Power sector apprenticeship scheme on course, says govt
Government said the scheme was meant to create job opportunities and impact basic power sector technological skills to the teeming unemployed youths in the country.
In a statement in Abuja, government explained that the trained youths when employed, would provide the much needed critical technical skills in the Power Sector, especially to the DisCos and GenCos.
“The scheme aimed at filling the technical gap for middle level manpower in the power sector, specifically artisans, pole climbers, switch gear operators, electrical fitters and sub-station operators.
“However, in the course of the programme, it was discovered that there is need to extend the courses to cover such areas as Communication Strategy, and Customer Services as those gaps were recognized, hence the need to fill them,” the statement explained.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Power has said petitioners who want the Senate to probe an alleged N3.5 billion scam on the National Power Sector Apprenticeship Scheme (NAPSAS) were distorting facts.
The petitioners had asked the Senate to prove the Permanent Secretary and some other officials over NAPSAS, is an initiative of the Federal and State government through the Ministry of Power with the aim of bridging the wide gap in the low-end skill cadre of the Power sector.
But in a statement, the Ministry reputed the claim that N3.5 billion was embezzled in the scheme. The Ministry said only the sum of N1.3 billion was released by the training programme.
“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,” Deputy Director (Press) at the Ministry, Timothy Oyedeji noted.
Oyedeji explained: “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.
He noted: “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.”
He went on: “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’.
“It is however 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.”