N-Power: Confederate Rumble As Investigation On ‘Ghost’ Beneficiaries Finally Released
An undercover investigation exposing the bribery and fraud sabotaging the Federal Government’s N-Power scheme has been released on Tuesday.
Concise News reports that the investigative series by Nigerian newspaper Business Day revealed over N23.4m paid to 65 non-existent teachers (N-Teach) of an initiative the Muhammadu Buhari administration promises will soon become the largest post-graduate job scheme in Africa.
An investigative reporter, Ibrahim Adeyemi went undercover for two weeks at seven government-owned schools in Sokoto state to unravel the misconduct.
According to the reporter, “they’re ‘ghost teachers’ scattered all over the north-western state and operating in cahoots with principals and headmasters of disadvantaged schools.”
N-Power official, experts react
When contacted by BusinessDay, Zayanu Dalhatu, the desk officer of N-Power in Sokoto, spoke evasively about the efforts made by the body to monitor the activities of the N-Power teachers in the state.
“We have complained to the national (N-Power) office in Abuja to help us so that we can supervise them by ourselves. You know each local government has what we call monitoring officers; their job is just to monitor teachers around them and check those who are around and those that aren’t,” Dalhatu said.
“And then we are going to write a report on those who are not coming and those who are. Our own job here is to coordinate and when we have complaints, we write their names and send to Abuja. Even now we receive some names of some volunteers who absconded from work from Sokoto South,” he said, noting that even if they (the N-Power officials) would start going around now, they do not have enough resources to do that.
Referring to the N-Power ghost teachers, Shettimmah Akilahyel, the Sokoto State coordinator, Legal Aid Council, said it is fraudulent to enjoy the government’s stipends without doing the work one is being paid for.
“There is Public Service Rule for both federal and state governments that indicates that a government worker must always be at work regularly,” Akilahyel said. “It is an offence; absenteeism is an offence. Another thing is the issue of fraud. It’s fraudulent to put someone on a payroll without working. It’s a very serious fraud.”
Mansur Buhari, a lecturer in Usmanu Dafodiyo University, Sokoto, faulted the N-Power officials for lack of scrutiny and regulation of employed teachers.
“One of the problems with the N-Power is lack of effective supervision,” he said. “There ought to be a check mechanism that will allow them to know who actually goes to work and who doesn’t. There should be a kind of provision where these people are supervised daily – supervision not only whether they come or not but what they teach and how they teach.”
He also argued that there should be some evaluation of the positive impacts of the scheme.
“The government gives them the impression that they are enrolled in this N-Power to get some source of income. The government does not give N-Power teachers the kind of belief that it is service to the country with some stipends. So, when people are employed to teach and they only see that as a meal ticket, of course, they won’t take it seriously,” he said.
“If they are not well checked, the government will continue to waste its money for nothing and in the end, it is going to affect the education system. When people do not go to work to teach these children that are supposed to be taught, of course, some important part of their life is missing because education is life.”
The lecturer argued that N30,000 is enough to employ somebody permanently to teach.
“For the volunteer teachers, the government is telling them that teaching is a temporary job for them. They are on stipends but they feel the government only wants them to make money some way; not that the government is serious with them. So, they would look for other jobs to do,” he said.
He also faulted the government for providing free food for school children without providing adequate facilities that aid in teaching and learning.
“How can you not equip the school with furniture and instructional materials and you cook food to give to these children? They will only eat and go back home. Now the school has become a place where the student will just go to feed and return home, instead of going to fill their brains with some ideas and returning home.”