In a significant development, the Federal Government of Nigeria has indefinitely suspended the N-Power program, leading to the loss of jobs for over one million Nigerians who were beneficiaries of the scheme. The N-Power program, initiated during the tenure of former President Muhammadu Buhari, was designed to combat youth unemployment by providing a monthly stipend of N30,000 to participants.
The N-Power program was a vital component of the National Social Investment Programme, which aimed to engage 1.5 million unemployed Nigerian youths, primarily graduates, through capacity building, structured employment, and career development pathways. As of February this year, the program had enrolled 200,000 youths in Batch A, 300,000 in Batch B, 510,000 in Batch C1, and 490,000 in Batch C2.
While the exact number of beneficiaries who had exited the program remains unconfirmed, it is reported that nearly all enrollees in batches C1 and C2 were still actively involved, accounting for approximately one million individuals.
Most N-Power beneficiaries were engaged in teaching roles within primary schools across the country.
The suspension of the N-Power program was announced by Dr. Betta Edu, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, during a live interview on TVC News. Minister Edu cited irregularities within the program and revealed that the government had initiated an investigation into the utilization of funds since the program’s inception.
Minister Edu expressed concerns about beneficiaries who were receiving stipends despite not fulfilling their work duties and individuals who should have exited the program in 2022 but remained on the payroll. She stated, “We must go back to look into N-Power and understand what the problems are; so we will basically suspend the program for now until we are done with a proper investigation into the utilization of funds by the N-Power program.”
“We want to know how many people are basically on the program right now; how many people are owed and the amount they are owed. We are totally restructuring N-Power and expanding it,” Minister Edu added. She also pointed out that a significant percentage of beneficiaries were not actively working despite claiming salaries.
The N-Power program had faced previous challenges and allegations of irregularities, prompting investigations by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC). In response to these concerns, the ministry reinforced its systems to prevent anomalies and emphasized its commitment to the program’s transparency and accountability.
Despite the suspension, the ministry assured all N-Power beneficiaries that monthly stipends would continue to be paid in accordance with program expectations. The ministry also encouraged members of the public to report any irregularities in the implementation of the National Social Investment program.
This suspension marks a significant turning point in the N-Power program, with potential far-reaching implications for the affected beneficiaries and Nigeria’s efforts to combat youth unemployment.