The Federal Government established the National Social Investments Programmes (NSIP) in 2016 to tackle poverty and hunger across the country. NSIP focuses on ensuring a more equitable distribution of resources to vulnerable populations, including children, youth and women.
One of such programmes is the National Cash Transfer (NCT) programme of the Federal Government, which is a social safety net that gives N5,000 monthly to the poorest and most vulnerable in the society paid as a collective sum of N10,000 every two months. An additional N5,000 is given monthly to households with pregnant women, nursing mothers, or girl children of school age. It directly supports those within the lowest poverty bracket by improving nutrition, increasing household consumption and supporting the development of human capital through cash benefits to various categories of the poor and vulnerable.
The support is conditioned on fulfilling soft and hard co-responsibilities that enable recipients improve their standard of living. This programme has gone a long way to help many poor families cater for their basic needs. If you go around the over twenty-six States of the Federation where the NCT programme is present, testimonies abound of the impact this programme has made in the lives of several families. The projection is to reach one million households with 80 beneficiaries coming from each ward of the 774 Local Government Areas of the country but presently about 400,000 households have been reached, and being paid the sum of N5, 000 monthly. The households are also trained with the aim of building their capacity to be able to do business. They get both financial and technical support for starting their small business; for the essence of the programme is to assist them to establish a livelihood that would facilitate their graduation from the programme.
Watch the explainer video on investing in the vulnerable here:
The programme is funded from the N500 billion Social Investment Programmes captured in the Federal Government budget since 2016. The success of the Social Investment Programmes is particularly laudable because despite the limited budgetary releases, the impact is still widely felt in the Nation. While N500 Billion was appropriated in each of the 2016 and 2017 budgets respectively, including the N100 Billion for the Family Housing Fund in the 2017 budget, only about N220 Billion has so far been released since the commencement of the programme. All states are eligible to participate in the programme upon fulfilling some conditions which include providing the programme with an office, staff and equipment while the Federal Government trains the personnel on the implementation of the programme.
“I have a husband and five children. The money has been helpful to us because it has enabled us to pay our children’s school fees and feed them properly. I buy fertilizer to put on the farm and buy things to sell. The programme is good because it helps less-privileged people like me.” Rehilla Macham, NCT Beneficiary, Tarsha Maikarfi, Plateau state
Watch testimonial of beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme here:
The beneficiaries of the cash transfer programme are households contained in the National Social Register which is developed by the National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO) in collaboration with and support from the World Bank. This register is built employing three targeted mechanisms to identify poor and vulnerable people across the country. The beneficiaries are selected from the National Social Register.
The community-based targeting team at the Local Government level move from one community to another to identify the poorest set of Nigerians through the help of members of those communities. All political wards in every state would have the same number of beneficiaries. The beneficiaries will be on it for three years; after which their conditions would be reviewed. To ensure transparency and accountability in the scheme, it is being implemented in a participatory manner where community members are involved along with the Local, State and Federal Government. There are monitoring organisations including the Civil Society Organisations and the World Bank. The monitoring movement has an electronic audit trail, trailing the money as it moves from the CBN to the beneficiaries.
“I thank God, and I am grateful to those who put this Programme together most especially the Federal Government. Since I became a beneficiary of this programme, I have made tremendous progress.” - Kehinde Awodele, NCT Beneficiary, Oyo state
The recently recovered $332 million Sani Abacha loot would go into the Programme. This is an outcome of the process that enabled the repatriation of the funds in the first place. The Court Order in Switzerland that commenced the repatriation process was made conditional on the involvement of the World Bank in supervising the use of the funds to prevent their mismanagement and re-looting, as has been the case in the past. To enable the mandatory involvement of the World Bank in the process, the Bank indicated that the money be used in one of its subsisting programmes in Nigeria to enable it to use its existing monitoring and broader institutional resources to monitor the use of the funds. Since the Bank was already collaborating with the Federal Government in a social investment programme running in the country, the decision was taken to channel the funds to the cash transfer programme. This would ensure that the funds are used for the benefit of the people of Nigeria. This would enable the Bank make use of its existing resources to monitor the disbursement of the funds to the appropriate recipients.
Social safety-net programmes like National Cash Transfers have proven to raise people out of poverty and positively impact the lives of poor people in other parts of the world. It is also not difficult to think of worse ways the returned Abacha loot could have been spent given how the previous recoveries were re-looted by previous governments.
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