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Stats: 18921 members, 6338 topics. Date: Wednesday, 15th July 2020 at
|Maryam Uwais: Lawan, Gbajabiamila Got Criticism Of SIP Wrong by Mr. Starz: 7:53 pm On April 8, 2020|
LAWAN, GBAJABIAMILA GOT IT WRONG
Re-2 Trillion Social Investment Programme a Failure, say Lawan, Gbajabiamila
My attention has been drawn to the online report of the Nation newspaper of 7th April 2020, with the above caption. Indeed, several other online publications carried similar stories, alleging that the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs), as supervised under the Office of the Vice President, were a ‘scam’. Given the gravity and implications of the narrative conveyed, as well as the caliber of persons involved, it has become necessary to clarify the issues in the public domain.
That the National Social Investment Programme has gulped over N2 trillion since 2016, when the fund was created. UNTRUE
The monies released for the N-SIPs can be further broken down into 14.03% (2016); 35% in 2017; 43.5% in 2018 and 57.8% (as at Sept 2019) of the N500b in 2016 and N400b appropriated for the subsequent years. It should be noted that for 2017 to 2020, the sum of N100b was appropriated specifically for the National Housing Fund hosted by the Federal Ministry of Finance. These releases covered operational activities and payments to 13,363,680 beneficiaries across all the 4 NSIPs, all of whom can all be verified either through their BVN numbers or their unique numbers generated by the National Social Register, those identities having been generated for the poorest of the poor who do not own bank accounts for sundry reasons.
As at September 2019, the funds had been expended as follows, on the: Job Creation programme (549,500 N-Power graduates and non-graduates and 7 Technology Hubs); National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (in 33 States, 9,963,762 pupils to 107,862 cooks in 54,952 primary schools); the National Cash Transfer Programme (including the development of the National Social Register by the National Social Safety Net Coordination Office) 1,491,296 poor and vulnerable households comprising 6,056,872 individuals in 33 States and 620,947 cash transfer beneficiaries; and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (managed by the Bank of Industry); a total of 2,279,380 TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni beneficiaries.
That as part of the conditions for poor and vulnerable beneficiaries to be engaged, they are made to apply online, through the internet and they require a BVN for payment. UNTRUE
Finally, all the data collated is subjected to a proxy means testing formula to determine those who merit the grants and the accompanying training. Even though each State hosts its own information, all of the data is hosted at the National level as the National Social Register. As at March 31st 2020, the NSR comprised 11,045,537 individuals from 2,644,495 households, collated from 35 States, 453 LGAs, 47,698 communities. Each and every beneficiary has a generated unique number and can be tracked.
Furthermore, payment service providers have been selected in an open procurement process to pay the cash beneficiaries at their locations, as many of them reside in communities where there is a dearth of banking infrastructure. Even though the majority of beneficiaries are not financially literate, the National Social Investment Office (NSIO, then under the Office of the Vice President) commenced the pilot exercise of payment of beneficiaries in 6 States through microfinance banks in September 2019, with a 93% success rate. The exercise was preparatory to full digitization, especially with the impending cashless policy in March 2020.
It is also pertinent to mention that the National Economic Summit Group, (working with Accenture and the Busara Centre for Behavioral Sciences) formed the Policy Intervention Unit for the NSIO. Furthermore, in addition to the World Bank’s strict auditing responsibilities, the African Network of Environmental and Economic Justice has provided over 700 monitors across all the LGAs where the NSIP beneficiaries exist. The link to the Report is to be downloaded at: https://aneej.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Mantra-Field-Report-final-compressed.pdf. Indeed, the ICPC, EFCC & the DSS were also invited to monitor the process to protect the beneficiaries, after they receive the benefits in the field.
It is only in respect of the Job Creation programme that applications are made online. That particular programme was initiated for youth who consist of graduates and non-graduates, as with JAMB candidates who continue to apply for their own admission, online. Indeed, all the LGAs around the country currently have N-Power beneficiaries serving in sundry capacities. The utilization of the BVN for N-Power beneficiary payment is also as a means of identity (since the NIN number can be generated from the BVN) and to facilitate the tracking of payments and further ensure accountability.
The identities of the cash transfer beneficiaries are protected by law (the FOI Act), as the consent of recipients of social grants is a pre-requisite, before disclosure. They can, however, be found and verified through the LGA community facilitators (CTFs) who have been trained to support them by weekly visits to the wards. The names, wards, LGAs, States and phone numbers of the CTFs can be found at http://n-sip.gov.ng/resource-data/, as the data collation continues to grow around the country.
It is, however, on record that all invitations to public hearings and meeting by the NASS were honoured by the myself (as the supervisor of the NSIPs) and the cluster teams, while documents relating to the structure, activities and progress of the NSIPs were routinely shared with them, over the period that the NSIO supervised the NSIPs under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President (OVP). Furthermore, the monthly reports of 3,000 N-Power monitors, spread across the 774 LGAs, are available to both Poverty Alleviation Committees of the NASS.
It should also be noted that the accounting and procurement aspects of the NSIPs were handled by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning on behalf of the NSIO, and not the OVP. All requests for information related thereto were responded to, by that Ministry.
The NSR comprises persons selected by the communities directly, within the constituencies of each of the NASS members. No person has been imported from one community to the other. They have been identified as very poor by the communities in which they reside and may not necessarily be known by the lawmakers. Verification of their identity and status is possible, as has been for all investigative journalists and monitors, through the CTFs.
It should be noted that Nigeria has signed a Financing Agreement with the World Bank, in which the process of identification of beneficiaries was set out. Any departure from the process, which would place at risk the accessibility to the IDA Credit and the recovered funds from the Abacha family.
The tripartite process for identification of cash transfer beneficiaries is in accordance with similar established best practice the world over, as the communities in which the poor reside know who is most in need. The community takes ownership and supports the process, if engaged in the identification of the needy. While not perfect, the process is as near authentic as is possible in the circumstances, as we continue to strive towards improvement. Building the State Social Registers has been a painstaking and continuous collaborative effort, with huge amount of funds expended in striving to achieve the credibility that would be put to waste, if discarded as suggested. Reform is certainly welcome, but not the ‘reform’ that would introduce influence and partisanship into the NSR, thereby making a mockery of the critical data so far collated around the country.
The NSIPs have been handed over to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs since October 2019, but it has become necessary to respond to the unfortunate allegations made at the National Assembly on the 7th of April 2020, which allegations were made in respect of certain aspects of the NSIPs from inception in November 2015 to September 2019. This response is necessary for the purpose of:
This Statement is prepared to set the records straight on certain aspects of the processes, structure and activities of the NSIPs between November 2015 and September 2019 when I supervised the NSIO operations. Having handed over the NSIPs in October 2019, I assume no responsibility for the operations thereafter as the Ministry is well positioned to handle the NSIPs and take decisions thereupon. Thank you.
Maryam Uwais MFR
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