The Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, said with the successful activation of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), Cash Transfer scheme, the government vision of lifting about 20 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next two years was within reach.
The ESP Cash Transfer scheme is aimed at delivering financial support to, at least, one million urban-based households using technology.
Osinbajo stated this while flagging-off, virtually, the cash transfer scheme to be facilitated through a wholly technology-based approach called the Rapid Response Register (RRR).
A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, in Abuja, explained that RRR was the means by which urban poor and vulnerable population can be speedily identified using geographic satellite technology and other related means for the purposes of delivering cash to households affected by the fallouts of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
Akande, in the statement quoted the Vice President as saying that, “the groundbreaking success of the RRR, now emboldens us to achieve our aspiration of a social security programme for a minimum of twenty million Nigerians in the next two years. This will be the largest of its kind on the continent. This (aspiration) is, at least from the perspective of this tested approach, now well within our reach.
“The only constraint, of course, is the funding which we must look for because this country deserves a social security scheme that will not merely alleviate poverty but also create wealth for the millions of those who are waiting for this opportunity.
“Our government launched the National Social Protection Policy (NSPP) in 2017 to provide the framework for institutionalizing the work we started since 2016 on reducing extreme poverty in Nigeria, based on our administration’s vision to create a comprehensive social security programme for the poor and vulnerable and thereafter the pledge to lift 100 million Nigerian’s out of poverty in ten years.”
According to Osinbajo, the launch of the RRR social protection method of targeting, which he said was the first strategy to be developed and tested in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, would enable Nigeria tackle poverty in a more systematic manner, leveraging technology to expand the scope of the interventions.
He said, “As of 31st December, 2020, we have identified and registered about 24.3million poor and vulnerable individuals into the National Social Register; equivalent to about 5.7million households. Through this project, we are currently injecting about N10billion directly into the hands of about 2 million poor and vulnerable people every month.
“This is about the largest evidence-based effort by any administration on poverty reduction and its impact on the lives of the poor is huge; by way of improving the livelihoods of the beneficiaries through enhanced household purchasing power; smoothening consumption; increasing savings and acquisition of household assets; and improving the local economy. There are many more ramifications.”
Earlier in her remarks, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, said the initiative would provide a gateway to other important government programmes, adding that Nigeria now has a database for impact tracking and the expansion of social interventions and related programmes, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision of extending financial support to more Nigerians.
She said, “By design, this register links to other databases such as banking information of respondents and national identity numbers. It is also a process that is advanced in unifying national databank towards the delivery of social development in Nigeria. There is no doubt that in future, as has been demonstrated in the previous presentation, we would be reverting to the process used here and the register itself, to aid emergency assistance”.
Also speaking, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Mr Subham Chaudhuri, commended the Federal Government for the initiative, noting it as a critical component in the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
While pledging the support of the World Bank for the project, Chaudhuri emphasized the need for stakeholders to remain transparent in the selection and disbursement of the funds to the beneficiaries.
Akande, in the statement said that, “About 3,115 households received alerts of payments instantly at the flag-off of the project by the Vice President. A total of 1 million households would be impacted directly under the scheme in the next 6 months.
“The Cash Transfer scheme which is part of the ESP is designed to build a shock responsive framework for capturing and registering the urban poor and vulnerable populations across Nigeria. The RRR focuses mainly on the urban poor wards selected using scientifically validated methods of satellite remote sensing technology, machine learning algorithm and big data analysis.”
Also present at the event include the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige; the representative of the European Union (EU) mission in Nigeria, Mr Ketil Karlsen, among others.
Gov Uncovers 3,900 Ghost IDPs In Borno Camp
The Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Umara Zulum has fished out fake internally displaced persons (IDPs) at a IDPs camp in Maiduguri during a surprise visit to the camp.
Around midnight, yesterday, Zulum showed up at Mohammed Goni College of Islamic and Legal Studies in Maiduguri, where internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Abadam Local Government Area of northern Borno were being camped.
Zulum immediately sealed the entrance and supervised a headcount to identify actual IDPs, in order to put a stop to rampant cases of dubious residents pretending to be displaced, who spend day time at IDP camps to share food meant for IDPs, and towards the night, they return to their homes to sleep, with some of benefiting from other means through which the state distributes food to vulnerable non-IDPs in communities.
The governor’s mission, which ended past 1am, discovered that out of 1,000 households in the records of humanitarian officials, 650 households comprising 3,900 IDPs were ghosts.
No fewer than 450 households were found to be real IDPs after Zulum’s midnight headcount which was conducted by the governor alongside an official of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Air Commodore M. T. Abdullahi, and two commissioners (Agriculture, and Local Government and Emirate Affairs).
In humanitarian system, a household normally consist of at least six persons who are either related through families, or chosen to stay together for the purpose of receiving household aids.
Officials, who were part of the midnight headcount, said Zulum was not averse to approving support for any citizen who may be vulnerably in need of food since there is a committee doing that.
The governor also expressed opposition to some residents making dubious claims in other to take what is meant for IDPs while also benefiting from other existing welfare activities that target non IDPs
Troops Chase Boko Haram Fighters Out Of Borno Town
Soldiers, yesterday, prevented Boko Haram fighters from mounting a barricade on Damaturu-Maiduguri highway in Borno State.
The soldiers reportedly engaged the insurgents in a gun battle around Mainok and Jakana towns.
A commercial driver said that the incident happened shortly after the usual daily road closure was eased in the morning.
Troops usually close the road in the evening and open it at 7am, every day.
The driver said suspected insurgents who were about to mount road barricades and attack travellers were overpowered and driven away by soldiers.
“We were on our way to Maiduguri after spending the night in Damaturu when we were stopped by soldiers at a place after Mainok.
“We were earlier asked to turn back and later we were told to stay there. Shots were later fired ahead of us, which sounded like gunfire exchange. We were asked to proceed after about thirty five minutes,” he said.
He said extra patrols were stationed along the road.
Boko Haram has made life a hell for those who ply that route.
It was on the route that a newlywed bride was abducted last week but she was freed 24 hours after.
Before decorating the new service chiefs, last Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari gave them a few weeks to tackle the widespread insecurity in the country.
Suspend 25% Contribution To Federation Account, FAAN Begs FG
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has called for the stoppage of its 25 per cent revenue contribution to the Federation Account.
FAAN said this would help it to address some infrastructure gaps.
The General Manager, FAAN, Mr Rabiu Yadudu, made the appeal during an oversight visit of the Senate Committee on Aviation at the Lagos Airport, yesterday.
Yadudu decried accumulated airlines debt to aviation agencies, particularly FAAN, adding that a particular airline owed N13billion for services rendered and unpaid.
Yadudu noted that one way to ensure development in the industry was to allow revenue generated by agencies in the sector to be ploughed back.
The managing director said that the practice was obtainable across the globe and was also part of the international standard and recommended practice.
“The industry still has an infrastructure gap to stabilise; therefore, government’s support in stabilising the industry is needed.
“This can be achieved by suspending the contributions to the Federation Account in compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) Doc 9562.
“This document on airport generation provides that revenue generated by the airport should be transparently re-invested wholly in operating and developing airport facilities,” he said.
Yadudu said revenue generation was low as only two airports – the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) mainly sustained other airports expenditures.
He also highlighted the global economic challenge, both national and international, which had affected airline operators, causing them to reduce fleet, frequencies or withdraw operations, thus affecting the agency’s revenue generation.
Yadudu lamented the rising operating and maintenance cost of the new terminals and existing ones due to inflation and the devaluation of the naira.
However, the managing director said the agency was tweaking its plans to make other airports that were not breaking even to perform.
He also said the airport management had embarked on aggressive debt recovery, while introducing a Pay As You Go system, adding that it had also commenced a cashless policy among other loophole blockage areas.
Responding, the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Smart Adeyemi, said the idea was commendable, noting that the issue was constitutional and would require a constitutional review to achieve.
Adeyemi stressed the need for rehabilitation of airports.
“There are quite a lot of airports in the country that we need to start looking at budget inclusion for next year, not this year.
“We will not wait till there is a mishap before we start looking at fixing the runways which are in bad shape, a number of them since they were constructed have not been touched, and at times when you land in some of these airports, you don’t need to be a pilot to know that the plane will not maintain a balance,” he said.
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