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COVID-19: Contradictions surround source of conditional cash transfer to poor citizens in Nigeria

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DESPITE claim by Sadiya Umar-Farouk, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, that the money being disbursed by the Federal Government for the conditional cash transfer to poor households so far were all from World Bank loans, a civil society organisation,  AFRICA Network for Environment & Economic Justice (ANEEJ) says the programme was partly funded by $322.5million returned from Abacha loot.

In December 2017, Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding MOU with Switzerland on the return and monitoring of the $322million Abacha loot.

The fund was to be used for the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) that began in December 2016.

The Federal Government also obtained a $500 million credit from the World Bank to run the initiative for six years from 2016 to 2022. Another source of fund was the N500 billion National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP), captured in the Federal Government budgets since 2016.

The NSIP was last year moved away from the office of the vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo, to the newly-established Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, headed by Umar-Farouq.

But ANEEJ, a Non-Profit Organisation (NGO) that was funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) to monitor the conditional cash transfer process insists that the Minister was misquoted when she said  the conditional cash transfer was being funded by loans from the World Bank.

During a meeting with leadership of National Assembly on the disbursement of the money, she admitted that there was a need to widen the National Social Register to reach more poor and vulnerable people in the society and added that her ministry was presently in talks with the World Bank about this.

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David Ugolor, the Executive Director of ANEEJ in an interview with The ICIR , argued that the minister might have been quoted out of context for saying the palliatives disbursed were fully World Bank loan.

According to Ugolor, his NGO was out to monitor the use of the returned $322.5million Abacha loot which from the MoU signed between the Nigerian and Swiss Government at the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) summit in Washington DC in 2017, was agreed to be spent on Conditional Cash Transfer Programme.

He disclosed that data obtained from the National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO) and the World Bank,  the Cash Transfer Programme of the Federal Government is composed of 80 per cent returned $322.5million Abacha loot and 20 per cent World Bank loan.

Ugolor went further to say that the payment of N5,000 monthly to poor Nigerians under the scheme commenced August 2018 and was paused in December 2019.

Given the outbreak of COVID 19 in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a nationwide broadcast directed the minister to continue the payment to all those in the National Social Register enrolled in the Cash Transfer Programme as beneficiaries, Ugolor said.

He also said in the phone conversation with The ICIR that the poor citizens are being paid N20,000 each representing four months, January to April 2020.

Ugolor explained that the cash transfer programme in Nigeria uses a global model known as the community-based targeting.

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He said it is a model where members of an indigent community identify what poverty means to them and who the community considers the poorest households among them.

The NCTO works in collaboration with the World Bank in the use of this model, he said further.

It is from this National Social Register of poor and vulnerable households that the NCTO makes payments to the poorest households in the country, Ugolor explained

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