*As N-Power Beneficiaries To Earn N30,000 Monthly
In its bid to touch the lives of Nigerians more positively, the Federal Government says it has commenced the payment of the first batch of N5, 000 monthly stipends to about one million indigent and vulnerable Nigerians through the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) under its Social Investment Programmes (SIP).
The payments as a form of social safety net budgeted for in the 2016 Budget began last week and would cover nine states, and many of the beneficiaries have already reported receiving their first payments by Friday, December 30, 2016, according to a statement by Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President.
“Funds for the commencement of the payments in four states were released last week to the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) – the platform that hosts and validates payments for all government’s social intervention programmes,” he said, assuring that funds for another set of five states in the first batch would follow soon.
Beneficiaries in Borno, Kwara and Bauchi States have started receiving the stipend, he added, noting that they would be followed by those of Cross Rivers, Niger, Kogi, Oyo, Ogun and Ekiti States.
The pilot states, he explained further, were chosen because they have existing Social Registers that successfully identified the most vulnerable and poorest Nigerians through a tried and tested community based targeting (CBT) method working with the World Bank. Other states have already begun developing their Social Registers and would be included in subsequent phases of the CCT implementation.
Beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer of the Federal Government would be mined from the Social Register, initially developed by eight States through a direct engagement with the World Bank. Those states are featured in the first batch, with the inclusion of Borno State, where a validated list of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) was compiled in addition to the Social Register.
Working with the World Bank, the CBT process has now been adopted for developing the Social Register in the other States around the country, for transparency, objectivity and credibility in the selection of the poorest and most vulnerable beneficiaries for the programme.
The Federal Government plans to begin community mobilization for the creation of the Register in more States soon he added, as a way of expanding the scope and reach of the CCT across the country.
Meanwhile, Plateau, Jigawa, Adamawa, Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Katsina and Taraba States have so far complied with the stipulated framework provided, and are set for the community based targeting method for the development of their Social Register within their jurisdictions.
These will be followed by Delta, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Imo and Ogun States.
“Once the community mobilization, identification and selection processes are completed, the information garnered from the poorest households would be entered onto the Social Register in the states and the National Register at NIBSS, after which the cash transfers would be disbursed to the beneficiaries.
“All the funds approved for the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programmes, SIP, are domiciled with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning. In addition, the payment information and processes for all beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s SIP are hosted at NIBSS, as the Consolidated Beneficiary Register, to ensure and fortify efforts at authentication and verification, as well as for effective and efficient programme management.”
With the CCT, Akande added, the Buhari administration is now implementing four of the Federal Government’s SIP.
Others are: The N-Power Volunteer Corps designed to hire half a million unemployed graduates which has now engaged 200,000, and the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme now running in three states.
He said the administration has also kicked-off the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, (GEEP) with soft loans ranging from N10,000 to 100,000 designed for artisans, traders, market women among others.
“Already, thousands of cooperatives, market women associations, farmers and enterprising youths, have been identified and registered for the purpose, on an ongoing basis, and the disbursement of the soft loans through the Bank of Industry have started since November 25, 2016,” with beneficiaries in the first phase from the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Delta, Imo, Kwara, Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ogun and Kogi States.
It is expected that by month-end, a total of 33,000 beneficiaries would have been covered, just as almost half of the 200,000 beneficiaries of the N-Power programme, have now been physically verified, and started receiving their monthly stipends of N30,000 last week are now being deployed to work as assistant teachers in schools. They also work as community health aides and agricultural extension workers, in more than 20 States including: Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Anambra, Benue, Cross Rivers, Borno, Gombe, Edo, Jigawa, Katsina, Plateau, Kogi, Osun, Rivers, Zamfara, Niger, Sokoto, Ogun and Taraba.
The administration, Akande also noted, has started implementing the National Home-grown School Feeding programme, designed to feed 5.5 million school children for 200 school days in the first phase of the programme.
Although the initial design was to feed pupils in 18 States, funding challenges had affected an earlier take-off. But the programme has now commenced in Osun, Kaduna and Anambra States, with more states expected to join this new year.