-enhanced and designed programme where the graduates are expected to be technology-compliant.
“There will be evaluation of performance through the devices. Google and Microsoft Academy have provided lots of learning materials in the devices for your benefits, so you have to take the devices seriously as your daily manual,’’ he advised.
On the deployment of non-professionals to N-Teach, N-Agro and N-Health, the presidential aide noted that volunteers were sent as assistants in the disciplines, adding “the scheme is qualification agnostic and we deployed to areas of need.”
He recalled that the Federal Government’s N6.9 billion monthly investment from where Kwara economy had sucked in N160 million via the volunteers, was not a joke.
“The beauty of the scheme is that rather than fund state treasury, the money goes straight to volunteers’ pockets from where it trickles down to the economy of their rural families and enhances their saving culture.
“That is why the scheme earns a space in the economic recovery programme of the Federal Government,’’ he said
Meanwhile, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo extended registration for 2017 N-Power application by two weeks to close yesterday (Thursday July 27, 2017).
The N-Power Volunteer Corps is part of Federal Government’s Social Investment Programmes, under which it plans to hire 350,000 unemployed graduates.
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