As the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) continues to generate controversy, a Federal lawmaker, Ben Kalu, has raised an alarm that there is so much secrecy about the programme.
Kalu, who is the Chairman House Committee on Media, made the claim on Thursday during an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.
He expressed dissatisfaction at the response by the Special Adviser to the President on NSIP, Mrs Maryam Uwais, who said names of the beneficiaries of the programme cannot be made public.
Earlier, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development had commenced the payment of conditional cash transfer to poor households in Abuja to assuage the effects of COVID-19 lockdown.
A Call For Transparency
Kalu during the interview, however, said the Ministry needed to be more transparent about the disbursement of funds.
He said, “The programme is a wonderful programme but our concern is about the delivery. There is so much secrecy about the programme. They need to be more transparent.”
“Telling us you cannot publish the names of the beneficiaries…we members of the National Assembly, we are entitled to know what you are doing.
“This is based on the Constitution and will also enable us to address the questions coming from members of our constituents concerning the programme,” the lawmaker added.
A Secret Operation?
According to him, there might be need for investigation if the Ministry continues to operate in ‘secrecy’ and without carrying the National Assembly along in its operation.
“To treat the programme is secrecy and then we are asked to ignore it because of protocol…We are not probing them at the moment but if the need arises, we will invite them,” Kalu stressed.
On Tuesday, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, faulted the implementation of the programme after a meeting with the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, in Abuja.
They called for the immediate suspension of the register used for the scheme when they were informed by officials that accompanied the Minister to the gathering that some N12 billion was being paid monthly for school feeding programme without verification.
The wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, has faulted the Social Investment Programme of the Federal Government, saying the programme has failed to achieve its aim in Kano and most parts of Northern Nigeria.
Mrs Buhari mentioned this during an interactive session with women as part of the presidential inauguration ceremony at the State House in Abuja.
The wife of the President, who specifically mentioned the conditional cash transfer component, questioned the method used in executing the programme.
She also faulted the amount of money spent on the purchase of mosquito nets.
“They have spent $16 million buying mosquito nets. I did not get it, but maybe some people have gotten it. I didn’t get it. But I feel that, that’s my personal opinion, $16 million is enough to fumigate Nigeria,” she said.
Generally, Mrs Buhari did not agree with the method adopted for the programme.
She said, “I was expecting the social investment programme, N500 billion to be utilised in a different method; in order to achieve the aim. But I don’t know the method they used. Most of the Northern States did not get the money. I don’t know – my state didn’t get the money. I don’t know if your state got the money.”
Continuing with her criticism, Mrs Buhari explained that the programme worked well in some state and that for other states where it did not succeed, a different approach should have been used.
She added, “In my state, one local government benefitted from it, out of 22 local governments. I didn’t’ ask what happened and I don’t want to know.”
Although the wife of the President is concerned about the performance of the programme in her state, she suggested it was worse in Kano. “For it to fail woefully in Kano is not a good sign,” she said.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the Federal Government remains committed to empowering over 30 million MSME’s in Nigeria with interest-free, collateral-free loans.
The Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to the Vice President, Mr Laolu Akande, who represented the VP, said this on Thursday while giving a progress report on the GEEP micro-credit products (TraderMoni, MarketMoni, and FarmerMoni).
“GEEP’s vision (in the long term) remains to empower the over 30 million MSMEs in Nigeria with interest-free, collateral-free loans,” Akande said.
He also debunked reports that the TraderMoni scheme and other GEEP micro-credit products – a component of the Buhari administration’s Social Investment Programme, had been suspended.
According to him, they are still very much in operation and “so far, a target of 30,000 minimum beneficiaries per state has been achieved in majority of the 36 states and FCT since after the national and state polls.”
He further explained that “what the implementing agency has been doing since the last phase of disbursements is generating the balance of program funding while ramping up on the states with shortages.”
Read the full statement below…
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
30,000 PETTY TRADERS HAVE RECEIVED TRADER MONI LOANS SINCE AFTER ELECTIONS
*With repayments, some have started collecting 2nd (improved) loans of N15, 000
Contrary to speculations in some quarters, the TraderMoni scheme and other GEEP micro-credit products (MarketMoni and FarmerMoni) – a component of the Buhari administration’s Social Investment Programme, are still very much in operation, Mr Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to the President (Office of the Vice President), has said.
Mr Akande disclosed this in a progress report on the GEEP micro-credit products (TraderMoni, MarketMoni, and FarmerMoni).
According to him, “So far, a target of 30,000 minimum beneficiaries per state has been achieved in majority of the 36 states and FCT since after the national and state polls.”
Besides, he added that “what the implementing agency has been doing since the last phase of disbursements is generating the balance of program funding while ramping up on the states with shortages.”
“Consequently, disbursements have continued to happen in the states; for instance, we have had over 28,000 disbursements across 10 states since after the elections. Our priority is ramping up these numbers in the balance of states before we move to phase two of the program after detailed reviews and structural enhancements for larger scale.
Under the Next Level agenda, Trader Moni loans will target ten million petty traders, a significant ramp up from the initial target of two million beneficiaries.
On the role of the Ministry for Industry, Trade and Investment in the implementation of the scheme, he said, “it is actively involved in the project.”
Mr Akande said, “that ministry is, in fact the oversighting Ministry of Bank of Industry, which is the deploying agency. The office of the Minister executes the GEEP program via the Bank of Industry.
“The governance structure of GEEP includes the office of the Vice President (National Social Investment Office), The Ministry of Trade and Investment, and the Bank of Industry.”
Speaking on measures adopted to enhance repayments, the Presidential Media Aide said GEEP has pioneered innovative solutions to drive repayment compliance.
“Working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), we successfully piloted the concept of the BVN as digital collateral; and we saw repayment go up significantly on the MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans.
“For TraderMoni, beneficiaries can pay back at any commercial bank in the country just like a NEPA or WAEC bill; all they need to provide the bank teller with is their phone number. We also developed and successfully piloted scratch cards as a repayment option for beneficiaries who stay kilometres away from the nearest banks in their community. The cards are loaded the same way Telco recharge cards are loaded, thus requiring no new learning curve.
“This improved repayment received compliance to the extent that in January, the Bank of Industry began second level disbursements – disbursements of N15,000 – to beneficiaries in Lagos, Borno, Ogun and Oyo states for trader who had successfully paid back their first N10,000 loans,” Mr Akande disclosed.
According to him, “GEEP’s vision (in the long term) remains to empower the over 30 million MSMEs in Nigeria with interest-free, collateral-free loans.”
The GEEP programme, a component of the Buhari administration’s Social Investment Programme (SIP) has since inception about two years ago, impacted many lives, improved living conditions and expanded opportunities for ordinary Nigerians to do petty trading as well as small and medium scale businesses.
Under the Trader Moni scheme, an initial N10,000 loan is given to petty traders and once they repay within six months, they can receive a new N15,000 loan and when they repay that they can get another N20,000 loan until they get as much as N100,000
Media & Publicity Unit Office of the Vice President 21st March 2019
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday said the Federal Government has spent the sum of N15 billion to give interest-free loans to over 300,000 artisans, traders and farmers across the country.
The Vice President said this at the 9th presidential quarterly Business Forum at the State House in Abuja.
He added that less than N250 billion of the budgeted N500 billion for the Federal Government’s social investment programme has been spent so far which is allocated in two cycles.
“We spend under N250 billion in the two cycles. We have not spent N500 billion because we have not been able to allocate that much revenue to it and yet the results are so obvious.
“So far, we have spent N15billion on interest-free loans ranging from N50,000 to N350,000 and this has been disbursed to over 300,000 market women, traders artisans, farmers across all states of the country and FCT,” he said.
Osinbajo added that the Federal Government is working with eight banks who are committed to the trader money scheme in the disbursement.
He also stressed that 56% of the beneficiaries of the free-interest loan are women.
The Nigerian government says it has mobilized 200,000 youths out of the targeted 500,000 for the volunteer graduate scheme in its social investment programme.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation, Afolabi Imokhuede, was on Sunrise Daily on Channels Television, where he shared updates on the progress of the programme.
“As you know, it’s a paid volunteer programme for two years wherein they will work as teaching assistants in the public primary schools. They will work as healthcare delivery assistants in the community health centre and also as Agric Extension workers in the farms.
“We’ve done this in strong collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Heath and basically the 36 states and the FCT,” he said.
He gave a background into the Social Investment Programme and how it has been designed, explaining that asides the graduate component which is for 500,000 beneficiaries, there is also the non-graduate component which is for about 100,000 people out of which 75,000 will go for vocational jobs while the remaining will go for technology-based jobs.
He gave the assurance that contrary to criticisms, the project has been done with consideration for the needs in the states and in collaboration with the governors.
“Each state governor has given us a focal person and these are very senior persons in the level of commissioners or special advisers to them and obviously the FCT Minister also has given us a focal person.
“The states are actually going to be in charge of deployment as the demand is.
“The programme is designed such that those who are going for the ‘Teach Programme’ would go into public primary schools but some states have already started making suggestions that they may also want to deploy them to junior secondary schools but those will be up to the states,” he said.
Imokhuede noted that the programme has been designed to “speak to the needs of the economy” especially in line with the diversification efforts of the government.
This makes its collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture an important part of the scheme.
He explained that the agric extension workers would not only be trained but would also be provided with tools while a web-based training portal will be available to them to facilitate the “earn while you learn” system.
Collaboration with the private sector still remains an integral part of government’s drive to create jobs in the country and Mr Imokhuede stated that the Social Investment Programme is not an attempt by the government to take the place of entrepreneurs.
Rather, the private sector will become beneficiaries of the output on the long run.
He added that unlike the graduate scheme, the empowerment scheme which involves vocational and technological trainings would be private sector driven.
“Our private sector partners are very active. They are the ones who are actually going to provide the needed apprenticeship and work experience that these young beneficiaries would get,” he said.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has reassured Nigerian youths of his administration’s commitment to creating an enabling environment that will ensure they realise their potentials.
The President’s statement was contained in his message on Friday to Nigerian youths to mark this year’s International Youth Day.
Government Belongs To You
“I am delighted to commemorate this occasion, the second such celebration since I took office.
“The roles that young Nigerians played in the historic election that brought our government to power will never be forgotten. This government belongs to you,” President Buhari stated.
He said that his administration was also mindful of the fact that Nigeria had one of the youngest populations in the world.
“Those young people are immensely energetic and talented, consistently blazing the trail in the arts, sports, business and technology. We are proud of what you have done and what you are able to do.”
Reeling out some initiatives of the government that are targeted at expanding the economic opportunities available to young Nigerians, the President said ‘N-Power’, a government job creation scheme, provided a platform for 500,000 young Nigerians to get jobs in the agriculture, education, healthcare and technology sectors.
“The Aso Villa Demo Day will soon bring 30 of the most innovative young Nigerians to the State House to showcase their talent in providing technology-based solutions to some of our most challenging problems.
“The Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), part of our 500 billion Naira Social Investment Programme, will provide soft loans to thousands of young entrepreneurs across the country.
“These are just some of the many initiatives we have designed and are implementing for you,” he stressed, reminding the youths that they are the strength and future of Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has challenged African nations to urgently address the problems of poverty and inequality even as the global community focuses on its new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Vice President made the call on Saturday in a statement by his spokesman, Mr Laolu Akande, while speaking at a side event hosted by the President of Ghana, Mr John Mahama, on Africa and SDGs at the African Union meeting underway in Kigali, Rwanda.
Osinbajo, who led the Nigerian delegation to the continent-wide meeting told the gathering of Presidents and several Heads of delegations that the whole idea of the SDGs “is really about addressing inequality and poverty.
“The problems are so obvious that however we describe the programme, we really must do something and something urgently.”
He cited the example of the 500 billion Naira social investment programme to address poverty in Nigeria by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
“In Nigeria, in the current budget cycle we have the largest social protection programme in the history of the country. It’s a 500 billion Naira programme (worth over $2.5bn as at the time budget was signed).
“Basically we are looking at lifting many out of poverty, of course many are familiar with the size of the Nigerian state and we have close to hundred and ten million people who are poor and about two-tenth are in extreme poverty.
“So it is a very huge problem and part of what we are trying to do is to look at how not just to empower people but also to ensure that what they are given is sustainable.
“For the women, we are doing a programme, micro-credit programme for a million market women and artisans.
“All would be given facilities, training facilities as well to enable them to be able to do some work for themselves and to continue to be able to live.
“And we think that giving this micro-credit loan to women is to make sure that they handle money better and do a much better work on the whole,” he said.
Poorest Of The Poor
Professor Osinbajo hinted that Nigeria would offer the Conditional Cash Transfer to women, especially the less privileged whom he said were difficult to identify.
“In the case of Conditional Cash Transfer, again we are handing these to women. We are giving (this to) another million, to the poorest of the poor.
“In determining who the poorest is, we had problems on that, but we have very good assistance from the World Bank and the Bill Gates Foundation. They helped in trying to map the really poor,” he said.