Presidential Aide, Minister In Disagreement Over NPower Exit Plan

The Special Adviser to President Buhari on Social Investments, Maryam Uwais, has denied the claim by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, that the National Social Investment Office (NSIO) had no exit plan for NPower beneficiaries.

She made this known during a phone conversation with an online media (not Eggonnews).

The presidential aide said the administrators in the social investments office had made exit plans which have not been implemented as discussions were still ongoing on many fronts. She also said she had briefed Mrs Farouq on those plans.

This was in reaction to a statement made by the minister yesterday.

In her statement, Mrs Farouq had said the retention of N-Power beneficiaries who should have exited was responsible for the delay of payment of the stipends of the beneficiaries for October and November.

Her comment was against the backdrop of rumours that the delay in the monthly stipends to NPower beneficiaries was because the government plans to drop them without an appropriate disengagement package for them.

In a press briefing on Monday, Mrs Farouq had lamented that the administrators of the scheme did not make an exit plan for the beneficiaries who ought to have “exited the programme 16 months” ago.

“N-Power beneficiaries enrolled in 2016 are yet to be exited 16 months after the elapse of their contract; they are supposed to have been graduated to a more productive venture.

“That the Ministry is currently making efforts to develop an exit strategy, which is non-existent,” Mrs Farouq said.

But in a telephone interview later on Monday, Mrs Uwais enumerated various efforts made by the office of the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) before and after the programme was moved to the new ministry under the leadership of Ms Farouq.

The presidential adviser said before the initiative was moved to the new ministry, she and the vice president met with the Ministry of Finance and requested for loans as a package for the beneficiaries.

“On the exit plan for the NPower beneficiaries, we have written the governors to see if they could employ some of them. We have got a lot of discussions with a lot of government agencies on the prospect. We even had discussions with IBM and they were planning to train them online.”

The presidential aide also said she had briefed Ms Farouq concerning the prospect of a meeting with the Ministry of Finance and that the minister had agreed to the plan.

She also said the NSIO had sent reminders but is yet to get feedback from the minister.

“We have had a meeting with the Ministry of Finance in the presence of the vice president and asked for a certain amount as capital funding as loans just to exist them (NPower beneficiaries) through the GEEP programme.

“Soon after that meeting, we were relocated to the new Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs. So I had briefed her of that possibility that we need to meet with the Ministry of Finance for this purpose and she agreed. And I reminded her again last week.

“Unfortunately, nothing yet. I have not got a response from her. She is the minister, I have told her to get us an appointment with the finance ministry so we can finalise the issue of the exit plan because time is going.

“We are stalled because we do not know what the package is that we are going to give them,” she said.

“So we have everything wrapped up. Except the conclusion of our appointment with the finance ministry, we cannot do much. So it is a bit surprising to me that she said we do not have any exit plans because I have briefed her that we did,” she said.

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