Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Of the $322 million embezzled monies recovered from the late General Sani Abacha regime, $22.216 million was spent on empowerment schemes designed to lift millions of Nigerians from poverty level, the federal government said on Thursday.
Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, Mrs Maryam Uwais stated this at a press conference on the progress of the social investment programmes initiated by the Buhari administration.
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She further disclosed that a total of N470.8 billion was released from 2016 to 2018 for the delivery of federal government social investment programmes across the country.
The four-broad programmes are the N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfers, National Home-Grown School Feeding and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes (GEEP)
Uwais said that from 2016 till date, the federal government budgeted an annual sum of N500 billion for social investment. However, in 2016, only N79.98 billion was released.
Similarly, she said, N140 billion was released in 2017 and N250.4 billion in 2018.
Uwais said at the end of March, the National Social Investment Programmes had made direct impacts on 12,069,153 beneficiaries, and over 30 million secondary beneficiaries, comprising the cooks, farmers, families, employees and members of the community.
“Under N-Power, we have 526,000 youth spread across 774 LGAs teaching in public schools, acting as health workers in primary health centres and as agric extension advisors to small holder farmers in our communities.
“Nigeria is fast on its way to becoming the leader in Africa in the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, by feeding over 9.7 Million pupils and still counting.
“Today, we have 103,992 cooks on our payroll, feeding 9,714,342 pupils in 53,715 government primary schools around 31 States. These children are able to eat a balanced diet, towards improving their learning outcomes.
“Also, under the GEEP, we have the FarmerMoni, MarketMoni and TraderMoni.
“For the first two, funds between 10,000 to N350,000 are paid into the accounts of the successful applicants who belong to a registered cooperative and have a bank account.
“For TraderMoni, petty traders are given a loan of N10,000 and upon repayment within six months, the beneficiary becomes eligible for a larger amount, at which point they must open an bank account,’’ she said.
The Head of the Cash Transfer Programme, Mr Henry Ayede said, using the National Social Register data on poor and vulnerable households in the country, the government currently pays N5,000 monthly to 872,700 households.
He said that the beneficiaries were identified by the communities; therefore, the government was sure that the money gets to those in true need.
In addition, the Head of the School Feeding Programme, Mrs Bimbo Adesanmi, said that the government was spending about N70 to feed a child under the programme.
She said that the government was able to spend less on nutritious meals by sourcing for all ingredients directly from the farmers without using middlemen.
She also revealed that the government deworms the children benefiting from the programme every six months to reduce frequency of infections.