STAKEHOLDERS and civil society organisations have faulted the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management over the alleged diversion of millions of naira meant for rural women grants.
The organisations made this known during an anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG) on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 in Abuja.
This was in reaction to an investigative report published by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) exposing the corruption in the social intervention funds disbursement.
The Director of Tubali Development Initiative, Hauwa Mustapha, described the “diversion and misappropriation” of the social investment funds to alleviate the poverty and suffering of rural women “was satanic, wicked and sheer stealing.”
Mustapha urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to step up on its mandate of fighting corruption in the public sector.
“Going forward, the Federal Government has to change the format to stop giving cash and should rather use some sort of docket. The local government should be involved, but it should do away with cash and use dockets instead,” she said.
She charged Nigerians to seize the forthcoming electioneering period to ask politicians and public office holders questions over the misappropriation of grants for rural women when they approach them to canvas for votes.
The Grant For Rural Women (GRW) is part of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) introduced to ensure the realisation of the Muhammadu Buhari-led government’s aspiration of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
Similarly, the President of the Small Scale Women Farmers in Nigeria (SWOFON), Mary Afan, represented by Mercy Nnanna, revealed that the group was aware of the diversion of N20,000 each grant for rural women.
Afan urged the Buhari administration to go back to the drawing board regarding social investment.
“In planning, they should change the strategy on how they disburse these funds. The distribution method should be in kind rather than giving people direct cash,” she advised.
Afan also alleged that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs had sidelined the SWOFON members, primarily rural women, from benefiting from the government’s cash grants.
Elijah Akoji, who is the author of the investigative report, advised the federal government to disburse social investment funds through the local governments because of its closeness to rural dwellers.
Akoji stressed that the investigation became necessary over the age-long neglect of rural women and the stealing of monies by public officials.
The investigation uncovered that 15 persons had received millions of naira meant as grants for rural women in Jigawa, Kano and Kaduna states into their private accounts.
Three individuals identified in the investigations were alleged to have received N86.4 million, N73.6 million, and N140.8 million from the grants for vulnerable women in Jigawa, Kano and Kaduna states.
The report further revealed that the disbursement of the N20,000 each in cash as grant to rural women in the states had been marred by irregularities and lack of transparency.