Many of the people recruited from all the local government areas of the country for the federal government’s 774,000 three-month job that ended in April have not been paid, Daily Trust reports.
Our correspondents report that 1,000 people were picked from each of the 774 LGAs in 36 states under the Extended Special Public Works (ESPW) programme.
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Thousands of the selected participants are yet to receive the monthly N20,000 promised each of them while some were paid for only one month.
While some of those penciled for the job said they were not posted to anywhere to work, others said they were short-changed during the one month payment and called on the federal government to investigate the anomaly.
Daily Trust reports that the three months programme was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari last year to mitigate problems associated with lack of employment in rural areas through a short-term engagement.
Participants were recruited largely from the pool of unskilled persons from each of the 774 local government areas.
In return, the beneficiaries had reportedly carried out public works such as sweeping of streets after the programme was launched amid pomp and pageantry and elaborately covered by the media.
The framers of the public work said those that participated were expected to save the N60,000 given to them within three months so that they could use it as seed money for other endeavours.
‘We are yet to receive our stipends’
An investigation by Daily Trust revealed that many of the selected beneficiaries in the states who have completed the public works within the three months provided (February to April) are yet to be paid the N20,000 promised them.
In Borno State, some participants said they were paid for only one month.
Hajja Fanna from Gamboru in Ngala Local Government Area who was among the 27,000 unemployed youths said she was still waiting to collect her remaining N40,000.
Another beneficiary from Jere LGA, who would not want to be named, said he participated in the programme but still awaits his payments.
The Coordinator, National Directorate of Employment (NDE) in Borno, Mrs Mairo Aliyu, who is also the Secretary, Borno State Selection Committee of the Extended Special Public Works Programme, said 1,000 unemployed youths were recruited from each of the 27 local government areas of the state.
She confirmed that each participant was supposed to receive a monthly payment of N20,000 through some select banks and that even though the three-month programme had been completed, some of the banks were still processing payments due to some unforeseen reasons.
In Kaduna State, investigation revealed that many participants were yet to receive their payment months after the programme was flagged off nationwide.
One of the beneficiaries from Kaduna North who simply identified himself as Jibril said he had not received any allowance since the programme started.
“Most of us from Kaduna North Local Government have not been paid and we don’t know why because the programme had ended in April,” he said.
State Coordinator of NDE, Sani Maiwada, said some of the banks had already paid the beneficiaries one month salary while some were yet to pay the money.
In Oyo State, only about 30 per cent of the applicants who were using one of the stipulated banks got N20,000 stipends, Daily Trust gathered. Some of the applicants said they didn’t get any information from the NDE in Oyo State on the mode of operation for the job.
A housewife, who refused to be named, said: “I have not been paid. Even my friend had done her own documentation but she had not received anything from the bank. I am not convinced that they will pay because we are currently not doing any job.
“I think the scheme is a scam; it is possible some people have collected our money because nothing is impossible in Nigeria.”
The chairman and coordinator of the programme in Oyo State, Ope Salami, said that about 30 per cent of applicants had been paid for one or two months.
In Rivers State, it was gathered that 23,000 persons from the 23 LGAs of the state were selected for the special public works projects.
A source from the management committee of the project told our reporter that about N1.38bn was released but could not confirm if it was accessed by the participants.
However, the source who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter said equipment for the applicants had been distributed to local government councils through the NDE.
Findings showed that most of the participants in Cross River State have not received the monthly stipends of N20,0000. Some of them who spoke with Daily Trust said they were to be paid through one of the second generation banks but they were yet to be paid even though they had completed their documentations.
Miss Regina Akpabio who resides in Calabar South said she had visited the bank a number of times and filled the required forms but no luck.
Another participant, Dopse Edet, expressed dismay that months after the payment was supposed to have started, they were yet to receive even one month pay.
Chairman of the project in Cross River State, Barrister Maria Ukpayang, said it was difficult to immediately ascertain the number of those registered in the state and those currently receiving the monthly stipend.
Some beneficiaries of the NDE public works programme in Ondo State alleged that they were paid N16,000 instead of N20,000.
“The money was given to us by hand instead of being paid into our bank accounts,” noted one of the benefactors from Owo Local Government Area.
Another participant from Akoko South -West told Daily Trust that they were yet to be paid.
In Taraba, participants said they only received payment for one month. Adamu Bashir and Hakimatu Muktari from Gassol Local Government Area; and Haruna Munkailu from Karim-Lamido who participated in the programme told Daily Trust that they were paid N20,000 each only once.
The NDE coordinator in Taraba State, Alhaji Iliya Yakubu Illelah, however, declined comment on the payment and referred our correspondent to the Federal Ministry of Finance which he said was shouldering the payment through some banks.
“I don’t want to comment on payment issue because the Federal Ministry of Finance is responsible for the payment of participants through banks and not NDE Taraba office,” he said.
Similarly, participants in Benue State were worried over non-payment of their stipends.
While some of them told our correspondent that they have not received any monies as stipends for the project which ended in April, others said they were paid for one month and yet to get the remaining two months.
A participant, who simply gave his name as Eddy, claimed that he had not received any money to show for his labour over the three months period.
The state coordinator of the scheme, Arc. Samuel Gberindyer confirmed that some of the participants were paid for one month and admitted that some have not.
In Plateau State, the coordinator of the programme, Mr Rufus Bature, confirmed that some of the beneficiaries had received their stipends but others were yet to receive theirs due to technical issues.
Bature said the issues were linked to some selected banks but said the affected banks were working assiduously to resolve the glitches.
One of the beneficiaries in the state, Aisha Sani, told Daily Trust that she only received one month stipend from her bank.
Another beneficiary, Abubakar Audu said since the completion of the programme, he hasn’t received anything even though he had been given an ATM card from his bank.
In Kwara State, beneficiaries of the public work scheme across local governments complained of irregularity and what they described as outright denial of their payments in some instances.
While some of the beneficiaries acknowledged payment of one month stipend, others complained about deductions from what they got from the banks.
One of the beneficiaries, Ahmed Adijat, said: “I only received one month which was paid around the middle of April during the last Ramadan.”
Another beneficiary, Medinat Naallah, complained that although one month stipend was paid on April 18, she was able to access it a week after.
“We were told that we would be paid three months, but we only collected one and have not received anything since then and this is June,” she said.
More than 20,000 youths who were selected for the job have not been paid months after completing the work in Bauchi State, Daily Trust gathered.
The non-payment of the participants had plunged both the state implementation committee and monitors who supervised the projects into a running battle with a threat to revolt against the delay.
A participant who wouldn’t want to be named told Daily Trust that after devoting their precious time and energy “some ungodly elements are planning to siphon the little contributions of government using flimsy excuses.”
He said they were planning to hold a peaceful demonstration against what he called “injustice.”
State coordinator of NDE, Lawal Yaya, told Daily Trust that the delay in paying the participants had thrown the committee into difficulties including threats of demonstration and street protests.
Banks delaying payments — NDE
Contacted, the Director-General of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Abubakar Nuhu Fikpo, confirmed that not all the 774,000 participants received their stipends.
According to him, the banks handling the process were the ones delaying the payments, saying they have not concluded the authentication of the names of participants, their account numbers and Bank Verification Numbers (BVN).
“Yes, it is true; we are in the process of paying the participants for one month because that is the funds we have received that are in our custody. Of course, we received part of the money that was meant for the projects. The money was meant for the stipends as well as the purchase of the equipment in the execution of the projects.
“You know it is a special public works programme which involves the maintenance of infrastructures. Therefore, it requires equipment for the participants to use.
“So, out of what they gave to us, we have used part of it to buy equipment and what was left was just adequate to pay for one month. As such, we have been in the process of paying their stipends for that one month,” he said.
Asked for the timeline given the banks to complete the process, he said, “In fact, the expectation of the agency is not for them to just respond quickly and expeditiously but we went further to even write the banks. We told them to hasten this process because these people are due for payment.”
By Fidelis Mac-Leva, Idowu Isamotu (Abuja), Misbahu Bashir (Maiduguri), Magaji lsa Hunkuyi (Jalingo), Jeremiah Oke (Ibadan), Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt), Eyo Charles (Calabar), Bola Ojuola (Akure), Hope Abah Emmanuel (Makurdi), Ado Abubakar Musa (Jos), Mumini Abdulkareem (Ilorin), Mohammed I. Yaba (Kaduna) & Hassan Ibrahim (Bauchi)