As if to say it’s a follow up from the statement credited to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohhamed, where he said that the Buhari-led administration will not fulfill all the campaign promises, the President himself have struck another blow as regards the N5,000 stipend to be paid to certain Nigerians. It has funnily become a question of “who is to be paid?”
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that there was never a time during the 2015 presidential campaign when he promised to pay N5,000 stipend to unemployed youths. He said this in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, in an interview with State House correspondents last night.
During an interactive session with Nigerians in Saudi Arabia, President Buhari was reported to have claimed that the payment of the N5,000 monthly allowance which was promised by his party during the campaigns of the 2015 election, was nowhere near the top of his priority list.
According to Akande, the N5,000 stipend stipulated in the 2016 budget is to be paid to one million extremely poor Nigerians and not unemployed graduates, as part of the six safety net programmes.
Clarifying the issue which has become controversial as a result of President Buhari’s turnaround on the promise, Mr. Laolu Akande stated that the payment of N5,000 to the less privileged would be carried out as contained in the budget. Akande also said that about of 500,000 graduates who would be brought into the teaching system would be paid N5,000 token while on training.
“The budget for 2016 which has been submitted to the National Assembly has made an allocation of half a trillion naira, the first time in the history of this country’s budget where you have that huge chunk of money allocated for social investment. There are six social safety net programmes. One of them is the conditional cash transfer where 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 N5,000; the President never made that promise and the government never made that claim that it will pay N5,000 to unemployed graduates. The programme for unemployed graduates is the direct creation of half a million teaching jobs so that they will be trained; 500,000 unemployed graduates will be trained to teach and they will be deployed to teach, while they are looking for their career paths or jobs. That still stands!
“In addition to that, there is also a scheme to train 370, 000 non-graduate youth for skill acquisition and vocational training. During the time of that training, they will also be paid.
“So the President did not say that he would be giving unemployed graduates N5, 000. The N5, 000 monthly stipends which is already in the budget is for the vulnerable Nigerians and the extremely poor. Once the budget is okay , one million extremely poor Nigerians will receive N5,000 monthly.”
The news of President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of turning his back on the All Progressives Congress, APC’s promise of paying N5,000 stipend to some jobless graduates in Nigerian has caused different reactions from the citizens ranging from the need to wake up to the present reality to assertions of unfaithfulness.
Al-Makura, the Governor of Nassarawa state supports the move by the president without questions, saying;
“The President is the person that can tell you precisely how he is working on promises and interventions that he has created by his ingenuity. 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.”
On the other hand, the Imo state Governor, Rochas Okorocha who is also the Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) believes that in as much as it is important to improve on infrastructure and boost productivity, there is also need for APC to fulfil its campaign promises to the people.
The governors gave their opinions separately yesterday while speaking with reporters after their meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja. Other prominent Nigerian citizens who spoke on the issue are Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, Dr. Tanko Yakassai and Dr Joe Okey-Odumakin among others.
Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, a retired Police Commissioner who spoke in support of Buhari said:
“The President has said he did not promise that. It is a wise decision to fix infrastructure instead of paying N5000 to unemployed ones. When infrastructure is fixed, people will get jobs and the nation will be better off. It does not mean reneging on campaign promise because he said he never said so.”
Elder statesman and high ranking politician, Dr. Tanko Yakassai, in a telephone conversation with Vanguard said the Buhari-led administration was not adequately prepared for governance and because of that, he was not caught unawares at the way in which President Buhari was getting rid of some of the promises he had made during his campaign.
According to him,
“I am not surprised because they did not plan for most of the promises they made and that is why they cannot implement them. They were not prepared for power and I have said this before, not to annoy them but to caution them on the need to go back to the drawing board.”
Dr. Joe Okey-Odumakin who is the President of the Campaign for Democracy as well as president of Women Arise for Change Initiative said:
“It is clear there is some disconnect as the president said ‘they’ promised but ‘I’ never did. What this shows is that there was no coordination in the campaign.”
Odumakin urged that “the president should now clarify what his own promises are so that people will not be holding on to what ‘they’ promised.”
You will recall that on November 4, 2015, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalong said the payment of N5,000 stipend to unemployed Nigerians would commence in 2016.