James Emejo in Abuja
The National Coordinator, National Social Safety Nets Coordination Office (NASSCO), Mr. Apera Iorwa has said that the federal government’s social protection policy will outlive President Muhammadu Buhari contrary to insinuation that another administration may scrap the initiative.
The policy was part of the current administration’s key pillars of development, which includes the N-Power, Trader-moni as well as the Conditional Cash Transfer schemes.
But, the social protection programme had come under heavy criticism particularly from the opposition political parties which argued that it remained unsustainable in the long term. Critics also felt that the scheme had also been politicised by government to gain under advantage from the electorates.
However, speaking recently during a community mobilisation exercise to raise the social register at L.E.A. Primary School in Dantawu, Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State, the NASSCO Coordinator told THISDAY that the social protection initiative was designed to reach 2020 and beyond and outlive the current administration.
He said: “The vision is to build institutions and structures that ensures that it outlives the current administration.
“Yes, it started during the administration, we are supported by the World Bank, giving us technical support and funded by the World Bank credit that extends to 2020.
“So, ab initio, it was designed beyond that. Now that the current government is coming back by the popular decisions of Nigerians who voted them back into power, we continue.
“By 2020, we hope that those institutions will be established and strengthened in a way that will ensure its sustenance.”
He said the essence of the exercise was to further assure the people that the federal government, working with the state governments was building a social register that would give access to poor and vulnerable families to access social interventions.
Iorwa said: “And these social interventions are many that will be coming either from a government designed point of view like the cash transfer or the skills for job or the public workfare or other philanthropic organisations, donor agencies and international partners like the nutrition project, agricultural project and other projects which target the poor and vulnerable.”
He, further justified the conditional cash transfer to beneficiaries, arguing that it has positive impact on the economy.
The NASSCO coordinator said: “It is not a cash handout, it is a systematic way of moving people out of poverty but also improving our economy and I will give an example.
“There’s experiences globally and in this country, that when you give a family any amount of money, close to 68 per cent of it goes on consumption and this consumption is buying food stuff and all that. So, let’s take an example of rice: so this family goes to the market to buy rice, the retailer has revenue now and so he will pay tax to the local government or community.
“Because there’s more money in the community and more demand, he will go to the wholesaler and buy more rice. Now, this increases the wholesaler’s market and the wholesaler pays the state government money because he is resident in the state.
“The wholesaler will then demand of the manufacturer to produce more bags of rice: so this manufacturer typically had one employer producing five bags of rice but because of the demand from the community now-has increased his production demand to twenty bags: he is going to employ three more people because one person produced five bags of rice, thereby reducing unemployment in the community…”