Still on humanitarian affairs ministry’s effort to lift Nigerians from poverty




Minister Farouq

Since its creation in 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, led by Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, has championed the cause of lifting millions of Nigeria out of poverty particularly in the North-east and other parts of the country. PAUL OKAH in this piece examines how well it has been.

In 2018, the World Poverty Clock (WPC), an online tool that monitors the progress against poverty globally and regionally and provides real-time poverty data across countries, declared Nigeria the poverty capital of the world with more than 87 million people, out of over 200 million population, said to be living in extreme poverty, thus overtaking India who had 73 million people living in extreme poverty.

However, in an update in March, this year, considering the Covid-19 pandemic economic effects, WPC noted that India has once again surpassed Nigeria as the nation with the highest number of extremely poor people.

According to its data, extremely poor people are those living on N800 per day (less than $2 per day). According to the new data, no fewer than 83 million Indians have been plunged into extreme poverty in 2022, representing six per cent of the country’s population, which stands at 1.3 billion.

For Nigeria, WPC stated that 70 million people are living in extreme poverty, representing 33 percent of Nigeria’s over 200 million people, while in 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) declared that more than 80 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty (on a dollar per day).

For a country with over 200 million population, with more than 70 million people said to be poor (against 83 million people in India), graduate unemployment is commonplace, while school leavers and those unfortunate enough not to gain any form of western education have to make do with menial jobs to eke out a living in rural and urban areas.

As a result of the growing unemployment in Nigeria, upon assumption of office in 2015, President Muhammadu initiated programmes to rescue Nigerians from the manacles of poverty, including the creation of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) in 2016, which was overseen by the office of the Vice President.

Upon his re-election in 2019, the president created the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADMSD) on August 21, 2019, and appointed Sadiya Umar Farouq as its pioneer minister and subsequently transferred some of the programmes hitherto under the purvey of the Office of the Vice President to the ministry for effective coordination.

Being a ministry with the mandate to rescue millions of Nigerians out of poverty, many agencies were brought under it. They include NEMA and with testimonials of putting smiles on the faces of Nigerians and giving hope to the hopeless.

A peep into NSIP

The National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) is arguably the biggest social protection and poverty eradication programme put in place by any government in Nigeria and one of the biggest in Africa. It was established by President Buhari in 2016 to address immediate and long-term socio-economic imbalances and inequalities, alleviate poverty and stimulate accelerated economic growth.

The NSIP has four main clusters; N-Power, National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), with each of the programmes carefully designed to address specific socio-economic challenges and protect Nigerians from poverty, economic shocks and social vulnerabilities by increasing the income and livelihood of the poor and vulnerable households, reducing youth unemployment, among others.

The programme commenced in the office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, where it was successfully implemented before it was transferred to the ministry in 2019.

Also, with regards to the laudable achievements by the minister in implementing the N-Power programme, the Ministry successfully exited the 500,000 Batch A and B N-Power beneficiaries in 2020 and received about 6.4 million applications for batch C. From Batches A & B 109,823 beneficiaries have gone on to set up businesses in their communities, underlining and highlighting the impact and importance of the N-Power programme.

Under Batch C stream 1, there are 510,000 currently enrolled and benefitting from the programme, while an additional 490,000 will be enrolled following Presidential approval to increase the number to one million, while the Ministry recently flagged off the training of exited N Power beneficiaries known as NEXIT, a programme where exited beneficiaries are trained and CBN provides loans to enable them start businesses so they can be employers of labour.

Also, in a bid to bridge the gap between the rural communities and the financial services required, the ministry came up with the Mobile Money Agents programme, a nationwide effort under N-Power, which trained and equipped 1,850 agents (50 agents per state) with tools such as: Point of Sales (POS) machines, fingerprint scanner, plastic chair, plastic table, outdoor umbrella and hardcover ledger.

Furthermore, the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme is ongoing in 35 states and the FCT. It was introduced in 2016 to provide one free nutritious meal to children in primary 1-3 across public schools in Nigeria. Presently, almost 10 million children in 54, 619 schools are benefiting from this creative programme, with 120,000 cooks, about 100,000 small holder farmers and numerous aggregators also benefitting from the programme nationwide. Recently, the ministry reviewed the cost of feeding each child from N70 to N100 per meal.

CCT, GEEP

The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) component involves the financing of safety net transfers to targeted Poor and Vulnerable Households (PVHHs) included in the National Social Register (NSR), delivering regular and reliable transfers in a way that is accessible to beneficiaries and with benefit levels that are consistent with project objectives.

This provides NGN 5,000 monthly to the eligible PVHHs mined from the NSR. The transfer is to help improve their consumption levels and to encourage them to develop savings skills. The overall objective is aimed at reducing poverty, preventing the vulnerable households from becoming poorer and building their ability to be better than what they were before they started benefiting from the programme.

Enrolment of beneficiaries into the programme commenced in 2017 and as at April, 2018 the programme had enrolled 261,501 beneficiary households into the National Beneficiary Register (NBR) across 19 States. As at 25th November, 2021, 1,928,374 beneficiary households have been enrolled into the NBR nationwide. This is a pointer to the success the programme has achieved in line with the President’s vision of lifting a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty.

On the other hand, the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) aims at addressing the challenges of credit and financial inclusion for the over 37 million Nigerians at the base of the economic pyramid who are involved in active commercial activity, but have never had the opportunity to access loans.

GEEP has so far provided incremental loans of between N10, 000 and N300, 000 to about 2.3 million beneficiaries who are traders, artisans, enterprising youth, agricultural workers and other micro-service providers; under its flagship programs TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni.

TraderMoni caters to poor and vulnerable enterprising youths while MarketMoni caters to the poor and vulnerable enterprising women both components disburse N 50,000. Poor and rural farmers are captured under FarmerMoni and the loan amount is N 300,000.

FG, ECOWAS’ largesse

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) received US$1 million in 2021 from the federal government as part of an ECOWAS humanitarian assistance to victims of violent conflicts in the North-west and North-east of Nigeria.

According to a joint statement made available to Blueprint Weekend on March 18, the fund from ECOWAS was granted to Nigeria from the ECOWAS Regional Stabilisation Fund. The Government of Nigeria accordingly sought the collaboration of WFP in Nigeria to apply the fund for alleviating food and nutrition needs in Katsina, Zamfara and Borno states.

The programme targeted 840 food insecure households (some 4,196 persons) in Zamfara, Katsina and Borno states with food assistance. The target beneficiaries receive an average cash transfer of NGN 27,000 in their prepaid bank cards or WFP SCOPE cards every month to buy their preferred food from local markets. Beneficiaries are encouraged to buy a wide range of local nutritious foods from their preferred shops. Cash transfers have an additional advantage of stimulating local markets and agricultural production.

To prevent acute malnutrition in children in the first 1,000 days of their lives, the programme also provides nutrition assistance to children six-23 months old and to pregnant and breastfeeding women from vulnerable and food insecure households. Some 14,070 children and 1,932 pregnant/breastfeeding women receive specialized nutritious food in the three (3) project states.

In addition to providing life-saving food and nutrition assistance to vulnerable families, WFP is also using the ECOWAS donation to build the resilience of the households in the conflict-affected states of Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and Katsina. The project will provide milling machines and training support to 603 returnees from Cameroon and displaced rural women to support them in generating some income to sustain their livelihoods.

According to the minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq, the donation will help in the provision of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable families.

“This project has provided the FMHADMSD the unique opportunity of showcasing best practices of partnership and collaboration in delivering humanitarian intervention. It has equally advanced the efforts of the Nigerian Government in touching the lives of a critical mass of Nigerians in vulnerable situations,” she said.

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