THE Federal Government on Friday said it cannot afford the N300billion payment demand made by N-Power beneficiaries.
The 500,000 beneficiaries made their demands through their representatives during a protest in Abuja on Thursday.
The beneficiaries, who will soon exit the programme, requested the Federal Government to employ all of them as well as pay them a grant of N600, 000 each.
The Federal Government is currently conducting an enrolment exercise to absorb 400,000 youths in the scheme in continuation of its move to empower youths as the present beneficiaries exit the scheme by the end of this month.
Reacting to their demands, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, said their demand was not covered in the engagement agreement signed at the onset of the programme.
It further explained that it had so far spent hundreds of billions on the current beneficiaries in the last four years.
This is contained in a statement in Abuja on Friday by the Deputy Director Information of the Ministry, Rhoda Iliya.
The statement reads: “The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, observed on Thursday, July 23, a rally at the National Assembly which later proceeded to the Federal Secretariat Complex.
“The protesters claimed to be representatives of the Federal Government’s N-Power beneficiaries that are about to be exited.
“They requested the Federal Government to employ all the 500,000 beneficiaries as well as pay them a grant of N600, 000 each.
“The ministry wishes to state that this demand was not part of the agreement of engagement they signed with the Federal Government, which clearly stipulated that they will be exited after two years.
“It is noteworthy to state that the FGN has expended hundreds of billions to N-POWER beneficiaries during the last four years and is liaising with the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, which is responsible for the payment of their stipends, to ensure that any outstanding legitimate claim is settled.
“The FG cannot afford to continue to pay the exited N-POWER beneficiaries stipends indefinitely, more so that the process of engagement of new beneficiaries has already begun.
“The ministry even though it is not a lending agency is in contact with other Ministry’s, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) such as CBN and NALDA, to see if the exited beneficiaries can key into their empowerment programmes.”