The news that the N5000 stipend was being paid by the federal government was welcomed with blended sentiments. While some rain praises on President Muhammadu Buhari for satisfying his campaign promise.
The presidency through the senior special assistant to the vice president on media and publicity, Laolu Akande has finally revealed how it went about the disbursing of the funds.
Akande noted that the data collected belongs to Nigeria, saying the selection could not be described as partisan since beneficiaries from eight of the nine pilot states were picked even before the present administration.
“This is an entirely fair and transparent process and short of mischief, there is no way you can describe this process as partisan. The president is president of the entire country and the SIPs are for all Nigerians as the case may be.”
According to him, in addition to the nine pilot states and with the release of funds for the programmes, the CBT model has now commenced in other states.
On how the beneficiaries were identified
“First, the officials at federal level, working with the state officials, identify the poorest local government areas, using an existing poverty map for the state, then the local officials identify the poorest communities in the LGAs and we send our teams there. The first thing our team does after selection of the LGAs is to select members of the NOA, the LGA and community officials to form the CBT team. Then we train the selected officials on how to conduct focus group discussions at community level.
“These focus groups comprise women, men, youths as the community determines. After training them, the CBT teams go to each of their communities to sensitize the leaders, including traditional rulers, on the CBT process and the necessity for objectivity and openness in the process. At that meeting, they firm up a date to convene a community meeting at a designated location within the community. On the set date, discussions are held in the local languages, using terminologies that resonate in that community.
“The CBT team will explain to the community the purpose of the gathering; that is, to determine the parameters of poverty upon which persons can be described as poor and vulnerable within the context of that community. The CBT teams will then engage each group (men, women and youths) in the conversation around the criteria and parameters for determining the poorest people. The groups would then be encouraged to identify those households that fall within the criteria that the community itself determines, and told that the information is required for government’s planning purposes.
“Various poverty criteria have been thrown up so far. In some cases, people have said it’s the number of times they eat, it’s the number of times the fumes of firewood go up from the house, the size of farmland or type of crops grown.
Then, the groups resume in plenary and report back the criteria and parameters discussed. The CBT team would then compile the criteria and parameters and ask each group to return to their break-out sessions and now begin to identify the households in the community that have been identified as fitting the criteria and parameters.
“Once that’s done at the groups, everybody comes together again with names compiled by each group. Now, when the same name is featured in at least two of the three groups, it is deemed qualified to be listed on the social register. At this stage, we now enumerate the members of the household and open a bank account for each of the care-givers by capturing the biometric data of households identified as among the poorest and vulnerable.”
He said the states had been updated on the requirements for the engagement by the federal team and once the lists from the states were enumerated, their details would be uploaded onto a server at the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System “which hosts the electronic platform that validates all the payments of the FG for social investment programmes.”
Akande said banks had been informed that payments must be at community level, adding that “those banks engaged for the pilot stage have, in turn, engaged several payment agents to ensure cash-out to the beneficiaries in their places of residence which are distant to the bank locations.”