The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari says it has now started the payment of 5,000 Naira monthly stipends to the poorest and the most vulnerable in Nigeria.
It says the payments are being made through the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) of its Social Investment Programmes (SIP).
The amount was part of campaign promises the administration made to Nigerians before they were elected.
A statement by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, said that under the CCT, one million Nigerians would receive 5,000 Naira monthly payments, as a form of social safety net for the poorest and most vulnerable as budgeted for in the 2016 Budget.
“In the first batch that commenced last week, nine states would be covered, and many of the beneficiaries have already reported receiving their first payments by Friday last week, December 30, 2016.
“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.
“Though the sequence for the payment of the money would be operationally managed by NIBSS, beneficiaries in Borno, Kwara and Bauchi States have started receiving the money. The other states in the first batch to commence the CCT payments are Cross Rivers, Niger, Kogi, Oyo, Ogun & Ekiti States,” the statement read.
Nine Pilot States
The Vice President said that the nine pilot states were chosen because they had 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.
He, however, pointed out that other states had already begun developing their Social Registers and would be included in subsequent phases of the CCT implementation.
He said: “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 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 mobilisation for the creation of the Register in more States soon, to expand the scope and reach of the CCT across the country”.
According to the presidency, 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 States are to be followed by Delta, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Imo and Ogun States. Once the community mobilisation, 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 commencement of the CCT, the Buhari administration is now implementing four of the Federal Government’s SIP,” the statement further read.
The Vice President also stated that 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).
According to him, under GEEP, soft loans ranging from 10,000 Naira to 100,000 Naira 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 November 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,” Professor Osinbajo explained.
He, however, stated that 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, the Vice President said that close to 50% of the graduates, had 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,” he stated.
Giving further breakdown of programmes of the government for Nigerians, the Vice President said the government had 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.
He pointed out that 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.
professor Osinbajo further assured Nigerians that 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 fulfilment of its promises and in furtherance of its Change agenda”.
The National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons has flag off humanitarian support Programme to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Yobe State, north east Nigeria.
The Federal Commissioner of the agency, Mrs Sadiya Umar-Farouck, flagged off the programme in Damaturu the state’s capital on Wednesday.
She says the first phase will include supply of both food and non-food items to the IDPs in the affected area.
The supply is coming at a time that UN agencies have raised concerns over severe cases of malnutrition in the region triggered by insurgency that has left the northeast region devastated.
UNICEF said getting ‘nutritious food’ items to the region had been hampered by activities of Boko Haram terrorists and even counter-terrorism operations in the area.
In the last few weeks, however, the IDPs in Damaturu have continue to receive assistance of food and non-food items from philanthropies, government, non-governmental organisations and spirited individuals across the country and beyond.
This time it is the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs that have brought succour to the displaced.
While kick-starting the distribution of the relief materials to the IDPs at the Pompomari Camp in Damaturu, Mrs Sadiya Umar-Farouck, said that the first phase would be distribution of food and non-food items while the second phase would focus on durable solutions that would make the return of the IDPS a memorable one.
The state governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, represented by his Deputy and Chairman of the Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Relocation of IDPs in the state, Mr Abubakar Aliyu, called for more assistance to the remaining IDPs still taking refuge at the Pompomari Camp.
He revealed that 2,500 IDPs were currently taking refuge at the Damaturu official camp, as many more have returned to their ancestral homes sequel to the return of peace in some affected areas.
“The need for more assistance to the IDPs became necessary, as all those at the camp and the returnees have not engaged themselves in meaningful means of livelihood for several years.
“The Yobe State Government has carried out lots of reconstruction and rehabilitation works to improve the lives of the IDPs and we appreciate the efforts of the government, philanthropists, NGOs and other spirited individuals for the untiring support to the displaced,” he told the gathering.
Assistance received from the various philanthropists have been shared to the IDPs in the official camp in Damaturu and to those who have returned to their ancestral homes.
The idea is to support them as they strive to lay a foundation for their means of livelihood that had been taken away by over seven years of insurgency in the region.
Over two million persons have been displaced in the region while over six million are in dire need of humanitarian aid, as the northeast region had been cut out of food supplies in the heat of insurgency.
Boko Haram, a terrorists group, had, within the last seven years, pushed for the establishment of an Islamic state and an end to Western education in the region.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Economic Community of West African States, to jointly improve the situation of displaced people in the West African sub-region.
The UNHCR has also predicted that people living in the Bakassi area may not be able to prove a link with either Nigeria or Cameroon in the nearest future.
The commission’s representative to Nigeria, Mrs Angele Dikongue-Atangana, made this known at a meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
She noted that the partnership framework between UNHCR and the ECOWAS parliament “comes at a critical time in the sub-region, where additional efforts are needed to improve the protection of the environment for persons of concern, and ensure the full respect of their rights”.
Mrs Angele explained that through the MoU signed on Wednesday, UNHCR and the ECOWAS parliament have formalized their cooperation into a framework.
According to her, “this would allow both organizations to better protect the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees, returnees, IDPs, stateless persons and those at risk of statelessness.
“It would also ensure proper interpretation and application of relevant international, regional and national laws” she explained.
For the sake of clarity, she went further to describe the stateless person, saying that there were many of them currently found in one state or the other within the sub-region.
“They are not citizens of those states, but cannot point to any other country of their origin because they found themselves there as displaced persons due to violence, hunger, disaster among others,” she added.
She admitted that the issue of statelessness was very old, and recalled that in 2014, a decade of combatting the issue was declared.
She, however, expressed hope that the partnerships that the UNHCR is entering into across the world, would bring the issue to an end eventually by the year 2024.
The United States says it is currently providing over $240M in development and humanitarian assistance through comprehensive programs in north eastern Nigeria and the broader Lake Chad Basin region.
This is according to the Director of the United States International Agency For Development (USAID) Mission in Nigeria, Michael Harvey, who is in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, on an assessment tour.
He said the tour was to obtain first-hand information on the spending of sister donor agencies operating in war-torn northeast Nigeria and funded by USAID.
The insurgency problem in northeast Nigeria has forced millions of citizens out of their homes with school-age kids kept out of their classes, a situation that had made the USAID intensify its intervention programmes in the affected areas.
The Director of the USAID said the intervention programmes were targeted at Internally Displaced Persons in Borno, Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi, Taraba and Yobe States.
USAID believes the task of addressing the many issues families in the displaced people’s camps as well as those in the host community are dealing with is overwhelming.
The victims of insurgency in Bakassi, originally from Gwoza Local Council in Borno State are the first to host the team.
They complained of poor living conditions and feeding, which they said had led to malnutrition and other illnesses.
“We need water and drugs and the weather is very harsh here because there are no trees. The sun disturbs us a lot,” one of the displaced persons, Hauwa Bello, told the group.
Part of the intervention plans of the USAID is to identify and empower displaced families preparing them for their return home.
The USAID also encouraged informal community schools assuring them of its willingness to partner with relevant authorities to give as many kids as possible unlimited access to education.
The region had seen over six years of insurgency and terror attacks mostly carried out by members of Boko Haram terrorist group.
The Borno State Government has set aside 100 million Naira for the rebuilding of Dalori and Mairi villages recently attacked by suspected members of Boko Haram.
Governor Kashim Shettima briefed reporters about the rehabilitation plan on Monday after a trip to Saudi Arabia where he sort critical development partnership with the Islamic Development Bank on rebuilding towns affected by insurgency.
He expressed sadness over the recent attacks, describing them as a setback to the ongoing rebuilding efforts.
One hundred million Naira would be set aside for the project, the governor told villagers in Dalori where over 65 locals were killed and more than 10,000 people displaced.
Late last year, the Borno State government commenced a rebuilding programme in communities destroyed by insurgents.
The plan is for the Internally Displaced Persons taking refuge in Maiduguri to begin to return to their original homes for an official closure of the makeshift camps by May.
A committee had already been set up to oversee the rebuilding of the recently attacked villages.
On the current state of the counter-terrorism operations in the northeast, a Borno Senator, Bashir Garbai, under whose constituency the recent attacks occurred, claimed that both the military and Boko Haram had full control of three separate local government areas in Borno State and share control in all the 21 other local government areas.
But Governor Shettima believes recent attacks in villages around Maiduguri are a backlash of successful military operations in Boko Haram hideouts in the Sambisa forest.
He insisted that the outlawed Boko Haram terrorists have been hugely decimated within the last seven months.
The military authorities are yet to substantiate or dispel the claims that Abadam, Mobbar and Kalabalge Local Government Areas of Borno State are still being controlled by Boko Haram.
Boko Haram activities in the northeast have left over two million persons displaced.
The terrorist group is attempting to establish and Islamic State in the region and end Western education.
The Coordinator of the National Information Centre, Mike Omeri on Thursday said that the victories recorded by the Nigerian army against the Boko Haram terrorist group was evidence that the postponement of the 2015 general elections was neither in vain nor a devious ploy by the government.
The general elections which had been slated for February 14 and 28 were postponed for security reasons and to buy time for the Nigerian army to sweep out Boko Haram insurgents in the north eastern region of the country.
While giving updates on security operations on Sunrise Daily, Omeri noted that there was increased collaboration and vigilance on the part of the security operatives in the fight against the insurgents.
Commenting on the postponement of the general elections, Mr Omeri noted that it was necessary to give the security agents time to restore peace in troubled areas.
“From the information coming from the North East, it is evident that successes are being recorded,” Omeri noted, adding that there were evidences that the request to postpone the general elections was not in vain and neither was it a ploy as alleged by the opposition.
Asked about the efforts at rescuing the Chibok school girls, who were abducted by members of the Boko Haram sect on April 14, 2014, Omeri said “operations are still ongoing” to free as many that were taken forcefully, including the girls.
Asked about citizens who were forced to abandon their homes to escape Boko Haram attacks, Omeri disclosed that some internally displaced persons in some communities within the country have started returning to their various homes.
He however noted that some communities have been advised to wait for the army to give a go-ahead before moving back into their communities.
“Where peace and stability is established, people have started coming back. Where they still need to undertake mop up operations and give necessary security advice, citizens are advised to wait and operate within the advice that would be given by the military and other appropriate authorities”.
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Gwoza in north-east Nigeria, who relocated to Abuja, the nation’s capital, are excited about the re-capture of communities in parts of the north-east, but are also concerned that the Boko Haram extremist might return.
To enable them return to their communities, they are asking the government to put measures in place to ensure that the Boko Haram terrorists will not return to their communities.
They made the request on Sunday when Channels Television’s correspondent, Amaka Okafor, visited the IDPs camp in Apo area of the Federal Capital Territory.
“Not much has changed at the Internally Displaced Persons’ camp. The make shift houses have poor sanitary conditions and lack basic amenities,” she said.
However, more of their worries are the chances of renewed attack if they returned home.
They are seeking government’s assurance that arms and ammunitions would be mopped up in the areas and that soldiers and other security agencies would remain in the communities for at least six-months after re-capturing the territories controlled by the Boko Haram sect.
That way they would be happy to return home, they said.
For others, however, their return will depend on first-hand information from their relations, before they can make that move
One thing is certain, they are tired of their condition of living in the camp and are no doubt ready to return home, but they want the Federal Government to do more than recapture their communities by ensuring the security of lives and properties before they can return home.
Boko Haram Terrorists Drowned
Nigeria’s military has increased the tempo of the counter-terrorism operations in the north-east, with the support of troops from other countries bordering Nigeria in the region.
A spokesman for the military said on sunday that a large number of Boko Haram terrorists drowned in the Lake Chad as they fled the heavy bombardment by Nigerian Air force.
In a statement, Major General Chris Olukolade said the insurgents had buried land mines in over 1,500 spots on the routes leading to the town.
He said all the landmines were skillfully cleared one after the other.
“The mining of the grounds could not save the terrorists from the aggressive move of advancing troops.
“A large number of terrorists have drowned in the Lake Chad as they fled the heavy bombardment by Nigerian Air force heralding the advance of Nigerian troops on mission to flush them out of Baga.
“Not even the strategy of over 1,500 spots with landmines on the routes leading to the town could save the terrorists from the aggressive move of advancing troops,” he said.
Since the attack on communities in the north-east by the terrorist group began over five years ago, over 600, 000 person have been displaced, with some running to neighbouring countries for refuge.
The Independent National Electoral Commissions says Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), who are not in government camps in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, will not participate in the February elections.
According to the Chairman of the INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, lack of accurate data for the IDPs living in informal camps within and outside those states had made it impossible for INEC to plan for them in the elections.
The INEC boss made the clarification in Abuja on Tuesday at a meeting with representatives from the states with affected persons.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representative in Nigeria, Angele Dikongue-Atangana, had put the number of IDPs in Nigeria’s north-east at 650,000.
Majority of the displaced persons were displaced as a result of insurrections in region by members of the Boko Haram terrorist group. The over five years insurgency has also forced some persons in the region to flee to neighbouring Niger and Chad for refuge, while others are in camps not under government control.
Professor Jega analysed the commission’s preparedness to conduct elections in the states – Adamawa, Borno and Yobe – stressing that the commission had made provision for only IDPs living in formal camps to participate in the February polls.
Some governors from the affected north-east states insisted that security issues should not be underplayed even if it would mean shifting the elections date.
But the Governor of Borno State, Governor Kashim Shettima, insisted that no electorate should be denied the right to vote under any guise.
Other representatives expressed concerns over the possibility of incumbents using the IDPs to their own advantages.
Having listened to the submissions from these stakeholders, the INEC is expected to make some adjustments and come up with a better template for the IDPs during the elections.
A group of Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria have asked the government to restore peace in the north-east, where some communities have been invaded by members of a terrorist group, Boko Haram.
Expressing their expectations for the year 2015, the group told reporters in Abuja on Sunday that their major desire was for peace to be restored in the region that had seen most dwellers migrate to other states as a result of the crisis.
Channels Television’s correspondent, Amaka Okafor, reports that in spite of their situation, living in makeshift houses and depending on people’s good will to get on with their lives, the displaced persons found the time to unwind, dance and swing along with music from a radio set.
Even the children are not left out of the fun, but under their happy faces are a feeling of nostalgia and a longing to return home and to their livelihood.
These Nigerians hope that the year 2015 will mark an end to insurgency and the return of peace to the north-east region so they can return home.
Others, however, want the government in the mean time to provide them with better accommodation and treatment pending when their villages and communities are safe to return to.
It remains to be seen if their expectations would be met before the end of the year.