By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA – The Ministry of Power yesterday denied reports of alleged embezzlement of N3.5 billion training programme involving its Permanent Secretary, Amb. Godknows Igali and the Programme Co-ordinator, Mrs. Sybil Williams, describing it as none existent.
The ministry in a statement issued in Abuja,:explained that it was only aware a Presidential approval of N1.3 billion meant the Nigerian youth training programme under NAPSAS.
According to the statement; “Our attention at the Ministry of Power has been drawn to a report published on pages 1 – 2 of your Monday, September 14, 2015 edition, with above caption. The report claimed that a petition detailing wrong doings against the Permanent Secretary, Amb. Godknows Igali and the Programme Co-ordinator, Mrs. Sybil Williams, as having allegedly embezzled money in the sum of N3.5 billion meant to run a training programme for Nigerian youth.
“The training programme is to ensure that trainees undertake technical skill acquisition for 6 months to fill-in the gap within the manpower in the power sector.
“There are a number of fallacies that are raised in the said petition, the origin of the N3.5 billion is still unknown. What the Ministry is aware of is a Presidential approval of N1.3 billion to be sourced from the existing capital allocation to the Ministry.
“For a programme that was flagged off on November 6, 2014. cannot be immune from lack of budgetary releases, that have become epileptic, so even what has been made available so far for the programme is far less than the approved N1.3 billion. I wonder where these officials could have had access to N3.5 billion.
“To further rubbish NAPSAS, the report claimed that only 25 trainees attended the flag off of the programme in Abuja whereas it is on record that 20 trainees per State including the FCT were invited for the event, the total number being 740 trainees.
“A recent report from Accountant General’s office confirmed that no Capital Allocation were made from 2 quarters last year (2014), while non has been released this year (2015). It is against all odds that the Ministry has kept NAPSAS programme on track.
“The approved stipend for the participants is N18,000.00 and not N20,000.00 as quoted by the report.
“We are constrained again to reiterate that “NAPSAS programme was meant to train artisans/technicians and not engineers as erroneously quoted, so the Permanent Secretary would not have said that 600 Engineers have been recruited after completing their training and had been offered employment into 11 Discos”.
“However, it expedient to note that NAPTIN is responsible for the training of engineers, who are to operate in the power sector.
“It is on record that after the completion of the course by the 1st batch of NAPSAS trainees, 288 NAPSAS graduates have been absorbed into some DISCOs and other related power sector companies.
“Furthermore, report from the field indicates that more trainees would be considered for employment and there after details will be forwarded to NAPSAS Secretariat.”