BUHARI BEGINS N5,000 MONTHLY PAYMENT TO POOR NIGERIANS
More than one year after it came on board, the president Mohammadu Buhari led administration has commenced payment of N5,000 monthly stipends it promised to poor Nigerians. The development was substantially embedded in the campaign promises of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC during the 2015 presidential election. The Programme is also a part of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) of its Social Investment Programmes, SIP for which N500 billion was appropriated in the 2016 national budget. Aside the N-Power jobs where graduates and other participants in the Programme are paid N3,000 per month, the CCT also targets one million Nigerians who would receive N5000 monthly payments as a form of social safety net. Nine states are mapped out for coverage in this first batch and already, many of the beneficiaries were reported to have started receiving their first payments by Friday last week. The states were Borno, Kwara, Bauchi, Cross Rivers, Niger, Kogi, Oyo, Ogun and Ekiti. Of the states, Borno, Kwara and Bauchi have started receiving the money while the rest of the states in the first batch would commence the CCT payments soon. A statement from the office of the Vice President where the project is domiciled stated that “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. Funds for another set of five states to complete the first batch of nine states would follow soon.” It also stated that “the sequence for the payment of the money would be operationally managed by NIBSS”. According to the release, “The nine pilot states were chosen because they have an existing Social Register that successfully identified the most vulnerable and poorest Nigerians through a tried and tested community based targeting (CBT) method working with the World Bank. However other states have already begun developing their Social Registers and would be included in subsequent phases of the CCT implementation.” It added that more beneficiaries of the CCT would be captured by the social registers already existing in 8 states, saying that the process was both transparent and credible. “Beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer of the Federal Government would be mined from the Social Register, initially developed by 8 States through a direct engagement with the World Bank. Those states are featured in the first batch, with the added inclusion of Borno States where a validated list of IDPS were compiled in addition to the Social Register which is expected to go round the country. “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 will actually commence community mobilization for the creation of the Register in more States soon, to expand the scope and reach of the CCT across the country”, the statement said. Meanwhile, States such as Plateau, Jigawa, Adamawa, Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Katsina and Taraba 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.” The States were to be followed by Delta, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Imo and Ogun States. According to the statement “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.” It also stated that “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.” The statement which was signed by Mr. Laolu Akande, the spokesman of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo recalled that the administration had also kicked off the N-Power programme where graduates numbering 200,000 were engaged and paid N30, 000 per month, National Homegrown School Feeding Programme and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, (GEEP). Payment had already begun in States like Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Delta, Imo, Kwara, Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ogun, Kogi States and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. According to Akande, the payment stopped temporary during the Yuletide but would be resumed immediately soon. With the commencement of the CCT, the Buhari administration is now implementing four of the Federal Government’s SIP. He said with the packages, the government was committed to touching more lives and getting many homes out of poverty. “Besides the CCT, 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, the Buhari administration has also kicked-off the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, (GEEP). “Under GEEP, soft loans ranging from N10,000 to 100,000 have been 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 Nov 25, 2016. “At the last count, for the first phase, beneficiaries have been drawn from the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Delta, Imo, Kwara, Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ogun and Kogi States. “However, disbursements were halted and deferred until after the festive season. Vetting and approval of beneficiaries are now being continued through the month, with the expectation and plan that by month-end disbursements would have been made to 33,000 beneficiaries. “Regarding the 200,000 beneficiaries of the N-Power programme, close to 50% of the graduates, have now been physically verified, and started receiving their monthly stipends of N30,000 last week. A second batch of 300,000 unemployed graduates are expected to be selected early this year to make up the half a million target set by the Buhari administration. “The verified graduates are now being deployed to work as assistant teachers in schools, as community health aides and as agricultural extension workers, in more than 20 States of the Federation. These States include; Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Anambra, Benue, Cross Rivers, Borno, Gombe, Edo, Jigawa, Katsina, Plateau, Kogi, Osun, Rivers, Zamfara, Niger, Sokoto, Ogun and Taraba. “Government has also started the implementation of 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. More states are expected to join this new year. “In the new year, it is the plan of the Federal Government to scale up the implementation of the SIP to touch the lives of millions of Nigerians in fulfillment of it’s promises and in furtherance of its Change agenda”, Akande explained.