From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Worried by the high rate of racketeering that has marred the successful implementation of the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs), 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 N-Power, National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), Conditional Cash Transfer Programme (CCT), and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
The schem aligns with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Some of the monitors were drawn from the anti-graft agencies like 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.
Apart from ensuring that the over 13 million current beneficiaries drawn from the 36 States get their due share, the government, through the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, said transparency was geared towards putting to rest accusations that the Buhari administration is not working.
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, 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 unrest of 2020, many warehouses stored with COVID-19 food aid items like rice, noodles, sugar and bags of salt that were meant to be distributed to citizens were looted by rioters.
So far, Ebonyi State has 53 personnel, Cross River State has 49, while Akwa Ibom has 59 independent monitors.
Speaking recently in Enugu State during the training, the minister said that 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, she 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.
‘So, the ministry was created to ensuring that poverty is entirely eliminated. Although, it may not totally eradicated.
‘Also, for this programme there are a lot going on as we have received a lot of report and we felt that for any effective implementation, there should an evaluation.
‘So, these independent monitors are to follow us and ensure that the service is being delivered to be beneficiaries and that nobody is left behind.
‘And, like the honourable mentioned in her speech, safeguards has equally been put in place that even those who are monitoring are equally being monitored to the extend 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.’
During the official flag-off the N-Creative programme, 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 (FMHADMSD) and designed to achieve the National objectives of poverty reduction and job creation.
‘The N-Power programme is key to helping young Nigerians acquire and develop life-long skills that ensure they become solution providers and entrepreneurs in their communities.
‘N-Power has three core segments: N-Power Volunteer Corps – the Graduate programme, N-Power Build – Non graduate programme and N-Power Knowledge – Which is a non-graduate programme and embodies the N-Tech Hardware, N-Tech Software and the N-Creative training programme.
‘The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development is committed to ensuring that the strategic objectives of all the social intervention programs are achieved. Therefore, in order to maintain the highest level of attendance and discipline by our N-Power Creative trainees, training accommodation is compulsory.’
She added that ‘during the camp training, each trainee is entitled to a feeding allowance of N900 per beneficiary per day. Each trainee is also entitled to Ten Thousand Naira (N10,000) monthly stipends for a period of one year.
‘In addition, a laptop is provided as a training tool, procured to enable trainees maximise the skills learnt during their stay in the camp and to start off with their vocation.”
On his part, Enugu 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’s 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.
While in Awka, the Anambra State capital, over 140 independent monitors were trained
The state’s 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 emphasise on N-POWER, commending the verification processes and the monitoring initiative.
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.