At least 174,000 N-power volunteers in the Federal Government’s Social Intervention Programmes (SIPs) are being paid N30,000 monthly stipends without delay, a Presidency official has said.
Afolabi Imokhuede, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation, made this known in a chat with State House correspondents in his office in Abuja.
“As we speak right now, about 86 per cent of them really have been paid.
“Now when I mean 86 per cent after physical verification, as at last count in end of April we had about 174,000 qualified, verified volunteers out of 200,000.
“We are currently right now doing a final reconciliation with all the states and FCT just to ensure, because we also found out that there were few cases of computation error, a few cases of omission at the point of digitizing the physical master list.
“The only ways we can know that; or some states get to know, is when these volunteers call the helpline or send e-mails complaining of non-payment.
“We then say to them; you cannot be paid because our records show that you are absent from verification.’’
The Presidential aide said the programme had been using focal persons, using N power coordinators in the states to act as the go-between the government and the volunteers to cross check their data.
He added that the complaints about non-payment arose because some volunteers could not reconcile their entries at the time of application with the information they presented during the validation exercise.
Imokhuede said most invalid verifications were caused by wrong Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) of the volunteers which could not be linked to the accounts they had submitted.
He also said some women, who applied with their maiden names but submitted their BVNs with their husband’s surnames also had issues with the verification.
He said a lot of them also applied in conformity with their certificates but a lot of such certificates were not in tandem with their BVN data.
“All of those categories of volunteers always come out invalid.
“What we did, which is important, is make payments through the technology platform recognising that NIBS, (Nigerian Interbank Settling System), is the custodian of all the BVN in Nigeria.
“We brought in NIBS as a key stakeholder.
“What we do on monthly basis is to send the records to NIBS which does the validation; and those who pass through the validation have no issues and get their payments,’’ he added.
He said the verifications were to protect the volunteers from fraud or being short changed by those who assisted them in entering into the programme through corrupt cybercafés.
The SSA said there were some few “no shows’’ who did not accept the appointment adding that the plan was for the states to pick the volunteers on their waiting list to fill in the vacancies.
He said once the volunteers received their stipends regularly, the N-power paid the backlogs.
He said no fewer than 43,000 volunteers received they backlogs about two weeks ago while another 16,000 was approved for payment last week.
“What we intend to tell all our volunteers is to focus on getting your account updated and once done your backlog definitely would come through,’’ he advised.
Imokhuede said the programme had also set up emergency measures for about another 15,000 who still battled with their invalid BVN by using the N-power call centres to call them to print their BVN in order to see their name as captured.
He said the N-power intended to get the problem behind soon in order to begin the recruitment of new volunteers.
He said the programme had a bill of about N6 billion and was processing the sixth month already. He said excluding those not captured; the programme had so far expended about N26 billion since inception.
He also stated that about 17 volunteers in Taraba, who were discovered and suspended from the programme for fraud and absconding from their places of posting, would soon face prosecution.