The federal government has said it is considering reducing the two-year internship programme for beneficiaries enrolled under the N-Power scheme.
The minister of humanitarian affairs, Sadiya Farouq, said this on Tuesday, during a meeting with other ministers in Abuja.
The meeting was attended by minister agriculture, Sabo Nanono; minister of state, budget and planning, Clem Agba; minister of health, Osagie Ehanire; minister of women affairs, Pauline Tallen and minister of state, education, Emeka Nwajiuba.
According to a Wednesday statement signed by the ministry’s deputy director information, Rhoda Iliya, Ms Farouq did not specify the new duration the federal government was considering but she said the decision followed efforts to totally streamline the scheme for proper efficiency.
Ms Farouq reportedly said, “The ministry has undertaken a review and re-appraisal of the programme in order to strengthen the program design and streamline for efficiency.
“Part of the reforms and streamlining will see a reduction in tenure from the current 24 months,” she added.
She said the ministry intends to reposition the intervention programmes by launching the Integrated National Social Investment Programme (I-NSIP).
According to her, it would help in enrolling more beneficiaries into the programme and also empower women to be more self-sufficient.
“The (I-NSIP) is intended to reposition N-SIP to cater to vulnerable groups in society by providing them access to shock responsive interventions, life skills & mentorship in order to systematically lift people out of poverty.
“Others include enrolling more women on the program to empower them, so that they can earn an income and be more self-sufficient while privileging N-Teach, N-Health and N-Agro as areas of key priority attention,” she said.
At the end of the session, the ministers reportedly resolved that attention should be paid to helping youth convert knowledge into skills while providing opportunities for them to digitalise and organise markets.
The ministers agreed that “emphasis should not be on starting new structures but building on existing ones – from the National Directorate of Employment to Digital Literacy and Skills Acquisition programme (DEEL) as well as the Work Experience Programme (WEP) of the Ministry of Youth & Sports Development.”
The proposed reduction in the duration of the programme comes amidst the controversy trailing over 200,000 beneficiaries selected in 2016, under Batch-A who ought to have been disengaged from the scheme after the mandatory two years of internship.
Similarly, there have been consistent outcry from volunteers over delay or non-payment of their monthly allowances although the minister had admitted that her ministry encountered challenges with the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) which caused the delay.
“We encountered some delays on the GIFMIS platform but I can now announce that all N-Power beneficiaries from Batch A and B have been paid their April stipends,” the minister had explained.
But Vivian Ezike, an N-Power beneficiary, who appeared on Channels TV on Tuesday said she and many colleagues are yet to recieve their stipends since March.
In the interview, she also explained other logistic challenges the beneficiaries face, urging the officials to tackle these.
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