UNPAID NPOWER STIPENDS: States’ Focal Persons Suffering in Silence!!!
Pst. Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo
Since the inception of the Npower Application in 2016, our organization has taken a lead in covering, monitoring, and now, playing oversight functions on the scheme. Our unacknowledged official roles and supports for the scheme are immeasurable. Some Npower Volunteers have even forgotten the existence of the official Npower Help Lines, and now heavily rely on the information released by the Initiative for Sound Education, Relationship & Health (ISERH) through the page we created during the Programme’s Assessment Test named Npower Assessment Help Line. This was the page we used/use to address hundreds of challenges facing the Npower Volunteers during and even after the Assessment. The facebook page that now has about 5,000 LIKES is heavily relied upon by the selected and yet-to-be selected Npower Volunteers for information since the 3 official mobile lines of Npower are not reachable while the complaints forwarded to their email:firstname.lastname@example.org are left unacknowledged and unaddressed.
It is of importance to know that this organization (ISERH) exposed the incidence of Npower website crash that happened in June, 2016 which led to the lost of over 2 million applicants’ profiles. We also sought for the closing date’s extension of this programme’s application in July 2016 when we were in a meeting called by the Hon. Minister for Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma. At the event that took place in Banquet Hall, State House, I personally pointed out to the minister that information dissemination challenge is the major setback of Npower Scheme. We went further to help some State’s Npower Focal Persons in answering some questions Npower team failed to address. We strengthen the understanding of lots of stakeholders (SUBEB, NOA, LG etc) across the federation on Npower Scheme. We granted lots of media interviews and wrote lots of piece for people to get enlightened on the scheme.
For the past 2 months, this organization (ISERH) and myself have been silent to the ugly scenes that are been played out by Npower Team, State’s Focal Persons, and many other self-paraded authority on Npower issues. We never responded to over 1,000 complaints on our facebook page, over 500 text messages, and over 3,000 complaint mails sent through Emails and WhatsApp on different Npower issues. This, as we observed, further depressed the Npower Volunteers the more, increased pressures on states’ focal persons and local authority staff. I read lots of abuse and curses on Npower Team, Focal Persons and even ISERH by the volunteers via their WhatsApp Groups.
Little did Npower Volunteers know that we are doing this to help them. Neither Npower team, focal persons nor anyone supported us with a dime. We spent from our organization’s cover to provide these services. I hardly sleep in the night as I attend to calls, WhatsApp Messages, Emails etc. Despite the fact that I am out of the country at present, I still attend to Npower issues while my team at home are relentlessly engaging our sources of information. All expenses paid by Initiative for Sound Education, Relationship & Health and our Team.
On the issue of unpaid stipend, the sincere fact about it is that each State’s Focal Persons are as ignorant about its causes as the beneficiaries. What worries me most is their attitude of parading themselves as if they have a SAY on the payment of the stipend or knowing why you are not paid. With the attitude displayed by this set of people, my heart bleeds for our nation on why we have unfits as leaders! What stops these people from telling the truth that they are ignorant of the reasons behind the failure of Npower to pay the December and January stipends of the majority of these volunteers??? They still continue adding salt to the wound of the volunteers by asking them to go to their Local Governments to fill some forms, go to NOA office to write down bank details etc. The simple question to ask them is: ‘has Npower system crashed again that made them lose the detailed information of the selected volunteers?’ There is a limit to what they (Focal Persons) know and can do. ‘Why are these people unduly provoking these timid unemployed graduates?’
My sincere advice to the Npower Volunteers that are yet to be paid and those that are paid is to disregard whatever information that takes money out of their pockets to the one that will get them their stipends. Pst Laolu Akande is the only person who has the information on why their December and January stipends are yet to be paid and he is the only one who can give the date it would be paid. National Orientation Agency, SUBEB, states focal persons and Local Governments have no power to push for the payment of their Stipends. They are only wasting your resources by asking you to come and write down your names. I am sure that the majority of States’ Focal Persons are tired of this job as this has made them look incompetent, clueless and unprofessional.
Although, Npower Scheme has already started failing. 3 months are already gone out of the 24 months the program is designed to lapse for each batch. The scheme has never contributed to the nation’s education, agriculture or health that is designed to improve. In a society ruled by patriotic leaders, Pst Laolu Akande and his team would have been summoned by Law Makers and media to give detailed accounts of what transpired and why these are happening. Let us all storm the social media to wake our leaders to summon Pst Laolu Akande and his team to give detail answers to the following questions:
1) When will all the 200,000 selected Npower Volunteers’ December and January stipends be paid?
2) What day of the month is the pay day for Npower Volunteers’ stipends?
3) What happens to the budget approved for this scheme?
4) When will this scheme properly start and volunteers fully engaged?
5) When are we to expect feeling the impact of this scheme?
6) What happens to the remaining 300,000 volunteers that are yet to be selected?
7) Will this 300,000 serve for 24 months as well or not?
8) When should the Npower Build and Creative Applicants be expecting the list of selected applicants?
Dear Volunteers, this is the time to look beyond sourcing information from your state focal person and concentrate on seeking and demanding the attention of Pst Laolu Akande and his team. Kindly disregard any text that asks you to pay to get help and disregard any authority that asks you to pay for Posting Letters or anything. You can forward the details of anyone who asks for money to us via our email:email@example.com or WhatsApp: +2348145643445 or facebookpage: www.facebook.com/npowerassessmenthelpline.
Nigeria shall surely be great again – through our collective efforts!!!
Exc. Dir., Initiative for Sound Education, Relationship & Health (ISERH)
Program Impact and Evaluation Fellow, Points of Light/Generation On (USA)
Atlas Corps Fellow, USA