THE Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government has put in place several social investment projects, including the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme, but the number of beneficiaries of this programme is being conflicted by various accounts of the official sources within the presidency, The ICIR’s check has revealed.
In February, Laolu Akande, senior spokesperson to the office of the Vice President which oversees social investment programmes, provided an update on the programmes to the press. The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) had, at the time, recorded over 280,000 beneficiaries in 21 states, he had said.
Corroborating this figure three weeks after, Maryam Uwais, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment Programmes, said on February 25 that 297,973 households were receiving payments and over 400,000 were captured in the source database. The number of beneficiary-states, according to her, was however 20, and not 21.
“So far, we have 455,857 poor and vulnerable households uploaded onto the National Social Register, from which 297,973 households have been mined and are being paid stipends in 20 States,” she said.
“These states are Jigawa, Bauchi State, Kogi, Osun, Cross Rivers, Anambra, Katsina State, Kano State, Taraba, Gombe State, Adamawa, Niger, Nassarawa State, Benue, Oyo State, Ekiti, Kwara, Borno (IDP), Kaduna State and Plateau.’’
On September 13, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo disclosed at a conference organised by the United Nations Population Fund, in Abuja, that this figure has grown by over 50 per cent. About 400,000 Nigerians were currently benefitting from the conditional cash transfer scheme of the government, the vice president said.
This statistic has been repeated by the Buhari Media Organisation, which has contributed significantly to the administration’s scorecard, in a report published on November 13.
However, addressing newsmen at a media roundtable held in Abuja on November 8, Uwais again gave 297,973 as the total number of beneficiaries, sticking also to the claim that the welfare scheme’s reach is present in 20 states.
“This programme is giving out 5,000 Naira monthly to 297,973 households in Nigeria. It is currently being implemented in 20 States,” she noted.
She added that almost 3,000 community cash transfer facilitators have been trained in all wards where the programme has taken effect in order to support beneficiaries in increasing their productivity.
This is in spite of a statement from the National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO) in July announcing the inclusion of six additional states to the scheme — increasing the total number of states to 26.
Confounding matters even more, the APC 2019 campaign manual, which was unveiled on Sunday, states on page 12 that “almost 300,000 Nigerians now receive N5,000 monthly, across 20 states [with] N12.8 billion so far disbursed to beneficiaries.” The next line on the same page again then goes on to say: “the programme is currently implemented in 26 states + Borno.”
Meanwhile, an infographic on the website of the National Social Investment Office still states that the CCT has 52,000 beneficiaries spread across eight states of the federation. The home page gives a much lesser figure of 6,580.
It is not the first time conflicting figures have been noticed concerning the federal government’s social investment programmes.
On Wednesday, The ICIR reported how figures provided by the vice president regarding the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) conflict with the ones stated in the administration’s recently published scorecard — with the latter figure agreeing with statements from Lauretta Onochie, Buhari’s social media aide, and the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).
The VP had said in October at the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit that 720,000 smallholder farmers have benefited from a loan of N120.6 billion under the ABP. Information from other government sources published in the months of August, October and November, however, put the figures as 350,000 farmers and credit of N82 billion.
Investment Office fails to clarify
The ICIR has been unable to get the National Social Investment Office to clarify the apparent contradictions in the provided figures.
Calls placed to Iquo Ayi, the office’s Programme Officer, were not answered, and texts sent to her phone number requesting for the true number of beneficiaries have likewise not been replied.
The Conditional Cash Transfer programme, according to the investment office, “is aimed at providing targeted transfers to poor and vulnerable households, ultimately ensuring that the beneficiary households graduate from poverty – improve household consumption, ensure human capital development, provide livelihood support.”
Beneficiaries are drawn from a national social registry developed by the National Social Safety Net Coordinating Office, NASSCO. The objective is to give a monthly sum of N5000 to one million Nigerian households in the first year, and then an additional 200,000 households are to enjoy livelihood support through the World Bank.
The scheme’s implementation has been marred by the lack of fairness, forceful deductions, political exploitation and haphazard releases, The ICIR discovered in a recent investigation conducted in three of the states.