From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Worried by the high rate of racketeering that has marred the successful implementation of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), the Federal Government recently declared war on saboteurs by recruiting and training over 5,000 independent monitors across the country to address the problems.
The NSIP was created by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 with the aim of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years through a number of social interventions, namely, the job creation programme – N-Power, National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), Conditional Cash Transfer Programme (CCT) and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
In addition, it is also in line with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Some of the monitors were drawn from the anti-graft agencies, including the police, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), National Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Directorate Security Services (DSS), the Customs and civil society organizations.
Aside from ensuring that the over 13 million current beneficiaries drawn from the 36 states get their due share, government, through the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, said transparency was geared towards putting to rest plethora of insinuations and accusations that the Buhari administration is not working.
Already, the National Social Register, in which some of the beneficiaries were gleaned from for the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), has captured over 26,788,516 extremely poor and vulnerable Nigerians from 6,345,869, in 77,422 communities, 7,892 wards and 678 local governments across the 36 states.
Farouq, who drew the battle line recently in the South East and South-South regions, simultaneously, while declaring the exercise open, added that government would apprehend and decisively deal with perpetrators following the caliber of personnel involved.
During the #EndSARS protest, many warehouses stored with COVID-19 palliatives like rice, noodles, sugar and salt that were meant to be distributed to citizens were looted by protesters.
So far, Ebonyi State has 53 personnel, Cross River State has 49, while Akwa Ibom State has 59 independent monitors.
Speaking recently in Enugu State during the training, she said, after the exercise, personnel would be deployed to the grassroots where the poorest of the poor reside to ensure that they are not cheated.
Represented by a deputy director in the ministry, Charles Anaelo, the minster said: “Today, we are training independent monitors that will monitor the programme at the community level.
“The independent monitors will be assigned to monitor programme beneficiaries within their locality in schools, households, and market clusters with the focus of ensuring that the primary objectives of these programmes are achieved.
“You will be closely supervised by officials of the ministry and your activities will also be monitored by the ministry and other stakeholders at the state level.
“We are also working with security agencies like the DSS, the EFCC and the ICPC to monitor these programmes. If you are found engaging in any form of malpractice or fraud, you will be handed over to them for investigation and prosecution.”
She added that the ministry was created towards ensuring that poverty is entirely eliminated though it may not be totally eradicated.
“These independent monitors are to follow us and ensure that the service is being delivered to the beneficiaries and that nobody is left behind.
“And like the honourable mentioned in her speech, safeguard has equally been put in place that even those who are monitoring are equally being monitored to the extent that if there is any report coming from them, they will be handed over to the appropriate agencies for investigation and prosecution.
“So, you can see how government is very serious about it,” she said.
On his part, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi said his administration has continued to show commitment to ensure that the people of the state fully benefitted from the social interventions.
Represented by the state NSIPs focal person, Dr. Innocent Ogbonna, the governor noted that Enugu was one of the first five states that accepted the social investment programmes of the Federal Government, adding that the state quickly keyed in and started benefitting in all of them.
In Awka, the Anambra State capital, over 140 independent monitors were trained.
The state focal person, Chinwe Nnwachukwu, who was represented by Bede Okoli, appreciated the ministry for the benefits of the various NSIP programmes in the state, with particular emphasis on N-POWER, commending the verification processes and the monitoring initiative.
Also, a Director in the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Barr. Charles Nwoji, commended the initiative (independent monitors) and reiterated the commitment of NOA in supporting the efforts of the ministry’s NSIPs.
During the official kickoff of the N-Creative programme and the impact of the scheme, the minister had disclosed that “a total of 544,949 N-Power beneficiaries both graduate and non- graduate have benefitted from the various components of the programme. With the addition of the N-Creative, the number of N-Power beneficiaries have increased to 546,449.
“N-Creative is focused on equipping youths with relevant skills and certification to become competent workers, innovators and entrepreneurs prepared for both the domestic and global digital and creative industries.
“The training will enable beneficiaries learn the necessary animation skills sought in storytelling, illustration/ graphic design, post production, script writing and voice acting. At conclusion, the training will up skill 3,000 young Nigerians as developers of world – class animated content for local and global consumption.
“The N-Power programme is a critical part of the National Social Investment Programmes domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and designed to achieve the national objectives of poverty reduction and job creation.”