Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Traditional rulers and their subjects in Ona-Ara Local Government Area of Oyo State have staged a protest to register their displeasure over the disbursement of Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) to the poorest households in their local government by the Federal Government.
The Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme is a government project aimed at reducing poverty by creating welfare programmes, where government transfers money to people that meet a particular criterion.
The disbursement followed the announcement by the Federal Government last week that CCT would be paid to the poorest households across the country as a palliative measure to cushion the effect of the stay-at-home policy of the government to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) into the wider population.
The protesters specifically demanded the names of the beneficiaries of the CCT in their communities, as their traditional rulers also raised the alarm that they were not carried along to identify the poorest residents in their domains. They wanted to know the modalities used in selecting the beneficiaries.
Oniladuntan of Laduntanland, Oba Adebowale Adeyemi, in Ona Ara Local Government Area, told journalists during a telephone chat on Thursday that: “We don’t know anything about it (CCT) and we are yet to see anyone in our council to confirm to us that they benefited from the money.”
The monarch noted that one of the coordinators for the CCT, Mr Oyekola Oladipo, “said on the radio that we were all carried along before disbursement of the cash. But I want to tell the entire world that we are not aware and none of our people has received money.
“If the Federal Government really meant to support the poor, community leaders shouldn’t be exempted. We know those who are extremely poor in our localities and with their monitoring team, we know how to distribute it. But as they have done it now, they can only tell us those who get it.”
In the same vein, the Baale of Akanran in the same council, Chief Toheeb Alawaye, said the protest was staged on Wednesday because “we don’t know people who received the money in Ona-ara local government. When we heard that Baales are the one giving them the names of the indigent people in our local government, we were surprised because it was a lie. They didn’t give any of our people in this council.
“Our people trooped out to check those who received the money at the Ona-Ara Local Government Guest House when they heard the news. But we could not see anyone at the guest house and that was why they embarked on the protest. We are surprised to hear that money was disbursed.”
Reacting to the allegations, the leader of the Federal Government delegation to the state, Mr Oyekola Oladipo, said that all the traditional leaders were aware of the process of selecting beneficiaries of the palliatives when he participated on a radio programme.
The Conditional Cash Transfer scheme of the Federal Government commenced on Tuesday, April 7th, in Oyo State with the official flag-off of payments by the Commissioner for Women affairs, Alhaja Faosat Sanni, in three local government areas within Ibadan metropolis.
The programme, expected to reach a total of 14,000 households, was launched in Ona Ara, Oluyole and Egbeda local government areas with beneficiaries said to be receiving N20,000 or N30,000 each, depending on the group they belong to in the scheme.
The payment was said to be N5,000 monthly and the current payment covered arrears of four months – January to April. Those that collected N20,000 are caregivers of homes where there are no additional beneficiaries in the household, while those that were given N30,000 are those who qualified for the top-up programme, where additional N5,000 was being given to specific beneficiaries bi-monthly and this category of people are those who fall between the ages 18 to 40.
Oladipo, speaking during the flag-off ceremony, stated that the people paid were not just picked based on political affiliation or any bias.
“The people that are being paid are existing beneficiaries that had been part of the scheme since 2016. They are not new people but those that had been assessed and had been enjoying the Conditional Cash Transfer from 2016. They are not just manufactured because of coronavirus; they have been beneficiaries for long.
“We do not generate register, another agency working for the Federal Government did the assessment of people and population register used long before now and it is the register generated by that agency that we made use of. We only implement, we don’t generate register,” he said.