News Punch understands.
Reports had earlier stated that President Muhammadu Buhari had declared that he would not pay such money as promised, but rather channels the money to other sectors of the economy.
In a what could be perceived as contradictions, Osinbajo on Monday insisted that the money would be paid but to the extremely poor and vulnerable Nigerians because it is the welfare package of the administration.
Osinbajo’s position came as Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al-Makura and his Imo State counterpart, Owelle Rochas Okorocha disagreed on the initiative. While Al-Makura supported Buhari’s decision not to pay the stipend, Okorocha said it was a noble project that should be implemented.
The two governors spoke at the State House on Monday after a meeting with Prof. Osinbajo.
The Vice President, through his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, told newsmen yesterday that the payment of the stipends had been captured in the 2016 Budget before the National Assembly but that the scheme would not be extended to unemployed graduates.
Buhari had declared in Saudi Arabia that the payment of the N5,000 stipend which the APC promised Nigerians was not on his priority list because he did not see any reason to pay money to people who don’t work.
Akande however, declared that the N5,000 stipend promise for the vulnerable and poor Nigerians still stands because the 2016 Budget has an allocation of about N500 billion for social investment, including the stipends.
His words: “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.
“In that N500 billion which is half a trillion naira, close to about 20 percent of the entire budget, there are six social safety net programmes. And 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 stipend, which is already in the budget, is for the vulnerable Nigerians and the extremely poor, and this year by the grace of God, once the budget is okay, one million extremely poor Nigerians will receive N5,000 monthly.”
Al-Makura declared that Buhari was at liberty to renege on the promise and should not therefore not be challenged.
The governor pointed out that Buhari reserved the right to change his mind or review the promise based on the prevailing realities.
The governor told journalists after he met with Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa to discuss security and power supply challenges in Nasarawa State that “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. So, it is not challengeable by anybody, whatever his position.”
The governor said he discussed with the Vice President the long-standing communal clashes between Funlani and farmers and Agatu communities in Nasarawa and neighbouring Benue State.
Okorocha, who met with Osinbajo, told State House correspondents that the N5,000 stipend promised Nigerian jobseekers by the APC remains a fantastic policy that will be implemented “one way or the other” in spite of the President’s reluctance.
His words: “To be honest with you, it is 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 now, have introduced what is called empowerment. They buy motorcycles and give people N5,000 or N 10,000.
“For me, that is not my style. My style is to declare free education-from primary, secondary to university. Nobody pays one naira in Imo State.
“The very poor people who have to ensure a lot of social inconveniences of school fees is no longer dong that, what has happened is that he has saved that money to produce further wealth.
“If you keep money through that system, it creates more impact than physical cash. Physical cash sometimes creates more problems.
“So, it is great idea, we have to do it one way or the other as time comes,” he said.