The Federal Government of Nigeria is currently in the process of reviewing and expanding the National Social Register as part of its efforts to include pensioners and ex-servicemen in the Conditional Cash Transfer scheme. Additionally, they are removing beneficiaries who have risen above the poverty line. It’s important to note that beneficiaries without National Identification Numbers (NIN) and Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) will also be disqualified from the program.
In a significant shift, payments will now be made directly to beneficiaries by the Central Bank of Nigeria, eliminating the need for intermediaries or consultants. The rollout of the first batch of bulk payments is scheduled to commence next week, targeting approximately five million households.
The Conditional Cash Transfer scheme is an integral component of the National Social Investment Programme established by the Federal Government. Its overarching goal is to transform the lives of millions of Nigerians living in extreme poverty, elevate their living standards, and bolster the country’s economy.
In a notable event commemorating the 2023 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty in Abuja, President Bola Tinubu launched the disbursement of N25,000 to 15 million households over a period of three months. This initiative aims to serve as a social safety net intervention to counteract the impact of recent fuel subsidy removal and make strides in eradicating poverty throughout the nation.
Rasheed Olanrewaju, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, provided further insights into this initiative. He clarified that the cash transfer scheme has been extensively reviewed and expanded. When asked about the usage of the old register from the previous administration, Olanrewaju affirmed that they are employing a verified expanded register that encompasses pensioners, veterans, and other vulnerable individuals who were not included previously.
Jamaldeen Kabir, the National Communications Manager of the National Social Investment Programme Agency, confirmed that beneficiaries who have risen above the poverty line are being removed from the register. He mentioned, “The expansion will also include the wives of fallen heroes and pensioners.”
As for the timeline, Olanrewaju noted that while bulk payments would commence next week, some verified beneficiaries have already started receiving payment alerts. He mentioned, “The cash transfer (scheme) has been launched, and once a household is verified, they get paid. The batches begin this month, next week to be precise.”
To ensure the integrity and credibility of the program, measures such as the use of NIN and BVN have been put in place to minimize fraudulent activities. Olanrewaju emphasized that there are no intermediaries involved in the payment process, and the beneficiaries receive funds directly from the CBN.
Regarding the number of ineligible or deceased recipients, Olanrewaju indicated that numerous names have been removed from the register following the verification process. He stated, “The final figure will be out in weeks; it may run into millions. Some are dead; some are no longer in that category (of the poor) and some could not be identified at locations given.”
The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation underscored that the Federal Government’s commitment to eradicating poverty aligns with the President’s Renewed Hope Agenda. This agenda prioritizes poverty eradication, food security, economic growth, and job creation. Various steps have been taken, including the expansion of the National Social Register, partnering with the World Bank Group, and implementing conditional cash transfers and business grants.
Moreover, substantial investments have been made to improve food security, transportation, and support small and medium enterprises. The release of grains, distribution of fertilizers, and the provision of business grants and loans are some of the initiatives that aim to uplift vulnerable individuals and boost the nation’s economy.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, stressed the importance of collective support from stakeholders, including the private sector, development partners, and other nations, in the mission to eliminate poverty. She explained that conditional cash transfers are a proven way to alleviate poverty by providing financial support to households to start micro and small enterprises, ensure basic healthcare and food, and keep children in school.
In conclusion, the Federal Government’s comprehensive efforts to expand and enhance the Conditional Cash Transfer scheme represent a significant step toward reducing poverty in Nigeria and creating a brighter future for millions of its citizens.