• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Experts affirm credibility of National Social Register

Experts affirm credibility of National Social Register

Experts have affirmed the credibility of the National Social Register (NSR) used by the Buhari-led government for its conditional cash transfer.

Chimezie Anajama, a Nigerian researcher who used the social register of Cross River State for her Master’s thesis, confirmed the credibility of the register to BusinessDay, based on her findings at the time of her field research work in Calabar.

“My Master’s thesis fieldwork which focused on the impact of the household uplifting programme (HUP) on the food security of the urban poor in Calabar confirmed to me that these poor households on the social register exist, at least in Cross River State where I carried out my research,” she said.

“My field research experience confirmed to me that they are the poorest of the poor in that register in Calabar, Cross River State,” she added.

“I used probability sampling in the selection of my treatment group sample size, and part of its benefits is the ability to generalise for a larger population, but I won’t entirely say my work gives full validity to the totality of the national social register since my sampling frame was only HUP beneficiaries in Calabar, Cross River State.”

According to her, the data set of the 2022 Nigeria’s Multidimensional Poverty Index by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics also aligned with that of the National Social Register and their results were similar, saying it confirms that the NSR contains contacts it ought to have.

“I believe that even if there is outdated data, this will be a case of poor data management and maintenance which can be remedied by proper management and constant update and evaluation of the social register,” she said.

“This is the first time that the national government made substantial investments to identify who is poor in Nigeria. Previous social protection programmes such as In Care of the Poor and SURE-P were marred by the absence of data,” Anajama said.

“We need to strengthen, expand, and make the current NSR to be better and truly reflect the information of all poor citizens.

“Address the identified gaps and grievances from citizens about it. This is important because, with that, we can make concrete development plans with strong data evidence without relying on international agencies that use estimations when talking about poverty in Nigeria,” she added.

The credibility of the NSR has been debated, especially since Chukwuma Soludo, the Anambra state governor’s dismissal of it, and the National Economic Council discrediting it as well.

As against these claims, however, the World Bank said the register used by the Buhari administration for its conditional cash transfer is an aggregate of all state social registries from the 36 states of the federation and Federal Capital Territory.

Waziri Adio, ace journalist and policy strategist, has also described the national social register as comprehensive and robust.

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Reacting on Arise TV to Soludo’s remark, Adio said he does not believe Soludo’s position accurately reflects the reality of the register.

“If you listen to him, the impression you are going to get is that the register does not have credibility, is shabby, and is a sham,” he said.

“That is far from the truth. If you look at the process of putting the register together, the structure for gathering information in the register as well as the methodology used for the register, you will find out that this is a register that is comprehensive, robust and the process is participatory and decentralised.”

Speaking on the structure, the policy strategist described the register as an agglomeration of different registers compiled at the state level.

Anajama on the other hand has said she is yet to understand what is meant by lacking credibility in the context used for the social register. “Does credibility lack mean that the beneficiaries are a hoax, like ghost beneficiaries?” Anajama asked.

She answered, saying the process that led to the generation of the people that populated the register is unique, adding that it is very inclusive of communities and other stakeholders, causing community members to play a central key in defining and pointing out who is poor among them.

“Once a consensus is reached on poverty indicators in that community, they are adopted by all, including government officials.”

On how the exercise was conducted to ensure that the real poor households were captured, she said four targeting methods were used, which are geographic targeting, community ranking, community-based targeting, and proxy-mean test.