LongRead: Sharing billions! What we know about Nigerian govt ‘dashing’ citizens money

NANS declares school children feeding during lockdown a fraudNANS declares school children feeding during lockdown a fraud

The launching of the Rapid Response Register (RRR) on January 19, 2021, said to be an emergency intervention database of poor Nigerian households, was not the first time the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had made such moves.

The event was flagged off by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has often claimed that its Social Investment Program (SIP), part of which was designed to pay N5000 monthly into the accounts of supposed vulnerable Nigerians, is a fulfillment of the government’s promise of taking citizens out of poverty.

According to Osinbajo, the major objective of the RRR was to use a technology-based method to identify urban poor Nigerians who will receive the stipend every month for six months.

Osinbajo’s Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity, Laolu Akanda, had said shortly after the launch:
“Osinbajo today launched a technology-based Rapid Response Register which identifies urban poor people who, in the next 6 months, will receive N5000 monthly. In all, one million households will benefit from this special cash transfer being implemented by the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry.”

The Vice President himself said of the new scheme:

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“As of December 31, 2020, we have identified and registered about 24.3 million poor and vulnerable individuals into the National Social Register; equivalent to about 5.7 million households.

“Through this project, we are currently injecting about N10 billion directly into the hands of about two million poor and vulnerable households every month.

“With the RRR, which uses a wholly technology-based approach, we are primed to achieve an end-to-end digital foot-print in cash transfers for the urban poor.

“The category of Nigerians who will be in this register is typically the urban/semi urban poor engaged in the informal sectors of the economy, who lost their source of livelihood due to the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and jobs.

“The Federal Government plans to extend cash transfers to households in this register for a period of 12 months.

“Mobile phone numbers of those deemed eligible for assistance will be linked to digitised bank accounts to receive cash support, under an expanded cash transfer program of the Federal Government.

“These cash payments are designed to boost consumption for these households, build their resilience, and in some cases, inject fresh capital into small businesses.

“About 3,115 households have received alerts of payments instantly at the flag-off of the project. A total of one million households would be impacted directly under the scheme in the next six months. Each household already identified will receive N5000 cash transfer from January to June this year.”

As part of these poverty alleviation schemes of government, we have had the school feeding programme that was meant to provide meals for school children.

While this was a welcome development, the controversy that came with it, especially claims by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, that several billions had been spent by her ministry to feed school children during the COVID-19 induced lockdown last year, is yet to settle.

The famous TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni introduced by the President Buhari administration, where the sum of N10,000 was allegedly given out to some Nigerians to help them establish businesses, has also raised plenty dust, with critics insisting that the schemes, which were mostly carried out close to election times, were subtle vote buying strategies of the ruling All Progressives Congress.

We take a look at all the time the Nigerian government has ‘dashed’ its citizens money.

Sharing the billions

1. The commencement of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) in July, 2017, was seen by many Nigerians as one programme that would provide social security to Nigerians and help lift vulnerable and poor Nigerians out of poverty.

While announcing the take-off of the programme, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the government had already implemented the payment of various cash sums to beneficiaries in nine pilot states including Borno, Kwara, Bauchi, Cross River, Niger, Kogi, Oyo, Ogun and Ekiti States.

According to the VP, the federal government had allocated N500 billion in the 2016 budget for the implementation of its social welfare agenda and also allotted the same amount in the 2017 budget.

Osinbajo had said that the nine pilot states were chosen because they already had an existing social register that identified the most vulnerable and poorest Nigerians in their localities through a community-based targeting method designed by the World Bank.

He said with the commencement of the CCT, the federal government was going to implement all four of its flagship social investment programmes for poor and vulnerable Nigerians with the other three being the N-Power Volunteer Corps programme, the National Homegrown School Feeding programme which aimed to provide meals to school children, and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), which was to provide soft loans ranging from N10,000 to N100,000 for artisans, traders, market women, amongst others.

2. In April 2020, the Federal Government yet again said it had begun the distribution of N5,000 to about one million indigent Nigerians under the Conditional Cash Transfer scheme.

However, the beneficiaries were reportedly paid N20,000 each, covering four months in “line with a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that the conditional cash transfers for the next two months be paid immediately to beneficiaries,” Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq had said.

Going further, Farouq who supervised the disbursement of the funds to the beneficiaries at the Kwali local government council of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, said:

“The exercise commenced about five years ago and it is geared towards supporting the poor and vulnerable households of our society.

“We give them monthly stipends of N5000 every month but Mr President has directed that we give them two months advance payment and we are here today to carry out that directive of paying the two months advance payment.

“We have over a million people across the country. For the FCT and this particular area council, we are giving about 5000 households in this area.

“It is a very long process and many people like religious leaders, community leaders and different groups all came together to identify the poorest and vulnerable households in their community.

“So when the President directed that payment for four months, from January to April, be made to beneficiaries, we went into the register to know those already captured and who are to benefit.”

3. Also in April 2020, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouq, said 2.6 million vulnerable Nigerians were to benefit from the Federal government cash transfer intervention programme before the end of the year.

She also said that over 11 million vulnerable households had been identified in 35 states to benefit from the palliative measure.

Out of the 2.6 million vulnerable Nigerians, Umar-Farouq said Abuja had 5,982 households, in Nasarawa, 8,271; Katsina, 6,732; and Anambra which had 1,367 households respectively.

“The Social Intervention Programme (SIP) has been on since 2016 and the social national register that we have as at March 31, 2020, is made up of 11,450,537 poor and vulnerable people in 35 states and 453 Local Government Areas across the country.

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“Now, currently the beneficiaries that we give this cash transfer to are 2.6 million people. In FCT, we have 5,982 households, in Nasarawa, we have 8,271 households, Katsina has 6,732 households, and Anambra has 1,367 households. And by general standard, households composition is 6 persons.

“We are thinking of expanding the register; we are in touch with the UN social protection donor group to see how the register can be rapidly expanded to cover additional 1million households. But we have 11.4 million households in the register that are ready for this intervention.”

4. Again, in August 2020, the Federal Government announced that it had enrolled over 15 million poor persons in the National Social Register (NSR) to fast track the implementation of the Social Investment Programme.

Hajiya Farouq, while making a presentation of food items donated to Nigeria by the ECOWAS Commission in Kano, said:
“It is worthy to state that at the onset of the pandemic, the National Social Register (NSR) contained data of over 2.6 million poor and vulnerable households, representing over 11 million individuals in the 36 States and the FCT.
“With the accelerated registration and rapid expansion, the NSR has, as at June 30, grown to 3.7 million, equivalent to 15.5 million individuals in the 36 states and FCT.”

She added that the government would go ahead and dole out money to Nigerians captured in the NSR under the Conditional Cash Transfer programme.

5. In October, 2020, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq again told Nigerians that the government had disbursed over N6 billion to poor households in six out of the 14 local government areas of Zamfara State under its Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT).

She disclosed that the CCT which commenced under the Buhari administration in 2017, was aimed at empowering poor and vulnerable Nigerians as well as respond to the deficiencies in capacity and lack of investment in human capital by previous administrations.

“The programme is designed to deliver timely and accessible cash transfers to beneficiary households and set to support development objectives and priorities, to achieve improvement in health and nutrition, school enrolment and retention, environmental sanitation and empowerment, among others,” the minister had said.

“It is designed to provide a one-off grant to some of the poorest and most vulnerable women in rural Nigeria.
“A grant of N20,000 will be disbursed to over 150,000 poor rural women across the 36 states of the federation,” she added.

6. In January, 2021, Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq, again, announced that the Federal Government had doled out N9.5b to over 143,407 poor and vulnerable persons across 34 local government areas of Katsina State under the Conditional Cash Transfer programme from inception.

She made the disclosure while flagging off cash grants for 6800 rural women in Katsina, saying it was a “part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ambitious program designed to take millions of Nigerians out of poverty in the next ten years.”

“Katsina State has received a total of N9,562,205.00 from the Federal Government Conditional Cash Transfer programmes from inception to date, impacting the lives of over 143,407 poor and vulnerable persons in the state.

“The social register is expended to cater for poor households in Katsina State, and 12 local government councils are currently benefiting from the intervention; these include Bakori, Batagarawa, Baure, Bindawa, Dandume, Ingawa, Kaita, Kankara, Mani, Musawa, Rimi and Danmusa.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has set up a technical committee to work with the ministry to expand the National Social Register by one million additional households in order to include more vulnerable people whose conditions are at risk as a result of Covid-19,” she had said.

Umar-Farouk added that the social interventions of the Buhari administration would continue to cater for more vulnerable households and that the cash grant distribution of N20,000 was to help them start up businesses and establish themselves.

7. Also on January 14, 2021, Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq was again in Katsina State where she supervised the launching of yet another N20,000 cash grant by the federal government targeted at about 160,000 poor and vulnerable rural women and households.

According to Umar-Faruk, the government, in partnership with the World Bank, had designed a safety net programme for Nigeria, including cash transfer and COVID-19 rapid response register.

“The federal government, in partnership with World Bank, had designed a safety net programme for Nigeria that included cash transfer, as well as a COVID-19 rapid response register.

“The President has approved one million beneficiaries in the country to be given another N5,000 for the next six months to cushion the effects of COVID-19. This time around, we are going to target the urban poor and the artisans who lost their small businesses as a result of the pandemic.

“We are targeting over 160,000 poor and vulnerable rural women in Nigeria for the N20,000 grant to uplift their economic status. Our rural women with disabilities will also be included.

“The N20,000, will go a long way in supporting any serious woman to start a business. What is most important is how judiciously you utilise the money.

“Over N9.5 billion was received by Katsina State under the Conditional Cash Transfer programme from the inception of this administration to date,” the minister revealed.

She added that, “These grants had impacted on the lives of over 142,474 vulnerable households in the state, as 12 local governments were currently benefitting from the programme.

8. On January 19, 2021, the government, in bringing Nigerians up to speed, announced that about 24.3 million poor Nigerians would get N5,000 each for a period of six months.

Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq, who made this known at the inauguration of the Federal Government’s emergency intervention database for the urban poor called the Rapid Response Register (RRR), said it was designed to rapidly identify, register and provide succour to people who were not previously captured in the social register, in fulfillment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.

“According to records, about 24.3 million poor and vulnerable individuals were identified at the end of 2020 and registered into the National Social Register. Each beneficiary will receive N5,000 for a period of six months.”

Umar-Farouq added that the intervention database was needed to develop the capacity for rapid response to any emergency including natural or man-made disasters.

Also speaking at the launch of the RRR, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said:

“The groundbreaking success of the RRR now emboldens us to achieve our aspiration of a social security programme for a minimum of 20 million Nigerians in the next two years. This will be the largest of its kind on the continent.”

What impact?

As beautiful as some of these schemes may sound, many Nigerians have continued to wonder who the ‘real’ beneficiaries of the cash transfers are.

Critics keep questioning the truth in these claims and how the vulnerable and poor Nigerians are identified and selected.

Indeed, many have queried how these paltry sums of N5000, N10000, and N20000 will genuinely impact the lives of the poorest of the poor as the government keeps insisting that the monies are meant to empower them and take them out of poverty.

Another cause for concern is the sense it makes to dole out cash to poor people instead of creating an enabling environment for the creation of self-employment, with its attendant multiplier effects.

The mantra of teaching a man how to fish instead of giving him a fish should suffice here.

Timelines

1. In July 2017, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration kicked off the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) in fulfillment of its electioneering promise of providing social security for Nigerians and lifting millions of the poorest of the poor out of poverty.

2. In April 2020, the Federal Government said it had begun the distribution of N5,000 to about one million indigent Nigerians under the Conditional Cash Transfer scheme.

3. In April 2020, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouq, said 2.6 million vulnerable Nigerians were to benefit from the Federal government cash transfer intervention programme before the end of the year.

4. In August 2020, the Federal Government announced that it had enrolled over 15 million Nigerians in the National Social Register (NSR) to fast track the implementation of the Social Investment Programme under the Conditional Cash Transfer programme.

5. In October 2020, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq told Nigerians that the government had disbursed over N6 billion to poor households in six out of the 14 local government areas of Zamfara under its Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT).

6. On January 14, 2021, Sadiya Umar Faruq, announced that the Federal Government had doled out N9.5b to over 143,407 poor and vulnerable Nigerians across 34 local government areas of Katsina State as part of the Conditional Cash Transfer programme from inception.

7. In January, 2021, Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq was again in Katsina State where she supervised the launching of a N20,000 cash grant by the federal government targeted at about 160,000 poor and vulnerable rural women and households.

8. On January 19, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo launched the Rapid Response Register (RRR) meant to serve as an emergency intervention database capture of poor Nigerian households to be paid the sum of N5000 monthly as a fulfillment of the government’s promise of taking Nigerians out of poverty.

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