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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with Afolabi Imoukhuede, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Nigerian President on Job Creation and Youth Employment and other officials at the N-Power Unit in Abuja (Photo Courtesy: N-Power/Twitter)

As the Federal Government of Nigeria keep on with the N-Power programme, it said on Monday said that it is engaging the services of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), in fighting corruption in the implementation of its Social Investment Programmes (SIP), Concise News reports.

The partnership which was officially made public on Wednesday at the Auditorium of the State House, Abuja, will also witnessed the launching of a Toll-Free Whistleblower hotline.

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This was disclosed in a statement issued by the Communications Manager, National Social Investment Office (NSIO), Justice Tienabeso Bibiye.

The aim of this partnership according to the statement was to establish a systemic structure to identify, curb and address corrupt tendencies in the Programme.

The statement stated that, “The NSIO/ICPC partnership, which would be formally launched at an open event on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at the Auditorium of the State House in Abuja, is among other things, aimed at raising awareness to garner public support in fighting the menace of extortion, fraud and intimidation in the delivery and scaling up of the four projects under NSIP at the field level.

“It also aims at stimulating thinking and synergy around determining practical solutions and innovative approaches towards resolving the challenges NSIP beneficiaries (and their target audience) face, thereby improving the implementation of NSIP for the benefits of the general populace and more specifically, for the benefits of the poor and vulnerable.

“It is also an opportunity to establish a systemic structure to identify, curb and address corrupt tendencies in the Programme.

“A major highlight of the Programme which will be flagged off by the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouk is the launch of a Toll-Free Whistle blower Hotline 0800- Call-ICPC (0800 -22554272).”

Bibiye said that the event, which is expected to produce positive outcomes that would further strengthen the execution of the SIPs for the benefit of Nigerians, would be open to Civil Society Organizations, Anti-Corruption Agencies, SIP monitors and the media.

He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had in a Nationwide Broadcast to mark Nigeria’s 59th Independence Anniversary restated his administration’s commitment to consolidating on the huge gains of the NSIPs, which have empowered over 12 million poor and vulnerable Nigerians in the last three years.

Having begun moves to institutionalize the programme, he said, the Buhari Administration has remained committed and unwavering in its quest to ensure that the Social Protection Programme is executed in an open, accountable and transparent manner and in line with the zero tolerance for corruption stance of the current democratic dispensation. He said

“Indeed, the National Social Investment Office NSIO, which coordinates the components of the Social Investment Programme SIP Namely National Home Grown School Feeding Programme NHGSFP, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme GEEP, N-Power and the National Cash Transfer Programme NCTP, has worked in accordance with the vision of the Administration by instituting processes and procedures that aim at insulating the NSIP from corrupt practices.

“Deliberate deployment of technology in identification, screening, and payments to beneficiaries, strict adherence to due process in the award of contracts as well as compliance to bureaucratic processes make the NSIP stand out as one of the most transparently executed Government Programs in Nigeria’s history.

“However, recent disturbing field reports that border on extortion of cash transfer beneficiaries and cooks on the school feeding programme (given their low levels of literacy), as well as reported cases of truancy on the part of Some N-Power beneficiaries, have compelled the need for close monitoring of the various components of the SIPs to achieve the intended objectives.

“The NSIO has also been collaborating with security and anti-graft Agencies Such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Service (DSS) for a more robust monitoring approach, which partnership has led to several arrests and prosecution of defaulters.

“Nigeria remains a vast and diverse terrain, while many of the NSIP beneficiaries reside in remote communities. The NSIO has ensured that from the Federal level, all disbursements can be monitored and tracked through the BVN and unique IDs of the beneficiaries but disturbing reports from the field call for more diligence from the CSOs, the anti-corruption Agencies and concerned members of the public.

“The NSIO, therefore, continues to encourage and provide opportunities for feedback from the field, if only to safeguard the entitlements of the poor and vulnerable.

“This latest collaborative effort between the NSIO and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) is to further tighten all loose ends, to effectively checkmate acts that tend to undermine the strident efforts of the Federal Government to alleviate poverty in the country.”