As the Federal Government begins the conditional cash transfer as a palliative for COVID-19, the initiative has been greeted with condemnation and anger barely three days after they started giving out 20,000 covering March to June to vulnerable Nigerians.
The wave of the deadly virus has been felt in Nigeria from the first case to the rising number of cases to over a hundred, forcing States across the country to shut their borders.
This influenced the decision of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, to enforce a lockdown in Lagos Abuja and Ogun. In his speech, The President also reeled out palliative to cushion the effect of the lockdown on people, the economy and other sectors.
The President in his speech said…
“Furthermore, although schools are closed, I have instructed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development to work with State Governments in developing a strategy on how to sustain the school feeding program during this period without compromising our social distancing policies. The Minister will be contacting the affected States and agree on detailed next steps.
Furthermore, I have directed that a three-month repayment moratorium for all TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans be implemented with immediate effect.
I have also directed that a similar moratorium be given to all Federal Government funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export-Import Bank.
For on-lending facilities using capital from international and multilateral development partners, I have directed our development financial institutions to engage these development partners and negotiate concessions to ease the pains of the borrowers.
For the most vulnerable in our society, I have directed that the conditional cash transfers for the next two months be paid immediately. Our Internally displaced persons will also receive two months of food rations in the coming weeks.
We also call on all Nigerians to take personal responsibility to support those who are vulnerable within their communities, helping them with whatever they may need”
Some Nigerians commended the President for the plans he reeled out. Just as the Federal Government through the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster management, and Social Development Sadiya Umar Farouq commenced payment of N20, 000 each to five thousand beneficiaries of its Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program in the Kwali area of the Federal Capital Territory
The Minister in her words said:
“As we know, the CCT is for poor and vulnerable households in the country. “Beneficiaries are entitled to N5, 000 every month; however, the payment of N20, 000 now to each beneficiary is for four mouths. It is going to happen all over the country, but we are starting with FCT, Lagos and Ogun. These are the frontline states. Other states will follow. With the current pandemic and circumstances on ground, this amount will go a long way to support the families in their daily lives. “Today, we are giving out N20, 000 each to about 190 beneficiaries in Kwali Area Councils. The total beneficiaries in FCT are 5, 000”
Although the Minister said the beneficiaries were chosen without any form of bias, adding that political party affiliation was never a criterion for the selection of beneficiaries.
The Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP has expressed displeasure through a statement issued by its spokesperson, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere.
“The CUPP condemns the method the Federal Government has adopted to share stipends to a few people as a palliative, it is a joke, child’s play, orchestrated window dressing, a political trick and a bogus attempt to loot scarce resources in these very trying times.
With an estimated 10.6million people in the government social register, and giving the President’s directive that each person should get 2 month’s payment, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development began sharing cash to the people. How many thousands of poor people will this woman use her hand to share money in such a way to achieve the essence of reaching out to the most vulnerable? Does she expect to tell Nigerians that she shared over N200, 000,000,000:00 (Two Hundred Billion Naira) only by cash? Can the Federal Government convince the citizens that this money got to the real poorest of the poor in the communities? Was this money not shared to political party members as some of those seen in videos and photos were expensively dressed and could not have qualified as the very vulnerable group Was there any mechanism of monitoring these officials who the government has given N200, 000,000,000:00 cash or did they have direct instructions on the number of people to pay and the amount to remit to the pockets of the individuals in the Presidential Villa?”
The opposition Coalition says there cannot be the accountability with the ministers’ method of disbursing funds to the poorest of the poor.
“How is she selecting those she is giving this cash? So if she shares money to a few hundred people who will reach the remaining millions that require this palliative? How can Federal Government be directly involved in sharing money when we have Local Government Areas, Traditional Rulers and Town Unions that can help reach the poorest of poor assuming the government needs to have a sustainable and effective way of distributing the cash? This is not the palliative that can reduce tension and help people who are sitting at home to have food”
CUPP believes that the sharing formula by the Federal government is a joke, child’s play and another mundane political trick and window dressing that will aide stealing and un-accountability. It is capable of igniting the real poorest of the poor to action and could be a recipe for social unrest and hunger-induced violence.
Also, the Vice President of the National Youth Council North Central Akoshile Mukhtar opined that
“The Government does not have regard for the youths. There is a Presidential committee on COVID19; no young person is in that committee. They have nothing for young people. We do not even know where they have started from, we do not know where there are going from, because. You can imagine a minister of the Federal Government in a local Government to make some conditional cash transfer, no representatives, young people were not there on the Government officials. So when you want to do a transparent program you have to go with the transparent mind”
The spokesperson of the FCT Indigenes Yunusa Ahmadu Yusuf insists there needs to be an independent check to ensure that the vulnerable are captured.
“Not all that registered in the INEC database are still in the FCT today because so many people have travelled after the Presidential broadcast. People were going back to their home towns. The minister must ensure that the people who are still in the FCT obeying the stay at home order, are the ones who are to be giving these materials, not that they will go and use the INEC database as the Minister earlier said in his address”
Only time will tell if the palliative will go a long way to cushion the effect of the lock-down and we are just five (5) days into the initial 14 days announced by the president…