Uche Usim, Abuja
The Federal Government on Thursday revealed that it has spent $22.216 million out the $322 million recovered Abacha loot on various empowerment schemes in its strategic efforts to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
It also rejected the recent report of the World Poverty Clock which identified Nigeria as the poverty capital of the world because half the population (91.6 million) are now extremely poor. The government, while querying the report, said the data and parameters used were 2012 figures and occurrences; which neither captured current realities nor consistent with information domiciled with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Speaking in Abuja while giving account of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) of the Buhari administration, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Maryam Uwais revealed that the disbursement of Abacha loot commenced in 2018 as the National Social Investment Office (NSIO) needed to sort out issues with the back end and ensured it dismantled all identified glitches.
According to her, the Social Investment Programmes are anchored on four broad pillars which are the N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT), National Home-Grown School Feeding and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes (GEEP).
She added that each of the schemes uniquely targets different subgroups of Nigerians for empowerment; irrespective of religion, political affiliation and social class.
On N-Power, Uwais said 500,000 people spread across 774 Local Government Areas have been recruited to teach in public schools, act as health workers in primary health centres and as agriculture extension advisors to smallholder farmers in various communities.
“N-power is the employability and enhancement programme of the Federal Government aimed at imbibing the learn-work-entrepreneurship culture in youth between 18 and 35 for graduates and non-graduates. To provide a level-playing field for applicants, the application and selection process is structured to be technologically driven, with verification conducted first by NIBSS (through the BVN) and subsequently at the State level, by the State working with the National Orientation Agency and other partners.
“We are also about to commence the N-Power STEAM Junior programme which will engage pupils in 12 government primary and secondary schools (as a pilot) to learn, as part of their school curriculum, computer programming, graphics, animation, etc. This is in a bid to develop the knowledge economy, with an eye on the future”, she explained.
On the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), Uwais said the thrust from inception has been to provide one nutritious, balanced meal for 200 school days in a year, to pupils in classes 1 to 3 in public primary schools to boost enrolment, increase the cognitive function in children and battle malnutrition.
“Nigeria is fast on its way to becoming the leader in Africa in NGHSFP by feeding over 9.7 million pupils and still counting. We are also about to commence the N-Power STEAM Junior programme which will engage pupils in 12 government primary and secondary schools (as a pilot) to learn, as part of their school curriculum, computer programming, graphics, animation, etc. This is in a bid to develop the knowledge economy, with an eye on the future.
“FP requires 94 metric tons of fish, 7,260,862 eggs and 767 cattle slaughtered for the pupils being fed. Fruits, vegetables and grains are part of the carefully thought-out balanced diet for all of the pupils”, she noted.
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With regards to the Conditional, Cash Transfer Programme, the SSA it was designed to deliver timely and accessible cash transfers to beneficiary households, as well as build their capacities for sustainable livelihoods, through a meticulous selection process.
“The process has adopted a targeting structure that ensures only the poorest of the poor (and the most vulnerable) are supported, with both cash, training and mentoring within the wards where the beneficiaries reside.
“Prior to the advent of this Administration, a Social Register had begun being developed under the World Bank-assisted Youth Empowerment and Social Support Operation (YESSO) programme in the Federal Ministry of Finance. That Register, as at 2015, hosted about 67,000 households across 8 States in the country. This register was also managed using basic excel sheets.
“As at today, the NSR is currently in different stages of development across 34 States and the FCT with about 872,700 households representing 3,492,001 individuals captured.
“We have also enrolled 422,992 caregivers in 26 States currently, and they are being paid N10,000 every two months, and supported to ensure they save and become productive, thereby taking ownership of their lives”.
Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), Uwais explained that the initiative seeks to provide collateral and interest-free financial support to businesses at the bottom of the financial pyramid.
She added that funds for the programme are managed by the Bank of Industry (BOI).
“There are currently three GEEP products; 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 or association (even if registered at LGA level), and have a bank account linked to a BVN.
“Where repayment is effected within the six months period, they become eligible to larger amounts as an incentive.
“For TraderMoni, however, trained enumerators go into the market and clustered business areas to register traders who fit the set profile; which include an obvious petty trade, a phone and has a verifiable place of trade (kiosk, table-top, spot, area of hawking). The registered traders are then processed for disbursement of a N10,000 loan. Upon repayment within six months, the beneficiary becomes eligible for a larger amount, at which point s/he must open a bank account, with a BVN. Since inception, BOI has made 1,681,491 loans available to successful applicants in all the States and the FCT. Repayments are made through selected agents, which in itself has provided payment opportunities, across the country”, she stated.