1 March 2016

Nigeria: Buhari Never Promised Unemployed Youths N5,000 Stipends - Presidency

Photo: Ansu Konneh/IRIN
(file photo).

The Presidency has said that President Muhammadu Buhari never promised to pay N5,000 monthly allowance to unemployed graduates.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, said this in an interview with State House correspondents last night.

According to Akande, the N5, 000 monthly stipend provided for in the 2016 budget is for one million vulnerable Nigerians and the extremely poor.

"The 2016 budget submitted to the National Assembly has made an allocation of N500bn; the first time in the history of this country's budget where you've that huge chunk of money allocated for social investment. In that N500bn, close to about 20% of the entire budget, there are six social safety net programmes. One of them is the conditional cash transfer where the government is going to pay N5, 000 monthly to the vulnerable and extremely poor Nigerians. That promise stands.

"The president never promised to pay unemployed graduates N5000; the president never made that promise, and the government never made that claim that it'll pay N5, 000 to unemployed graduates," he stated.

He said the programme for unemployed graduates was the direct creation of 500,000 teaching jobs for which they would be trained and deployed to schools, assuring that "That still stands."

Akande clarified that: "In addition to that, there is also a scheme to train 370, 000 non-graduate youths for skill acquisition and vocational training. During the time of that training, they'll also be paid. So, the president did not say that he'd be giving unemployed graduates N5, 000."

But, the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha and his Nasarawa State counterpart, Tanko Al-Makura differed on the N5,000 allowances issue.

Both governors spoke yesterday separately at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja after meeting with the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

They were reacting to reports quoting President Muhammadu Buhari to have dropped the All Progressives Congress (APC) promise on the matter.

Okorocha, who is the chairman of the Progressives Governors' Forum, emphasised that the payment of the allowance had to be implemented one way or the other.

He, however, said disbursing "physical cash" could be problematic.

"To be honest with you, it's a great idea, but there are many ways to give that support. Sometimes, it could be in cash which has its own challenges. Handling of that is also in itself a wonderful and great idea. Take for instance, in Imo State, they used to do what they called 'empowerment.' They buy motorcycles and give people N5,000 or N10,000. For me, that's not my style," he said.

But the Nasarawa State Governor said nobody can challenge President Buhari's decision to review the campaign promise of the monthly allowance.

The governor said: "And if at any point in time the president is reviewing that issue, I think he is the only person to do that because what he is doing is in the best interest of the country. And so, it is not challengeable by anybody whatever his/her position is."

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