By James Emejo in Abuja
The Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, Thursday disclosed that a total sum of N470.82 billion had been released out of an annual approved budget of N500 billion and spent on the various National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs) of the federal government between 2016 and 2018.
Giving a breakdown of the expenditure, she said the sum of N79.98 billion was disbursed in 2016, N140 billion in 2017 and N250.84 billion in 2018.
She further stated that a bill seeking to create a legal entity for the NSIPs for the purposes of sustainability had already been drafted and currently receiving attention.
Addressing journalists on the progress of the first phase of the various social investment programmes initiated by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration from 2016-2019 tagged “From Conception to Consolidation”, she added that a five-year road map had also been designed and being considered by relevant policy makers.
The special adviser further disclosed that out of the $322 million Abacha loot released and kept at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), an equivalent of $22.21 million had so far been disbursed for NSIPs.
Uwais further clarified that all ongoing social welfare intervention initiatives, particularly the conditional cash transfer (CCT) to the “poorest of the poor” are free of charge, as it is meant to address their consumption needs as well as encouraging them to save and invest.
However, she said all loans disbursed to petty traders under the scheme are to be repaid.
She noted that the social protection scheme was the initiative of the Buhari administration on assumption of office in 2015, adding that it is meant to improve the lives of all Nigerians irrespective of religion, political affiliation and social class.
The four broad programmes of the social investments included the N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfers (CTC) , National Home-Grown School Feeding and Government Enterprise (NHGSFP) and Empowerment Programmes (GEEP).
The presidential adviser stated that there are currently about 526,000 N-Power youths (both graduate and non-graduate) whose identities have been thoroughly verified and engaged by the programme.
According to her, N-Power is the employability and enhancement programme of the federal government aimed at imbibing the learn-work-entrepreneurship culture in the youth between 18 and 35 for graduates and non-graduates.
Under the NHGSFP, Uwais said there were 103,992 cooks on government payroll, feeding 9,714,342 pupils in 53,715 government primary schools around 31 states, while all the remaining states are at various stages of meeting the criteria laid down for feeding to commence.
“These children are able to eat a balanced diet, towards improving their learning outcomes. Furthermore, the agricultural value chain has been increasing by the day, assuring of a sustainable income for the small holder farmers, especially those that reside around our public schools,” she noted.
In addition, she said under CCT, 422,992 caregivers had currently been enrolled in 26 states, adding that they are being paid N10,000 every two months, and supported to ensure they save and become productive, thereby taking ownership of their lives.
According to her, the GEEP has the responsibility to provide collateral and interest-free financial support to businesses at the bottom of the financial pyramid.
She said funds for the programme are managed by the Bank of Industry (BoI), with three GEEP products namely FarmerMoni, MarketMoni and TraderMoni.
She said: “For the first two, funds between 10,000 to N350,000 are paid into the accounts of the successful applicants who belong to a registered cooperative or association (even if registered at LGA level), and have a bank account linked to a BVN. Where repayment is effected within the six months period, they become eligible to larger amounts as an incentive.
“For TraderMoni, however, trained enumerators go into the market and clustered business areas to register traders who fit the set profile; which include an obvious petty trade, a phone and has a verifiable place of trade (kiosk, table-top, spot, area of hawking). The registered traders are then processed for disbursement of a N10,000 loan.
“Upon repayment within six months, the beneficiary becomes eligible for a larger amount, at which point she/he must open a bank account, with a BVN.”
She added that since inception, BoI had made 1,681,491 loans available to successful applicants in all the states and the FCT while repayments are made through selected agents, which in itself had provided payment opportunities, across the country.
Uwais said: “We need to actively explore the fiscal space for continued funding for the journey ahead. We are optimistic that we can overcome poverty in our lifetime; and improve on our human capital indices. It is only with political will, a concerted effort, the funding and the backing of Nigerians that we can enhance the conditions of our citizens.
“We just need to work closer with the states, the LGAs and communities, and provide the incentives for engagement with the standards and incentives offered by the federal government.
“We must commend the leadership of this country for their vision and sincerity, driven by compassion and empathy for the majority of our citizens. The president and the vice-president have provided uncommon leadership in ensuring that the programmes impact on all Nigerians, irrespective of political affiliation, religion and ethnicity. Without their formidable backing, none of this would have been possible.
“Today, we can proudly boast of driving one of the largest social investment programmes in sub-Saharan Africa. The process has begun; the foundation has been laid. We are committed and shall remain faithful to our mandate of serving our dear country, as we move to the next level.”