- officials task beneficiaries N200 for form, cruise home with over N1.3m
- It was fraudulent to collect money under any guise for verification- Former focal person
- I’m out of the country and cannot speak to you for long- Ugo Nnachi
By Angela Nwaeze Mbaocha
There was uproar at Unity Square Abakaliki as Npower officials conducted head count in the State on Wednesday, August 2019.
The exercise as gathered lasted for 3 days with Batch A and B in attendance, numbering over 7000 beneficiaries on ground for the exercise.
During the exercise, beneficiaries where told to pay the sum of 200 naira and a form was handed over to them to fill in their details, after which they were asked to queue up and submit the form.
Unfortunately, the submission of form didn’t go down well as fight ensued between the officials and the beneficiaries over submission of form and collection of polo, and a female Npower official was badly beaten during the struggle.
Later, the crowds which almost caused stampede during the exercise were dispersed with gun shots by a police officer at the venue of the head count.
Speaking to one of the beneficiaries simply identified as Prosper, he lamented delay in collection of the form, noting that the head count was not a genuine one since the officers failed to collect the form from them. “What they are interested is the 200 naira, they are not interested the headcount. We are up to 6000 beneficiaries here if not more than and each one paying 200 naira will give them about N1.2million, that was just what they were after.
Mr. Gideon Ndubuisi, also a beneficiary of the N-Teach component of the scheme explained that the state wide verification exercise was the first of its kind in the state.
Ndubuisi said verification exercise was done monthly at the local government area or at one’s place of primary assignment without any charge.
He decried the payment of N200 by every beneficiary and described the payment as illegal and act of extortion by the N-Power state officials.
He called on Federal government to probe the verification exercise and entire N-Power scheme in the state.
His words: “We were asked to come for the verification exercise and before now the verification is usually done at the local government areas or at the place on one’s primary assignment without any charge.
“We were not told the reason for the state-wide verification but on reaching here, I was issued with a form requesting personal information of the beneficiaries.
“You are required to pay N200 before you are issued with a verification form, no receipt is given to authenticate payment and I wonder where the money will go to.
“If they want to know if actually we are carrying out our duties, they should meet us at the places of our primary assignments.
“There is no justification for the exercise and I call on FG to probe the verification and the N200 charged on beneficiaries “.
Another beneficiary, by name Chiamaka also decried that the money was too much, as beneficiaries are yet to be paid, adding that she had spent hours struggling to submit her form. Stating: “They haven’t paid us, and we thought our coming here was just for the head count then our money will be paid, yet they are collecting 200 naira from us. After giving us this form, they have refused to collect the form. So paying for the form was even useless.”
Also, Mr. John Ofoke, a beneficiary in the N-teach component decried alleged extortion by the official from beneficiaries for the verification exercise and called for immediate probe into the N-Power programme in the state.
Ofoke, who teaches at the Agbaja Central School, Nwofe in Izzi local government area said that monthly verification exercise were usually at the local government area or at the place of primary assignment.
“The exercise is strenuous, illegal and came at a very short notice.
“Again, the N200 we are asked to pay for form is not receipted as evidence of payment, hence I am appealing to FG to investigate the illegal collection”, Ofoke said.
Mr. Nnanna Okoroafor, former N-Power focal person in Ebonyi and South-East facilitator of the federal government sponsored social investment programmes, said that it was fraudulent to collect money under any guise from N-Power beneficiaries for purposes of verification.
The South East and State Facilitator of NSIP noted that he wasn’t aware of such exercise, adding that if it was from federal government, provisions would have been made for the exercise.
He said that the various component structures in the N-Power scheme were saddled with the responsibility of verification of beneficiaries.
He explained that verification exercise was usually done free at the local government areas by the various implementation structures and not at the state level.
Stating, “The Agricultural Development Programme is in charge of N-agro, while the Primary Health Care and Universal Basic education are in charge of N-Health and N-teach components.
“The Supervisory heads of the structures are responsible for verification of staff under them at their local government areas”.
When contacted, Mrs. Ugo Nnachi, N-Power focal person for Ebonyi declined comment saying that she travelled out of the country.
She said: “Speak with any of the officials on the field, I am out of the country and cannot speak to you for long”.
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