The Federal Government’s social investment projects tagged the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) is designed to tackle poverty in the country. The programmes: National Cash Transfer Programme (NCTP) and Government Empowerment and Enterprise Programme (GEEP), are already touching lives of beneficiaries positively and brightening the faces of the poorest of the poor in the country.
In executing the project in the most transparent manner, the Federal Government has identified about 80 million poor people in Nigeria. Thirty per cent of this alarming statistics has further been identified as the poorest of the poor. So far, over 200, 000 of this number have received conditional grants to support and launch them out of abject poverty. Of the millions of poor Nigerians the programme has scoped, government in an unprecedented manner is targeting to reach one million poor households this year. Already, the sum of N5,000 has been allocated to the identified 200,000 households, totalling up to a billion naira expended monthly with some households being paid N10,000 bi-monthly.
This has created a palpable joy across the country with many now singing a new song. Lost hopes are being restored and testimonies abound. For instance, Mrs. Grace Olaoye, from Odo-Ora community of Ido/Osi Local Government Area of Ekiti State, said: “I used to find life very difficult to cope with before this programme started. I hardly afforded three square meals daily let alone send the children to school.
“With the programme, I’m now able to feed and contribute to the payment of my child’s school fees. He is already a final year student in Ekiti State University. After my first payment, I joined a rotational contributory group (Ajo), which has really helped me. I am able to invest in “Fufu” (akpu) making business. My living standard has improved since I started the “Fufu” business. I can now afford three square meals, buy more cassava for Fufu making, and able to buy little things for my household. Also, Mrs. Bilikis Abdulakeem, with registration number NC/KW/ FUF/OKO-OBA/34, is from Oko Oba Community of Ilorin South Local Government Area of Kwara State. She has a family of five. She said: “Prior to this project, we were solely dependent on my husband’s income as a labourer, which was not steady.
There were times when there would be nothing at home to eat for the family, we only survived hunger by the grace of God. But with the cash transfer to us, which is timely, there is always something to feed on now. We have also learnt to save from the money we were paid.” But Olaoye and Abdulakeem are not the only ones with testimonies. Oruma Owuda from Ohiana Community, Okene Local Government Area, Kogi State, has hers too.
“My family was living in poverty. We could not afford a meal in a day. And we were staying in a make Shift house, constructed with shaky planks of wood. We have five children and none of them has been able to finish primary school. Due to our status, we could not afford access to public health care.
“With the coming of the NCTP, we are able to feed at least two times a day. This has made life better for us. We were even able to join the cooperative formed in our community and as a result, we are able to erect a mud house, where we now live happily. This programme has changed our lives. We thank our President for the good work. God will bless him.” For Malama Tela Uba with the registration number NW/JG/ MIG/DANGYATIN/ KOMAI ALLAH YAYI/040, from Dangyatin Community of Miga Local Government Area of Jigawa State, “My family could barely have food to eat but after I was enrolled into the programme, I received the sum of N10,000 and used the money to purchase some food items for my family.
“As it is today there is hope that something will come in. So, thinking of what to eat and paying my children’s school fees is no longer a problem. I want to thank the president and anyone that has contributed in any form to the success of this programme. I pray that Allah will reward them abundantly.”
Uwani Yakubu with the registration number NE/BA/TSG/SHARIFORI/ 1/002/02, who hails from Sharifori Community, Itas/Gadau Local Government Area of Bauchi State, also testified: “The coming of this programme has really brought about a positive change in my family life. I have been able to start this small business with the N10,000 I receive every two months. “Presently, I have a stable source of income from the groundnut oil and daddawa that I produce.
This has indeed made me self-reliant. With this, handling some household needs is not an issue. I thank the government for this assistance. Allah will continue to bless the government.” Fatima Isa, from Garin Itas Community, Itas/Gadau Local Government Area of Bauchi State, said: “I never knew I could hold N10, 000 of my own.
What we are seeing happening in our community today is good. My children could not go to school because I did not have money to pay their school fees but today they are in school and it is easy to pay. Most importantly to us is feeding and clothing, which are no longer a problem. We are much happier now.
I thank the government for this support.” While Mrs. Mariatu Sule, an aged mother who lost her only child at an early age, also said: “My life was a living hell with no means of survival. Anytime I fall ill, I would resort to herbs within my reach. Sometimes, if I was lucky, I would get well.
“But, my story changed on May 27, 2017, when I was asked to come and collect money that government sent to me. At first, I found it hard to believe, because I’ve never heard of government giving money just like that. But when I got there, behold I was given N10,000. This was a miracle to me. The money has been coming every two months. I have received this money six times; N10,000 each time of payment. “My life has changed for good since I started collecting the money. Anytime I fall sick, I get medicine at ease and my feeding has improved. I now eat good food and even have some savings.
This programme has helped and united us in this community. I wish it will go across the entire village and neighbouring villages because I know there are many people out their looking for help. “The government has saved us and God in heaven will never let you people lack. When I heard that the man that brought this programme was ill, I prayed to God to take me instead and let the man continue his good mission for the vulnerable like me. I later heard, he was okay and I wiped my tears. God will continue to protect him for us.” There are many more.
On what necessitated the programme, the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, Mrs Mariam Uwais said: “Everywhere we turned, we saw the poor and vulnerable defenceless against the conditions of their situation.” The NCTP, she said, provides a stipulated sum for the poor and the vulnerable households, with the aim of graduating them out of poverty.
To facilitate this vision, beneficiaries are expected to form or join cooperatives and are provided with capacity building to enable skill empowerments and provided with nutrition information that will jointly bring poverty and starvation to an end. Uwais stated that her office was working with Action Aid known for reduction of poverty. She said: “We asked them to select independent monitors of the year from all the states so that they will monitor what we are doing because we aim at improving as we go along. We are working with the states. “But we would need to know if we are improving or not. Action Aid had done the selection about a year ago.
Each NGO that has been selected has the track record; it also has affiliates of two community base per senatorial district. What Action Aid is doing now is trying to conduct due diligence to ensure that they do have what they claim they have when they applied and were interviewed. The youth and children have been accounted for in this quest for social and economic emancipation; women have certainly not been left out.”
As gathered, GEEP is tailored, especially towards market women. It is targeted at providing micro loans to 1.6 million businesses, particularly to those that are at the bottom of the financial pyramid, such as market women, women cooperatives, traders and other similar categories. So far, It has reached over 350, 000 beneficiaries across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja , providing small loans between the range of N50, 000 to N100, 000 to market women and associations. It is the second largest social loan project of its type in the world.
The vision of GEEP is to provide access to finance and sustainable financial inclusion, particularly for minorities. “We are encouraged by the unspeakable joy we see on the faces of the 297,973 poor and vulnerable beneficiaries far of our NCTP that is currently being implemented across the country,” Uwais said.
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