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 Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has called for fair hearing for the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, in the allegation of abuse of office leveled against him by the Senate.
After its National Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, the ACF National Publicity Secretary, Muhammad Ibrahim, said “the forum remains on the side of justice for all and therefore supports the probe of the SGF on the corruption allegations levelled against him”, saying such will give him fair hearing.
The forum also demanded constant security surveillance and intelligence gathering around troubled areas of Kaduna, Zamfara and Taraba states where lives and property have been lost, to forestall future occurrences.
Mr Ibrahim said: “It is not in the character of the ACF to take sides on allegations of corruption against any government official or private individuals without proper investigation. The rule of natural justice demands that before you pronounce any body guilty of an allegation, you must give him a fair hearing.
“The anti-corruption war cannot be applied selectively, all are subject to thorough investigation. Those found culpable are punished in accordance with the law.
“We, therefore, support the courage of President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate allegations of corruption against top government officials of his administration. This clearly demonstrates his total commitment to doing what is right irrespective of who is involved. It is our hope that the Attorney General of the Federation will avail the officials concerned a fair hearing in the interest of justice.
“ACF is equally calling on Nigerians to support President Buhari in this very difficult anti corruption war. The challenges are enormous which requires collective duty to put all hands on deck to save our dear country from insecurity and corruption”.
On the killings in Kaduna, Taraba, Zamfara and Benue states, Mr Ibrahim the ACF expressed concerns, saying it is worried about the recurrent communal clashes between farmers and herdsmen in some Northern States like Zamfara, Taraba, Benue and Kaduna.
“This seemingly intractable security challenge in the north which have continued to hinder our socio-economic development is disturbing and unacceptable.
“The recent communal clashes in some communities in Gassol Local Government Area of Taraba State and that of Jama’a and Kauru Local Government Areas in Southern part of Kaduna State where innocent lives were killed and property destroyed, are worrisome and condemnable.
“So, in consideration of these and other insecurity situations in the region, ACF in collaboration with Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation is proposing to host a Northern Security Summit in February next year that will address the numerous issues of cattle rustling, kidnapping, communal clashes etc. The Summit is aimed at complementing the efforts of Government to finding lasting solutions to the problems.
“We commend the efforts of the affected state governments in their unwavering commitment to the pursuit of peaceful co-existence through dialogue and peace building processes among the communities in their States.
“We urge the Security Agencies to step up surveillance and intelligence gathering to forestall future occurrences,” he suggested.
The ACF spokesman, however, expressed the groups condolences and sympathy to the families that lost their loved ones during the incidents.
The Senate had called for Mr Lawal, over his involvement in a 223 million Naira contract, meant for the humanitarian crisis management in the northeast Nigeria.
In an interim report by the Senate’s ad-hoc committee investigating the mounting humanitarian crisis in the northeast, the committee stated that the Presidential Initiative on the Northeast awarded contracts to top government officials, friends and family members.
The investigation of the committee further showed that a 223 million Naira contract was awarded to Rholavision Engineering Limited, which is anchored by the SGF to carry out information and communication technology services.
The Northern Governors’ Forum has urged the Federal Government to establish the national grazing route and reserve for cattle rearers in other to end the frequent clashes between Fulani herdsmen and local farmers in some states in the region.
This was part of the fallout of its meeting held in Kaduna on Monday.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, said that a national policy for nomads is the best global practice to curb incessant fight among cattle rearers and farmers.
The Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suzwam, told journalists that his government was working seriously with his counterparts in Nasarawa and Taraba states to address the frequent clashes between Fulani herdsmen and local farmers and urged the National Assembly to pass the National Grazing Reserve Bill.
Governor Aliyu, also speaking about the spate of attacks by the Boko Haram sect in the Northern region, particularly in Borno State said, “The situation has gone beyond the normal pattern that we gave to Boko Haram and I think we need to really appreciate the gravity of the situation.
“It appears that we are becoming a little callous that we don’t seem to care much about what is happening. We must continue to encourage the Federal Government to really do what it is supposed to do.”