•CEOs bribed to shield absentee enrollees, stipend discrepancies
From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Absenteeism, laziness and moonlighting on the part of most beneficiaries are words that best describe what has become of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), to a large extend.
These acts are enabled by school principals and heads of government and private agencies who are tipped by beneficiaries in order for their interests to be protected while they go about their personal businesses. The form of payment is from the monthly stipends that beneficiaries split with those in charge or even more to hush them.
Findings by Daily Sun revealed that most NSIP enrollees are already in paid employment but their names were smuggled into the scheme by their cronies in high places for them to enjoy the spoils of government.
They only show up once or twice in a month, depending on the arrangement and seriousness of most independent monitors, for the routine documentation.
A recent visit to the Public Service Institute (PSI), Kubwa, Abuja, where the K-Knowledge and N-Skill training were ongoing, revealed the rot in the scheme.
By 10am last week, most students of filmmaking, scripting and directing were nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, over 100 enrollees were said to have been earmarked for the training. Present or absent, they are entitled to N8,400 weekly for feeding and N15,000 for transportation.
In addition, the K-Knowledge and N-Skill training is expected to last 12 weeks, which is three months.
A facilitator of scriptwriting for NSIP N-Creative, Marvelous Abutu, decried the poor response of students. Abutu said he had to reach out to most of them wanting to know why they haven’t resumed, but the prospective students complained of distance and other logistical problems.
According to him, some told him that they were not sure of the authenticity of the messages they got, thinking it was sent by tricksters.
He said: “So far, the class started on the 10th day of February, officially. So far, so good, but the attendance has not been encouraging.
“We reached out to all the students. Some of them complained about distance, some thought it was a fraud that the messages they got were sent by fraudsters.
“So, because of that they did not see the need to follow through. We told them that it was legitimate. Some said they would try to come. Some complained of transportation cost.
“We even told them that their transportation would be given to them in the course of the programme. We are in week four of the training.
“By and large, the interest of some of them that have been participating in the programme is quite encouraging. The majority of them are open to the idea of making a foray in the world of filmmaking and general creative industry.”
Also, the project manager for software training, Temitope Folarunsho, flayed the apathy of prospective enrollees. He said about 43 students were supposed to be in attendance, but most of them did not show up: “What I was told was that we were going to have four classes and we were expecting more students. In fact, we resumed earlier before then.
“They got messages on the 10th day of February, we have been here since January 30 waiting for the students.
“The expectation, if you ask me, these ones that are here have registered and they are doing well. But those that are yet to come, I do not know what is keeping them. That is short of expectations.
“Probably, it is because of the elections. I think the notice they gave them was very short because I keep asking the students what the problem was. Ideally, it is the students that should be waiting for the lecturers. Now lecturers are waiting for students to come. So, when the ones that are here came in, I asked them what happened and they said they just got the text messages last week.
“All of them are not in Abuja. This set is made up of the North-Central. If you want someone to travel inter-state, the person would have to calculate carefully based on the security situation in the country.
“I might be doing something presently you would have to inform me probably a week or two weeks for me to prepare myself. That might have contributed to the low turnout.
“We have close to 43. But not all are in class now. But based on the list that we have seen, the first one was about 80.
“The second list had 20 students or thereabouts, making it 100. Then another list came out and we discovered that the second list was actually a subset of the third list.
“So, we discarded the second list since the names were still on the third list. Basically, let me say we have about 100 students. But people that have registered are close to 50.”
Speaking on the package and renumeration the beneficiaries are entitled to, Abutu said: “The government has been giving the beneficiaries N15,000 stipend for transportation that brought them.
“N8,400 for weekly allowance. We were also told that at the end of the training they will be given another N15,000. Most of them are from the North-Central axis. This week, we got some trainees that came in from the FCT.”
On what the students are being taught, Abutu explained: “We started by addressing habits formation because habit is core in anything anybody wants to acquire in life. After that we went on to introduce the concept of scriptwriting.”
On ICT, Folarunsho said: “Basically, we are teaching them web design, graphics and basic IT knowledge. You cannot just give them laptops without teaching them basic things.
“The first thing we did, we introduced them to the IT world itself. We made them to understand what they stand to benefit.
“Being an IT person, we made them to know people who have done well in the IT world like Mark Zuckerberg and the likes. We have been waiting for the laptops because, without the laptops, you will not be able to do anything.
“The laptops came yesterday. We are going to allocate it to them. For example, Word Design, PHP there is no way you can work without a laptop.”
A participant of software computer science of N-Power, Thomas Abigail, who shared her experience, said: “I started in January. The programme is expected to last for three months. I applied online and I was invited through SMS. The training has been good.
“They have been teaching Java script, how to programme, how to create a website, how to do graphics and applications. Actually, the laptop came a bit late.
“The resource persons have been great. They have been teaching us manually. Now that the laptops are here, they assured us that we will have the laptops. I had an idea about software. So, I am building on my experience.”
Another beneficiary, Ngusha Elisha, complained of poor renumeration and the high cost of meals.
She said: “I resumed on February 15. So far, I have learnt scripting, story making, writing for film production, how to generate stories that can be of interest to hold the audience spellbound.
“There are some challenges we, the participants, are experiencing, particularly feeding. The money given to us is not enough and that has affected us. The price of food here is very high. Each day, a person eats more than N1,500.
“A plate of food here is N700. Sometimes, we eat once a day, which is not enough for us. But our facilitator is very good. He has really impacted on us. I believe that our coming here was not a waste due to what we have learnt.
“The Federal Government has done its best to ensure that the youths get empowered.”
Umar Ahmed Sarki attributed the problem to payment discrepancy.
He said: “The programme has been fair. Just that a lot of my colleagues have been complaining about the payment.
“They said they have been seeing differences in the payment. Some colleagues from the N-Power creative are collecting different amounts of payment.
“For me, I have collected about N25,000, that is three distinct payment of N8,400. Some who went on break are complaining because they were not paid transport fare because of that they stayed away.
“The training has been going well. Just that we did not receive equipment for the training. We have been waiting for that for the past two weeks now. Thank God the system has arrived.”