Analysis: How sustainable is FG’s payment to the poorest, vulnerable Nigerians?

by Mark Amaza

14 months after it assumed office, the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari has commenced payment of N5,000 monthly to one million poorest, vulnerable Nigerians.

In a press release from the Office of the Vice President, the FG said the payment, which has started in four states, is a Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) which is part of its Social Investment Programmes, (SIP) which is part of the campaign promise of the APC in the run-up to the 2015 General Elections to create social security nets for Nigerians.

The press release also stated that the four states is part of nine pilot states selected because they have a social register developed in conjunction with the World Bank which identifies the poorest and most vulnerable people through community-based targeting. It also has a validated list of internally-displaced persons in Borno to also receive the payments.

The pilot states are Borno, Kwara, Bauchi (these have started receiving payments), Cross River, Niger, Kogi, Oyo, Ogun and Ekiti States, with the payments handled by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS).

The Conditional Cash Transfer is one of 4 programs under the Social Investment Programmes of the FG, which includes: the N-Power Volunteer Corps designed to hire half a million unemployed graduates which has now engaged 200,000; the National Homegrown School Feeding  Programme now running in three states and t the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, (GEEP),which gives soft loans ranging from N10,000 to 100,000 have been designed for artisans, traders, market women among others. Disbursement for this commenced through the Bank of Industry since November 25, 2016 and it is on an ongoing basis.

The implementation method of the CCT lays to rest worries on how the beneficiaries will be identified and how the payment will be done. Working with the World Bank to build a Social Register for identifying the beneficiaries and the payments done directly to their accounts through the NIBSS increases hope that the right people will benefit from it and reduces chances of funds diversion.

The sum of N300 billion was allocated to the Social Investment Programmes in the 2016 budget. It is yet unsure how much of that amount has been spent, but the Federal Government is asking for N150 billion for the programmes in the 2017 budget proposal. It is very likely that the unspent sums from the previous year will be carried into the new fiscal year.

One added benefit of the CCT is that it will deepen banking penetration as the beneficiaries are likely unbanked, and it will enlarge a database of Nigerian citizens which can be used to increase their access to government services, such as health insurance from the NHIS.

It now remains to see how much impact the scheme will have on the beneficiaries, which we hope will be plentiful.

The Buhari administration can chalk this off as a campaign promise delivered.

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