Wamakko presenting car keys to beneficiaries
The Sokoto State government in partnership with the office of the Millenium Development Goals (MDG) has earmarked N300 million to take 2,300 persons out of poverty in 120 communities in the state. Mohammed Aminu writes
Poverty is a complex and multidimensional in nature and may manifest in economic, social, religious, cultural and environmental settings. Thus, the poor live below a specified minimum income level and are unable to afford the basic needs of life because of poverty. In fact, to a very large extent, it is both a symptom and consequence of under development leading to social ills like violence in the society.
According to the United Nations, more than 83 percent of the Nigerian population lives on less than a dollar a day. In the north, regarded as having the highest concentration of illiterates in the world by a UN 2008 literacy index, poverty is extremely rampant and increasing compare to other parts of the country.
Poverty in states like Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Sokoto is chronic and pervasive. It is generally believed that the current spate of violence being perpetrated by insurgents in some parts of the north could be attributed to poverty and human deprivation. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released its figures last February showing Sokoto State as having the highest incidence of poverty, when compared to other States in the country.
Sokoto State government in its determination to actualise the eight millennium development goals partnered with the MDG’s office in the State towards eradicating extreme hunger and poverty that manifest in material deprivation, limited access to capabilities that could facilitate long and healthy life, good education, standard of living as well as meaningful participation in decisions affecting individual’s life.
It was in view of the high level of poverty in the rural communities, coupled with mass unemployment among the youth, that the present administration of Governor Aliyu Wamakko, had in the last five years empowered over 30, 000 youths and women in all the 23 local government areas of the state. The youths and indigent women were trained on various vocational skills to enable them start up a business and be able to support their families thereby reducing poverty in the society. Similarly, rural women were also trained on poultry and goat rearing through various schemes and also provided with funds to engage in farming. However, despite the laudable initiatives of the government, not much impact was recorded in terms of tackling mass poverty affecting the people.
It was against this backdrop, that the state government devised new methods by collaborating with the MDG office in the state in order to tackle the ugly trend by fashioning out strategies to assist the impoverished members of the society, particularly households that are in dire need of assistance.
Thus, the Communities Conditional Cash Transfer Project Committees were set up in each of the 120 benefiting communities, consisting of a Village Head, Imam, Headmaster, Community health worker, Community Women Leader as well as Community Opinion Leaders. Hence, the committee in each ward is expected to select 20 indigent persons, especially widows, orphans and VVF patients that are out of marriage. In fact, those to be selected must be indigents and incapacitated households with school age children.
The main focus of the project was geared towards addressing poverty by training the 2, 300 beneficiaries cut across the 23 local government areas of the state on mechanized farming, cattle breeding and poultry. Indeed, according to the governor much emphasis would be laid on poultry to encourage massive production of eggs that would eventually be sold by the trainees.
Speaking at the inauguration of the members of the Sokoto Communities Conditional Cash Transfer Project Committees recently, state Commissioner for Local Government and Community Development, Alhaji Faruk Malami Yabo, said the state government in partnership with the Millenium Development Goals’ office earmarked N300 million for combating poverty in 120 communities in 23 local government areas of the state.
The commissioner stated that the MDG office would provide N150 million for the project while the state government would make available N150 million as counterpart fund. According to him, the aim of the programme was to alleviate poverty, especially among the needy, widows and incapacitated households with school age children.
Yabo noted that poverty is a symptom and consequence of under development accounting for many social ills in the society, hence the move by the government to tackle the menace. He emphasized that the Conditional Cash Transfer committees in 120 communities were saddled with the responsibility of selecting the 2,300 persons that would benefit from the programme in 2012.
“The committees in the respective wards were given a period of one week to collate the list of 2,300 beneficiaries for onward submission to the State committee for the commencement of the MDG programme,”he said.
He explained that 20 people would be selected in each ward cut across 23 Councils and would be trained on modern poultry, cattle breeding and mechanised farming. The commissioner stated that the beneficiaries would be trained at the skill vocational centres that were recently established by the state government in the three senatorial zones of the state.
He said after the training, each beneficiary is expected to receive N150,000 to be paid in installments, to start up a business to enable them sustain themselves. Yabo stressed that only indigent persons, widows, orphans and VVF patients out of marital homes would be selected for the programme.
Yabo disclosed that the state government would engage 4600 persons next year while about 50,000 people were expected to be empowered in the long run. “The present administration is determined to provide succour to our people and we hope that the programme if diligently executed will in 10 years go a long way in addressing poverty in the state,”Yabo added.
Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Alhaji Bala Hassan Abubakar, noted that one of the greatest challenges facing the present administration is the issue of poverty particularly in the rural communities. He described the MDG initiative as a welcome development, saying it will go a long way in engaging large number of people in productive ventures, thereby reducing poverty and idleness in the state.
He charged the committees saddled with the responsibility of selecting the beneficiaries to ensure that only those in need and living in squalor should be picked for the programme. The commissioner appealed to those selected to utilise the funds that would be given to them judiciously to engage in gainful venture. Abubakar therefore, called on the people of the State to give maximum support to the programme so as to achieve the desired objectives.
Moreover, the MDG office has put in place mechanism to ensure a credible selection process while it will dispatch its inspectors that to go round to monitor the activities to ensure the compliance after the disbursement of funds to the beneficiaries.
According to the State government those selected for the project would be given N150, 000 to be paid in batches in order to ensure maximum utilisation of the fund. It is expected that the number of beneficiaries would double by next year.
Analysts say the new strategy adopted by the state government in conjunction with the MDG office will go a long way in reducing poverty, if the project is executed without political interference.