Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Presidency sunday said that it used the World Bank’s Community Based Targeting (CBT) model, established two years ago, to select the beneficiaries of its N5000 monthly stipends to the poorest Nigerians.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, in a statement in Abuja said the CBT model of the World Bank had been used two years ago to identify most of the beneficiaries in the pilot states.
He said the World Bank was also an active agent in the selection process, explaining, however, that the data collected belonged to Nigeria.
Akande gave the names of the nine pilot states where the programme had started as Bauchi, Borno, Cross Rivers, Ekiti, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Osun and Oyo and clarified that reference to Ogun, instead of Osun-among the pilot states- in his last press statement on the issue was an error.
He explained that in eight of the nine pilot states, the selection process had taken place at least two years ago under a programme supported by the World Bank in an agreement entered into directly with the state governments.
He said the ninth state, Borno, was added because of the situation of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
According to him, the process of selecting beneficiaries is fair and transparent and without mischief.
He said: “There is no way you can describe this process as partisan. The president is president of the entire country and the Social Intervention Programmes are for all Nigerians as the case may be.”
In addition to the nine pilot States, and with the release of funds for the programmes, the CBT model has now commenced in other states.
He said: “There is no way anyone can describe the selection of the beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) as partisan as the beneficiaries from eight of the nine pilot states were picked even before this administration came into office.
“First, the officials at federal level, working with the state officials, identify the poorest Local Government Areas, using an existing poverty map for the state, then the LG officials identify the poorest communities in the LGAs and we send our teams there.
“The first thing our team does after selection of the LGAs is to select members of the NOA, the LGA and community officials to form the CBT team. Then we train the selected officials on how to conduct focus group discussions at community level. These focus groups comprise of women, men, youths, as the community determines.
“After training them, the CBT teams now go to each of their communities to sensitize the leaders, including traditional rulers, on the CBT process and the necessity for objectivity and openness in the process. At that meeting, they firm up a date to convene a community meeting at a designated location within the community.
“On the set date, discussions are held in the local languages, using terminologies that resonate in that community. The CBT team will explain to the community the purpose of the gathering, i.e. to determine the parameters of poverty upon which persons can be described as poor and vulnerable within the context of that community.”
He said the CBT teams would then engage each group (men, women and youths) in the conversation around the criteria and parameters for determining the poorest people.
He explained further that the groups would then be encouraged to identify those households that fell within the criteria that the community itself determined, and told that the information was required for government’s planning purposes.
He said various poverty criteria had been thrown up so far, explaining that in some cases, people had said it was the number of times they ate, the number of times the fumes of firewood went up from the house, the size of farmland or type of crops grown.
After the discussions, Akande said the groups would resume in plenary and report back the criteria and parameters discussed.
The CBT team, according to him, would then compile the criteria and parameters and ask each group to return to their break-out sessions and begin to identify the households in the community that had been identified as fitting the criteria and parameters.
“Once that is done at the groups, everybody comes together again with names compiled by each group. Now, when the same name is featured in at least two of the three groups, it is deemed qualified to be listed on the Social Register,” he added.
He said that at that stage, bank accounts were opened for each of the caregivers by capturing the biometric data of households identified as among the poorest and vulnerable.
He said states had been updated on the requirements for the engagement by the federal team, adding that once the lists from sates were enumerated, their details were uploaded onto a server at the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, NIBSS, which hosts the electronic platform that validates all the payments of the FG for the SIPs.
He said banks had been informed that payments must be at community level, so those banks engaged for the pilot stage had in turn engaged several payment agents, to ensure cash-out to the beneficiaries in their places of residence.