The cheering news from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development is the inclusion of men in the Grant for Vulnerable Groups (GVG) programme. The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, unfurled the development at a recent parley with Civil Society Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations, stakeholders and the media to herald the flag-off of the next round of disbursement of N20,000 to beneficiaries drawn from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
She explained that men now constitute 30 per cent of the total number of beneficiaries in order to encourage social inclusion, while 70 per cent are women. She also said that 15 per cent of the total beneficiaries would be people with special needs, including Persons With Disabilities (PWDs), internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the elderly. This, according to her, is in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s all-encompassing social inclusion initiative, which will also benefit senior citizens, forcefully displaced persons, returnees, widows, and orphans, among others.
The minister said, “Our target in the FCT is to disburse the grant to over 2,900 beneficiaries across the six Area Councils. In line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s social inclusion, 70% of the total number of beneficiaries is for women, while the remaining 30% is for men. In addition, about 15% of the total number of beneficiaries is specifically allocated to the segment of the population with special needs, including Persons with Disability (PWDs), internally displaced persons (IDPs) and senior citizens in the FCT”.
The programme is also aimed at sucking in poor rural and peri-urban women and men within the productive age of 18 and above.
The exclusion of the menfolk from the laudable scheme, ab initio, did not only place them at odds but also suggested that men were immune to poverty, a condition the programme seeks to address. There is no doubt that failure to carry the male rural poor along in the scheme would put the married female beneficiaries at a disadvantage because of financial pressure that the former might exert on them. The new thinking underscores the axiom that what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander.
The minister acknowledged that the programme had impacted positively on the lives of the vulnerable poor in Nigeria, noting that she had personally witnessed the life-changing experiences of people living below the poverty line and those that were vulnerable to poverty shocks. We cannot agree less.
According to her, the GVG programme was introduced in 2020 to sustain the social inclusion agenda of the Buhari Administration in line with its drive to rescue 100 million Nigerians from the lethal jaws of poverty in 10 years. A cash grant of N20,000.00 will be disbursed to each poor woman and man across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Last Thursday, the ministry began the disbursement of N20,000 each to the vulnerable poor, as the second round of the GVG programme flagged off in Abuja, to encourage inclusivity. The target in the FCT was to disburse the grant to over 2,900 beneficiaries across the six Area Councils in line with the new percentage formula.
The minister had earlier launched the digitised payment for the Conditional Cash Transfer programme and on-boarding of the second stream of Independent Monitors ptogramme in Cross River state, noting that the poverty index of Nigeria before the emergence of the Buhari administration was at 70 per cent but now reduced to 43 per cent, while the ultimate goal of 20 per cent was being pursued. At the occasion, she stated that the GVG programme was introduced in 2020 to sustain the social inclusion agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration.
Appreciating the value of the laudable initiative, many state governments are keying into it. At the flag-off of Cash Grants to Vulnerable Groups in Cross River and Bayelsa states by the minister, the Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Benedict Ayade, thanked the minister for her numerous humanitarian and social welfare intervention programmes and called on the ministry to patronise rice farms established in the state specifically to support the Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
He said, “We set up these factories after we saw the budget provision for the School Feeding Programme. Three factories came into existence occasioned by the existence of your ministry. We plead with you to patronise these rice factories which are gluten-free”.
In Bayelsa State, Governor Douye Diri commended the minister for the various social investment programmes of the ministry in the state which have greatly impacted the poor and vulnerable.
About 3,351 beneficiaries from across the 11 Local Government Areas of Cross River state will get a one-off grant of N20,000 each while 50 independent monitors will get N30,000 monthly. In Bayelsa, 2,219 vulnerable persons and 40 independent monitors will benefit as well.
This programme is, indeed, a beacon of hope for the poor and vulnerable Nigerians and Minister Sadiya is well cut out for the arduous task of leading the charge to make life worth living for such people, given her rich background as Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons prior to her current assignment. She has rolled out numerous initiatives which have had positive impacts on the socio-economic life of the vulnerable poor and demonstrated an uncommon aversion to poverty. The Buhari government could not have chosen a more capable amazon for the herculean assignment. We hope she will maintain the momentum and her conscionable commitment to deliver on the government’s pledge to Nigerians.