COVID 19: MANTRA Partners Hail Expansion of Social Register, Urges Consistency With Best Practice
BENIN CITY, NIGERIA. April 14, 2020…. Civil Society Watchdog, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) and its MANTRA partners currently monitoring the returned $322.5million Abacha loot nationwide have hailed the presidential directive to expand the Nigeria social register from 2.6million households to 3.6million households in the next two weeks.
Executive Director of ANEEJ, Rev David Ugolor in a reaction to the Presidential broadcast welcomed the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to increase the number of poor Nigerians enrolled to benefit from Conditional Cash Transfer Programme particularly in the face of the COVID 19 challenge but called on the Federal Government and the World Bank to ensure that poor Nigerians to be added to the list follow a transparent and best practices in social protection programme like the Community Based Targeting model.
“The National Social Safety Nets Coordination Office (NASSCO) developed the current national register using the Community Based Targeting model where members of an indigent community identify what poverty means to them and who the community considers the poorest households amongst them. We want such a model to be used to identify the additional one million beneficiaries. We hope the technical committee set up by Mr. President will be working with NASSCO to generate the list of beneficiaries.
“We also want some clarifications from government if the new enrollees would be entitled to the returned $322.5million Abacha loot or some more funds are going to be injected into the scheme following the expansion,” Ugolor asked.
Executive Director, FAHIMTA Women and Youth Development Initiative (FAWOYDI) and North East Coordinator of MANTRA, Hajiya Maryam Garba, while also welcoming the Presidential directive urged that the GFAR principles agreed between the Federal Government, the Swiss Government and the World Bank in the MoU signed in Washington DC in 2017 should be adhered to in selecting the new beneficiaries, to avoid politicization of the process.
“Nigerians saw how politicians want to have their way in deciding those to make the list of beneficiaries and the debate that it generated. There is a global standard used to identify the poorest of the poor in communities and we would not want politics brought into the list of country’s social register enrollees,” Maryam Garba advised.
In his reaction, Executive Director of Socio Economic Research and Development Centre (SERDEC), Mr Tijani Abdulkareem advised the Federal Government not to succumb to pressure from the politicians in expanding the National Social Register.
The Executive Director of Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), Kano, Mallam Ibrahim Zikirullahi while welcoming the presidential address, picked holes in the communication strategy adopted by government to prevent spread of COVID 19 suggesting more robust strategy at the sub-national levels. “In kano as in many North Western States, there is information gap which needs to be urgently addressed using a comprehensive and robust communication strategy involving government, Civil Society Organisations and community gate keepers.”
Secretary General of the Bayelsa Non-Governmental Forum (BANGOF), Mr Keme Opia said aside Cross River, most states in the South-South have not been benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme and urges the Federal Government to use this opportunity to bridge the existing gap.
“I am happy with the presidential directive for the expansion of beneficiaries of the scheme, but we want to see more states in the South- South benefiting also. With the nationwide lockdown and COVID 19, the poorest of the poor in the south-south are at the receiving end as well and the new expansion should see poor people in South-South of Nigeria also benefiting”
Adding his voice to the position of South-South MANTRA Coordinators, Mr. Abiodun Oyeleye, Executive Director of New Initiative for Social Development (NISD) and South West Coordinator of the MANTRA project urged the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affair, Disaster Management and Social Development as well as NASSCO office to ensure that poorest of the poor in Lagos and Ogun States locked down by the federal government are not just enrolled in the scheme but are also paid to cushion the hardship they are facing in the two states.
In the same vein, Mr. Victor Oriakhi, Board Member of the New Apostolic Church Centre for Development (NCD) wondered why Edo State which is the fourth most affected state in Nigeria with 14 cases of Corona Virus confirmed cases is not yet receiving the Cash Transfers from the federal government. We want the Federal Government to use this opportunity to correct perceived imbalance in the Social Investment Programme.