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FG’s social investment scheme records 20.5m beneficiaries in 3 years

… less than N300bn spent so far - Uwais

Mariam Uwais
Senior special assistant (SSA) in the office of the President on the Nigeria Social Investment Programme (NSIP), Mariam Uwais, says the programme has recorded over 11.5 million direct beneficiaries, as well as 9 million indirect beneficiaries since it commencement last few years.
Uwais, who coordinates the nationwide programme of the government on social investment, also revealed that the current administration had spent about N300 billion so far in its social investment programme in specific areas the government was focusing on in the scheme.
The SSA gave the information during an oversight visit of the ‎joint Senate and House of representative committees on Poverty Alleviation on Tuesday, in Abuja.
According to Uwais, “Currently,‎ we have over 700,000 people on our National Social Register. The people we are paying are about 300,000 because what we do is that when we go to communities for identification, we take down their data for planning. We also take different datas that help us identify the challenges that the families have.
“We have that information on a device, and that device is on a PMT formula that ranks them from the poorest to the least poor. It is the least poor on the social register that we pay, we don’t pay everyone.”
She explained further that the social register could not be changed because it was the community that had identified those people, and it was our guide but would be cleaned up subsequently to clean up those that had left the poverty ladder.
In the communities, she stated, “We have focused and discussion groups in communities, and we use the PMT to sort those who deserve to be paid. In Kwara State, the women we have been paying have been able to save N15 million revolving fund for themselves for their small-scale businesses.”
Giving updates on school feeding, she said, “Right now, we are in 30 states for our school feeding programme. In the states school feeding programme, we work with the states Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to ensure we work closely with them. We are currently in 56,000 schools across the country. The school feeding value chain is essentially helping us. For instance, a million eggs are required weekly to cover 30 states in the country.”
On the skills for job component training of non-graduates, she said, “We are at the moment working with the Nigerian Agricultural Risk Incentive for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL)‎ to see how they could take our 200,000 trainees. We are working out different options that they could work with to sustain their work.”
‎Explaining further, she said, “We have their BVN account numbers and we are able to pay them directly regarding the conditional cash transfer. We also have 9 million secondary beneficiaries, who are mainly in the households, and the caregivers that we pay cash transfers; the children are also going back to school. The cooks being empowered, setting up catering businesses. We also have the N-Power beneficiaries.”
According to Uwais, “We operate under a structure chaired by the Vice President, comprising of a steering committee, which consists of the Ministry of Education, Agriculture, Finance, Health, Labour, Youths, Information, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment alongside the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, which houses the Secretariat.‎”
On the budget provisions, she said, “We are working very hard to leverage on a lot of the agencies at federal level, because we don’t have our full funding, as we only get 25% of our full funding since we began. We have had to find a way of being cost effective in our spending.”
In interior areas where we don’t have infrastructure, she said, “We work with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s licensed agent to ensure cash transfer gets to these set of people our they passed our verification, and we pay them 5000 naira a month. Most notably, all the agents we are working with are using ‘back end’ technology to ensure a seamless tracking by our own office, and ensure who collects the money, and transparent.
“This is our way of addressing financial and social inclusion.We cannot wait for infrastructure to begin addressing poverty concerns. We have observed so many areas where the school is too far from the people, and we are discussing with the governors on that. We would be making presentation to the Governors’ Forum soon in their meeting.
“We are working with the federal Ministry of Health, Institute of International Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in designing menu and nutritional content commensurate to the age of those kids we are feeding in school.”
On support with agencies of the government, she said, “We are working with Nigeria Automotive Design and Development Council, NADDC, Nigerian council of Engineers, Institute of hospitality because we are sending our non graduates into their skill centres.
“We have the World Bank helping us in the traditional cash transfer scheme, the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), we have Action Aid that has helped us select independent monitors.”

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