By Laraba MUREY
Two years after its inception, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, has remained in the consciousness of Nigerians, performing and delivering on its schemes.
Strategically created by President Muhmmadu Buhari to remedy the shortcomings of humanitarian disasters and social inclusion, its activities are aimed at alleviating sufferings of the estimated 93.7 million poor Nigerians.
The National Social Investment Programmes, NSIP, was established in 2016 by the president who announced his commitment of lifting 100 million Nigerian citizens out of poverty in 10 years through targeted interventions of job creation programme N-power, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEEP, Cash Transfer, CCT, programme and Home Grown School Feeding Programme, NHGSF, formerly chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
“If India can lift 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016, Nigeria can surely lift 100 million out of poverty in 10 years. Fortunately, we have already started but we need to unlock the challenges of slow implementation, inappropriate targeting and absence of adequate resources.
“Our ongoing social intervention programs continue to target these vulnerable groups through the ongoing school feeding program, government economic empowerment program, … job creation program loans for traders and artisans, conditional cash transfers to the poorest families,” Buhari said.
Between the transfer of the social welfare schemes under the ministry and promises made by the Federal Government to tackle the menace of poverty, the minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq, has come under constant condemnation over her operations, despite efforts in trying to address issues of poverty reduction.
However, Farouq has continued to receive commendations from officials like the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons, NCFRMI, Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim, stating that her leadership has greatly helped in managing the challenges arising from the sprawling number of persons displaced by insurgency, communal clashes, banditry, and natural disasters.
And the president has continued to reiterate his commitment to lifting millions out of poverty through the Humanitarian Ministry and its agencies. Still, economic experts like Nonso Obikili say an imbalance in economic growth and population growth is a major factor contributing to Nigeria’s rise in poverty.
“On a fundamental level, the economy is not growing fast enough, economic growth is still below 2 percent and population growth is about 2.8 percent, so that means on average, Nigerians are getting poorer and poorer. But even if you dig deeper, even when the economy was growing, the growth wasn’t that inclusive so it was a growth that was captured by a very small fraction of the country, with most of Nigeria remaining in stagnation,” Obikili said.
Despite successes recorded in implementing the NSIP with about 12 million beneficiaries across the interventions; 1.6 million households currently receiving monthly stipend of N5000 under the CCT, 9,196.823 pupils benefiting in NHGSFP in the 36 States and additional 1 million jobs created in the youth N-Power programme, critics say Farouq has failed in executing her responsibilities and even called for her replacement.
The national president of the 500,000 exited N-power volunteers, Bashiir Gobir, said “We want Sadiya Farouk to be queried as a matter of urgency, and that is why we are mobilising for the protest across the nation, since she and other officials in her ministry have refused to honour our demands.”
Undeterred by naysayers, Farouq has remained committed in ensuring social interventions under her leadership. Having successfully enrolled and disengaged the Batch A and B N-Power beneficiaries, the minister went on to begin the N-Power Batch C programme for one million beneficiaries across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
“Based on this approval, the portal was again opened in June 2020, and over 6 million new applications were received. 1,000,000 beneficiaries will be mined from this as the N-Power Batch C. The batch C is divided into 2 streams. Stream C1 of 510,000 beneficiaries and stream C2 for 490,000 beneficiaries. Under the Batch C1, a total of 450,000 have been selected to benefit under the graduate component, while 60,000 beneficiaries will be non-graduate beneficiaries. Today, we are here to flag-off the N-Power Batch C1,” she said.
In a bid to ensure that challenges of the previous batches A and B do not reoccur, the minister announced that some innovations have been introduced into the N-Power selection and payment processes such as the creation of the National Social Investment Management Systems, NASIMS, partnership with key MDAs including the NYSC, the UBEC, the NPHCDA, the NOA to mention, but a few, with which the ministry is leveraging to effectively implement its interventions.
Furthermore, changing its approach from 2016 to 2019, Farouq explained that GEEP was restructured to effectively grant easy access to collecting, paying back of interest free loans and to accommodate a larger group of vulnerable persons. At launch of the GEEP 2.0 programme in Abuja, she further disclosed that 12 million households have been impacted since its beginning.
“The GEEP programme is a veritable tool designed to end poverty in many ways. In other words, GEEP targets the unbanked poor and vulnerable but skilled population that have always been left out on credit delivery programmes and is directed at providing soft and affordable loans to finance their businesses. The GEEP is innovatively targeted and delivered under three unique products. The TraderMoni for marginalized youth, The MarketMoni targets vulnerable women, and the FarmerMoni specifically focuses on rural farmers.
“With Mr. President’s gracious approval for expansion to provide loans to an additional 1,000,000 beneficiaries, with emphasis to targeting small holder farmers in the year 2020/2021, the GEEP has been restructured and is being flagged-off today as GEEP 2.0.
“The GEEP 2.0 is structured to effectively deliver soft loans & skills to a wide range of unemployed citizens including persons living with disability, marginalized women and unemployed youth amongst other vulnerable groups in our society.
“Other key features of GEEP 2.0 includes: empowering Nigerian farmers especially the rural farmers; rapid scale-up of Farmer Moni to agroprenuership to increase agricultural produce, food security and job creation; Market Moni will specially focus on under-privileged and marginalized woman in the communities.
“The Trader Moni will target empowerment and uplifting under-privileged and vulnerable youth like scavengers, market wheel barrow boys, orphans and youth with special needs; have a nationwide reach which intends to empower farmers in rural area irrespective of gender, race or religion across all the 36 states of Nigeria; and it is anticipated also to reduce unemployment by creation of skilled jobs for the under-privileged in our society.
“I wish to state here that the GEEP 2.0 is well coordinated and has an implementation model that accommodates representation at the Federal, State and Local Government levels. Part of the new strategies include an increase in the loan portfolio of TraderMoni and Market Moni loans from N10,000.00 to N50,000.00, while the Farmer Moni is now N300,000 along with the provision of value chain and creation of digital marketplace (E-platform) for beneficiaries to sell their products.
“Furthermore, a digital integration, and coordination platform along with a strong and centralized monitoring and evaluation system aimed at enhancing loans recovery. The NSIP and by extension, the GEEP currently remains the main driving force behind poverty reduction in Nigeria,” she said
She charged Nigerians who are specially targeted by the NSIP and indeed the GEEP to “please take advantage of all that the programme offers so that the vision of Mr. President of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 2030 will unfailingly be accomplished.”
The federal government also reaffirmed its prioritization of the NSIP as not long ago the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha disclosed that over N400 billion is being spent annually on the implementation of NSIPs, applauded the role being played by the ministry towards emancipating Nigerian youths, women and vulnerable groups across the country
“Federal government NSIP stands tall amongst the people’s programme of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. The NPower programme is the single largest programme in sub-Saharan African today and many more. We have a president who is readily committed to the eradication of poverty as a way to accelerate Nigeria’s development. At the core of Mr. President’s initiative are the people,” Mustapha said.
Speaking succinctly, the National Coordinator, NSIP, Dr. Umar Bindir said that all the NSIP Clusters, including the N-power, Home Grown School Feeding Programme, HGSFP, Government Enterprise Empowerment Program, GEEP, and the Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT, recognise a clear democratic structure as their guiding principles.
Bindir added that the NSIP accommodates beneficiaries from the 36 states of the federation, FCT and the 774 local government areas, stressing that the creation of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, by President Muhammadu Buhari has boosted poverty alleviation while guaranteeing sustainability.