The Federal Government announced yesterday that after reforming its job-creation programme, N-Power, no fewer than five million Nigerians will be engaged.
But in order to provide the expected number of young Nigerians with jobs in the next five years, the Federal Government has expanded the age bracket of the N-Power beneficiaries from 18 to 40 from the previous bracket of 18 to 35years.
The N-Power National Programme Manager, Dr. Akindele Egbuwalo, made the disclosure in a statement made available to Vanguard in Abuja on Sunday.
Dr. Egbuwalo appealed to Nigerians to understand the rationale behind the temporary suspension of the N-Power programme to pave way for the ongoing restructuring in order to restore the confidence of Nigerians in the programme.
“This restructuring and transformation will also give birth to an expanded programme to reach beneficiaries aged 18–40 (the previous age limit was 35),” Egbuwalo stated.
“Under the graduate and non-graduate stream, we are aiming for five million beneficiaries in five years at a pace of one million per year.”
The National Programme Manager revealed that a reorganised N-Power would include some new programmes in education, health, work, agriculture, technology, fashion, entertainment, and other pertinent fields of skill acquisition and employability.
He added: “To earn the confidence of Nigerians in the expanded programme, transparency and accountability will be the benchmark. It shall no longer be business as usual as we make concerted efforts to put the nation on the right footing, ensuring that no one directly or indirectly unleashes suffering on Nigerians”.
Egbuwalo explained that suspension of the programme became imperative following the discovery of some sharp practices and to also give room for a detailed investigation into its operations in the last one year.
His words: “There is a need to audit the number of people in the programme, those who have exited the programme, those who are being owed, whether they reported to work or not and how funds have been utilised over this period.
“Recently, we discovered instances of programme beneficiaries whose participation has lapsed since 2022 but have remained on and continue to expect payments from the government.
“In addition, some beneficiaries must honour their obligation to the programme. They do not report to their places of primary assignments as required but still receive monthly payments.
“These instances have made the need for a thorough audit imperative as we also look into claims of those being owed for up to eight to nine months stipends to ascertain the veracity of their claims”
He assured all beneficiaries with genuine claims that the federal government will not owe anybody as it will resolve all cases and honour all valid outstanding obligations once the verification exercise is completed.