By Simeon Ogoegbulem
The Federal Government in 2019, established the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to serve as the government’s arrowhead in the fight to tame the monster of poverty in the land.
The ministry headed by Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, has, since it’s creation, worked tirelessly to ensure that government’s ambition to take about 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030 is achieved.
As part of efforts to reduce poverty in the country, the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) was established to serve as the brain box for the realization of government’s poverty alleviation ambitions.
NSIP has four cardinal programmes that focuses on ensuring a more equitable distribution of resources to vulnerable populations, including children, youth and women.
The four programmes under the NSIP are the N-Power, Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme (GEEP), the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme and the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP).
The N-Power as one of the star programmes under the NSIP was put in place tohelp young Nigerians to acquire and develop a life-long skills in order to become active players in the domestic and global markets.
Specifically, N-Power is structured to achieve the following four key objectives, namely;
- To intervene and directly improve the livelihood of a critical mass of young unemployed Nigerians
- To develop a qualitative system for the transfer of employable, entrepreneurial and technical skills
- To create an ecosystem of solutions for ailing public services and government diversification policies and
- To develop and enhance Nigeria’s knowledge economy.
The N-Power has six different aspects in which Nigerian youths can benefit from the programme. These are the Volunteer Teachers (N-Teach), Agriculture Extension Workers (N-Agro), Public Health Workers (N-Health), N-Power Build, N-Power Tech as well as N-Power Creatives.
Flagging off the N-Power Batch C (Stream One), Sadiya Farouq, announced that 510,000 youths will benefit from the programme while another 500,000 youths are expected to benefit from the Batch C (Stream Two).
This will bring to 1.5 million Nigerians who have benefitted from the N-Power programme since its inception as 200,000 and 300, 000 have benefitted from the Batches A and B of N-Power respectively.
Sadiya Farouq described the launch of the Batch C, Stream One as a watershed in the history of the ministry and congratulated the beneficiaries who made it to the final selection stage.
According to the minister, the N-Power Volunteer Corps “are strategically attached to selected places where they will provide technical services while receiving work experience”.
The minister said the Volunteer Teachers under the programme would help improve basic education delivery in the country as “these volunteers would function to support teachers across public primary schools in Nigeria”.
The N-Agro Volunteers would function as intermediaries to help stimulate the agriculture value chain as the beneficiaries under the scheme would be deployed to farms across the country with the core responsibility of supporting farmers with the necessary information and resources needed to help them achieve the best yield and output.
Under the N-Power health programme, beneficiaries are trained to work as support health assistants in public primary healthcare centres. The beneficiaries are also trained to function as communication and advocacy providers to patients and their families at the health centres across the country.
The other aspect of N-Power is the N-Build, where beneficiaries are trained to obtain “competence and capacity in highly demanded technical and vocational skills”. The areas of focus under the scheme are automobile, carpentry and joinery, electrical installation, Tiling, plumbing and piping, masonry as well as hospitality.
In order to ensure that beneficiaries get the best out of the programme, government had made direct investments in the procurement of Test Kits, Safety Gears and other training consumables and “invest directly in selected trainees through providing training and development programmes”.
The Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme (GEEP)
Another tool which the Sadiya Farouq-led ministry has fashioned out under the NSIP to tackle poverty in the country is through the GEEP. In order to give it more bite, the programme was retooled, repackaged and rechristened GEEP 2.0.
According to the ministry, GEEP was originally designed to help the “vulnerable and low income Nigerians who are involved in commercial activity and some sorts of capacity but have never had the opportunity to access loans from traditional lending institutions.”
According to records, GEEP has in the last four years, provided incremental loans between N10,000 and N300,000 to over 2.3 million beneficiaries made up of agricultural workers, traders, enterprising youths and other micro service providers under its flagship programmes of Trader Moni, Market Moni and Farmer Moni.
Under the retooled GEEP2.0, the focus will “be to empower beneficiaries of Trader Moni, by laying emphasis on empowering under privileged and marginalized youths who had no access to education, orphans, people living with disabilities and abandoned out-of-school children”.
Conditional Cash Transfer
Another programme under the NSIP fashioned out by the government in its fight to reduce the incidence of poverty among the vulnerable group in the country Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT).
The CCT programme is focused on responding to deficiencies in capacity and lack of investment in human capital, especially amongst the poorest and most vulnerable citizens.
Human capital experts said the programme is designed to deliver timely and accessible cash transfers to beneficiaries and support development objectives and priorities to improve household consumption. Only last week, government kept to its earlier promise to commence the disbursement of the second phase of the CCT nationwide.
Sadiya Farouq who flagged off the ‘Recommencement of payment to beneficiaries of Household Uplifting Programme -Conditional Cash Transfer (HUP-CCT)’ in Abuja, had commended the World Bank for its support to the ministry since the commencement of the programme in 2016.
Under the CCT, each beneficiary who is expected to receive the sum of N5,000 for one month, would get a lump sum of N20,000 for a period of four months through the use of the Debit Card. It is expected that a total number of 23,893 beneficiaries across three Area Councils of Abaji, Kuje and Kwali in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) will benefit from the programme.
Other beneficiaries from other states of the Federation would soon join their counterparts in FCT to start receiving their stipends as some operational bottlenecks would have to be sorted out.
The National Coordinator of the CCT programme, Hajiya Halima Shehu, had blamed the delay in resumption of the disbursement to the system upgrade being carried out by the government to boost efficient service delivery.
Halima Shehu explained that the upgrades include “tweaking the payment modalities to respond to cashless realities, security concerns and digitization of the payment processes. She stated that “30 per cent of its operations have been digitized and will recommence payment to its beneficiaries next week”.
According to her, the implementation process which was halted became necessary because of a change in administration/management; tweaking of payment modalities to respond to cashless realities, security concerns and digitisation of the payment processes for improvement and enhanced service delivery, ensuring value for money, transparency and accountability; and most importantly the effects of restrictions on mass gathering as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the new arrangement, the “Ministry has directed the NCTO (National Cash Transfer Office), to proceed with a phased migration of the beneficiaries from offline payment systems to open online systems using accounts opened by licensed payment service providers such as commercial banks, microfinance banks, and mobile money operators.
According to her, “with this development, beneficiaries can access or control their accounts through the use of Personal Identification Numbers (PIN),perform all financial transactions like withdrawal, bank transfers and bill payments. For now, only 25 per cent of the beneficiaries are targeted and will gradually extend this to all beneficiaries as far as industry constraints would allow.
“This program focuses on digitisation and financial inclusion. The honourable minister must be commended for her relentless efforts in transforming the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme from the one that brings beneficiaries’ stipends through virtual accounts to the one that is now transactional with features for savings, withdrawals and transfer of funds. This will enable the beneficiaries to have sustainable transactional accounts to meet the current economic realities,” Shehu said.
According to the Minister, CCT was “designed and developed as a safety nets programme for Nigeria under a broad-based platform of the National Social Safety Nets Project (NASSP).! Experts said that one important component of
The last but not the least plank of the NSIP in the fight against poverty is the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP).
The NHGSFP offers one free nutrient rich meal a day to public school pupils in primary one-three across 34 states and the FCT. Kwara and Bayelsa states are not participating in the programme.
The project is the Household Uplifting-Conditional Cash Transfer (HUP-CCT) administered under a National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO) to deliver financial support to poor and vulnerable households nationwide.
Continuing, the minister said, “To enhance the effectiveness of the project and ensure fairness, a National Social Safety Net Coordinating Office (NASSCO) was also established under the NASSP to transparently deploy an innovative strategy to dynamically capture data on all poor and vulnerable households in the country into a well-managed National Social Register (NSR).
This register is built using a community base targeting mechanism where the community members themselves determine the poor of the poor and most vulnerable households amongst themselves.
“HUP-CCT beneficiaries are then mined from this database using a standardised eligibility criterion and granted with a monthly stipend to achieve the following key objectives: improved household consumption; increase in the utilisation of health and nutrition services; improve school enrolment and attendance; improve environmental sanitation and management; improve asset and financial acquisition and ensure that beneficiaries are engaged in sustainable livelihood activities. With the flag-off today, payments will recommence in all participating States in the country.”
National Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
The key objectives of the program are as follows
- To improve school enrolment and school attendance, thus reducing the number of out of school children
- To improve nutritional status of benefitting pupils and
- To boost local economy and facilitate job creation through the activities of small holder farmers, cooks and aggregators through increase in demand for their output.
Under the programme, over 9.1million pupils have been enrolled into schools with 26 states out of the 34 participating states providing deworming services in schools, over 100,000 small farmers are participating in the programme while over 103,000 cooks are engaged in the programme.
The multiplier effect of the NHGSFP since its inception include improved school enrolment and attendance, prevention of malnutrition, community development, improved income and increased food holder production as well as employment generation and increased financial inclusion.
Despite some challenges, no doubt, government at the federal level is attacking poverty in a structured and sustainable manner.
According to the National coordinator of NSIP, Dr Umar Bindir, the federal government is working towards institutionalizing the fight against poverty in order to have a streamlined approach to poverty alleviation in the country.
Bindir said government is working to ensure that the fight against poverty is institutionalized rather than the current approach of each administration having its own poverty eradication strategy.
He disclosed that government plans to reduce the poverty rate to a single digit before the end of next year.He blamed the ugly situation to the fight against poverty being reduced to mere programmes which fizzle out at the end of each administration.
According to him, the past interventions made by previous administrations include Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP), under late Gen. Sani Abacha, National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) under Good luck Jonathan.
By institutionalizing the fight against poverty, the government has shown uncommon courage and determination to reduce the incidence of poverty in the country. Already, the lives of most of the beneficiaries have started taking a trajectory for the better.
Though the amounts being disbursed may look small, but the truth remains that it has started transforming the lives of the beneficiaries. It is hoped that with the structures that have been put in place, poverty would be given a bloody nose within the shortest possible time.