By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The presidency has declared that no scheme under the federal government’s Social Investment Programmes (SIP) attracts an application fee.
In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, the presidency threatened to prosecute anyone found to be selling the forms under the SIP.
Aknde consequently urged Nigerians to refuse paying anyone money for SIP.
Akande said: “We have been receiving reports about instances where Nigerians are being asked to pay application fees for SIP forms. We want to make it clear that such action is illegal and could warrant criminal prosecution.
“Let us make this very clear: in order to benefit from N-Power, you don’t have to pay any application fees at all. The way to apply is to go online to the N-Power portal. But it is not open right now as we are still working on the 200,000 unemployed graduates already engaged.”
Regarding the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), he also explained that there were no application forms or fees to be paid either.
He said: “We are using a Community-Based Targeting template of the World Bank and as we have explained, this is the mode of identifying the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable.”
He observed that there were instances during the N-Power online application process when some leaders uploaded information of their people onto the N-Power Internet portal to meet the online application requirement.
“We don’t frown at such an effort as long as the information of the N-Power applicants is properly inputted online. But we frown at anyone selling forms to Nigerians for this programmes,” he said.
On claims that some party agents were involved in such illegal form sale, Akande said “the rule affects everyone. No one should sell forms for N-Power or any of the President’s Social Investment Programmes. That is exploitation and it is fraudulent.”
Akande said while the CCT payments had started in the pilot states, not everyone in those states had been paid due to logistics and banking challenges.
He disclosed that three banks Stanbic, Access and Guaranty Trust Bank had been very helpful in the process, including supporting the implementation of aspects of the CCT pro bono.
Akande also announced that the Homegrown School Feeding Programme would also proceed this week with the addition of five states.
He said the states would receive federal government funding to ensure that primary school pupils in those states start enjoying one meal a day.
Those states are Ogun, Oyo, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Osun. When added to Anambra where the school feeding programme kicked off last year, there would now be isx states implementing the scheme.
According to him, at least 5.5 million Nigerian primary school pupils would be fed for 200 school days under the free Homegrown School Feeding Programme, according to the 2016 Budget, which has an allocation of N93.1billion appropriated for the feeding scheme.