The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development has begun the payment of arrears of allowances for batches A and B of the 2016 and 2018 volunteers of the N-Power programme nationwide.
Earlier in the week, SaharaReporters had revealed that the dismissed and unpaid volunteers were planning to hold a nationwide protest over the inability of the government to pay them.
SaharaReporters had also published the grievances of the volunteers who were being owed five months' stipends, and also the exit package of the disengaged Ń-Power volunteers.
This made the volunteers to call for the sack of the minister, Hajiya Sadiya Farouk, whom they believed lacked competence to handle their matter.
Earlier this week, the National President of the affected Ń-Power disengaged beneficiaries, Comrade Bashir Gobir, informed SaharaReporters of their planned nationwide strike to kick off on Monday.
But the step by the government to begin paying them was revealed in a statement issued by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Alhaji Bashir Alkali, on Friday in Abuja.
Alkali said the accounts of these 14,021 volunteers were flagged in March 2020 by the Federal Government payment system, the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System for various reasons.
According to him, the reasons include beneficiaries holding multiple bank accounts and receiving other payments such as salaries and allowances from multiple Federal Government ministries, department and agencies on permanent employment.
Alkali clarified that these acts breached the regulations guiding the N-Power volunteer programme and could amount to gross misconduct and corruption.
The ministry carried out investigation in partnership with relevant government MDAs and so far the accounts of 9,066 volunteers were cleared for final payment.
Alkali said, “Based on this reality, the five months allowance arrears of these volunteers, totaling N150,000 each, is currently being paid. They have started receiving credit alerts today.
“The allowances of the remaining 4,955 are withheld pending conclusion of further investigation. Where clear violations of the agreements are established, such violators will be subjected to appropriate sanctions as stipulated by the law.
“Contrary to some insinuations in the public domain, this process is a clear demonstration of the ministry’s resolve to address this unfortunate incidence in a transparent manner for accountability and to forestall its future occurrence.
“As it has consistently maintained, the investigation carried out by the ministry is in the best interest of the country and has the major goal of institutionalising the National Social Investment Programme.”
He said that the essence was to ensure the programme’s efficient management in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s resolve to ensure transparency and accountability in its implementation at all times.
Alkali said, “The ministry regrets the delays experienced in concluding this process, but assures the public that transparency and accountability cannot be compromised in all its activities.”