Extortion in N-Power worries presidency

The Presidency is worried over the infiltration of fraudsters in N-Power volunteers propramme and warned it would neither tolerate truancy nor allow independent assessors to extort money from beneficiaries.

Mr Afolabi Imoukhuede, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation and Youth Empowerment, stated in Ado-Ekiti on Thursday at an interactive with about 12,000 volunteers posted to the state.

He was reacting to the allegation that some persons who posed as N-Power monitors had approached volunteers demanding the sum of N20,000 from each.

The presidential aide acknowledged that the agency utilised independent assessors to monitor the attendance and performance of the volunteers but they were not mandated to collect or demand for payment.

Accordingly, he told the volunteers to use the whistle blower mechanism in the organisation to report such acts to the appropriate authority for immediate arrest and prosecution of offenders.

Imoukhuede, however, frowned at the indiscipline, truancy and other criminal behaviours among volunteers that he described as inconsistent with the objectives of the scheme.

He warned that those who absented themselves from work or disobeyed their employers would be shown the way out.

He described the scheme as a work, learn and entrepreneurship programme meant to give a lifeline to unemployed youth, adding that it was not a national cake to be shared.

“It cannot continue to be business as usual’’ he cautioned, adding that since there were at least six unemployed graduates on standby to replace each exited volunteer, the organisation would not hesitate to apply the big stick on truants.

Imoukhuede, whose monitoring team paid an unannounced visit to the Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti wondered why out of 72 N-Teach volunteers posted to the second batch only 15 were consistent in attendance as well as only two being regular out of the 13 first batch graduate assistants.

He said that it was because of the love President Muhammadu Buhari had for the youth that he approved the scheme during his campaign for the Presidency.

“Such opportunities did not come during the previous administrations and this is why the programme should be taken very seriously.’’

Imoukhuede who also monitored the programme in Ondo before coming to Ekiti said while meeting with the critical stakeholders in both states, that they should never compromise the integrity of the scheme.

“Effective monitoring is important and you have a duty to take possession of the scheme and exercise authority over the recalcitrant volunteers by reporting them to the headquarters using the communication channel for appropriate sanctions,’’ he said.

The aide noted that very few volunteers from the 200,000 deployed in 2016 had yet to receive their tablets due to problems they created for themselves.

He explained that those affected would surely receive the tablets alongside the 300,000 batch two volunteers before the end of first quarter of 2019.

“We are concluding arrangements with the Bank of Industry for your devices; we will complete asset finance with them by this month.

“Around next month (January), you will select your devices online and pick them up by the first quarter,’’ he added.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Ekiti volunteers turned the meeting into a forum for gratitude to Buhari for remembering them in times of need and also endorsed his candidacy for a second term.

“Ekiti N-Power beneficiaries are committed to the administration of Buhari. No administration had shown this kind of support for the youth.

“We are moving to the next level and “we have not had it so good,’’ the representatives of the volunteers who recounted their personal gains from the scheme took turns to say.

Imoukhuede who reacted to the endorsement of the president said “we did not come here for endorsement but since it has come from you we accept and will pass on the message.’’ (NAN)

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