Nigerian government spends N41bn on Social Investment Programme

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

The Presidency has said that as at the end of last month, the Buhari administration has spent a total sum of N41billion across all the 36 states and FCT implementing different aspects of the four Social Investment Programmes.

This was stated in a release from the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Office of the Vice-President, Mr. Laolu Akande.

He said over a million Nigerians are now beneficiaries, including, 57,234 interest free loans given to artisans and traders even as Acting President has ordered urgent expansion of the programme to reach significantly more beneficiaries soon.

According to him the Nigerian government has served no less than 25 million meals under the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme, which is an integral part of the Buhari administration’s Social Investment Programme.

Breakdown

A breakdown of the total number of meals served shows that 1,051, 619 million primary school pupils are now being fed across the seven states of Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, and Zamfara state.

No less than 11,847 cooks have also been employed in a total of 8,587 schools  involved in the states.

“Indeed possibly, later in the week, more meals will be served as Delta and Abia States are now ready to be paid under the federal government school feeding scheme,” Akande said in the release, adding that “Delta State is expected to receive soon, a sum of N63, 366, 100 to start the feeding of 90, 523 primary school pupils.”

Abia State is also expected to receive  N42, 921, 200 while Kaduna State has been repaid N3.4B for its past expenses implementing the food programme ahead of FG’s roll-out.

In a breakdown of the over N41B so far spent on the SIPs, N-Power, which is the job programme for unemployed graduates has received N26.418 billion, being the single largest spending item out of the four social investment programmes under the 2016 Appropriation.

According to him, besides N-Power, actual released funding for the other 3 programmes, apart from other expenses, so far, were as follows:

*Home Grown School Feeding (HGSFP) –      N7.092 billion

* Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT)           –        N800 million

* Government Enterprises Entrepreneurship Programme (GEEP)  –    N7.301 billion

“The Acting President,  who received the SIP Update Report recently,  noted the progress made under each of the programmes, but gave express and urgent directives that the programmes be promptly expanded in coverage so that more Nigerians can start to benefit,” he stated.

A comprehensive SIP implementation analysis also shows that every local government area, every state and the FCT have beneficiaries in one of the four programmes, while some states are already benefiting in more than one.

For instance, under the N-Power job scheme for unemployed graduates now running in 36 States and FCT, 162,024 unemployed graduates have been effectively enrolled and validated-meaning have been cleared to be receiving the N30,000 monthly stipends, out of the 200,000 originally engaged late last year.

A vast majority of the validated beneficiaries have been receiving stipends as at 31st March, 2017 while an additional number has just been added to the list of those receiving their pay in the last several weeks.

However, effort is being made to validate others and ensure that the 200,000 places provided for in the first batch of the N-Power programme are all effectively validated as provided for under the first phase of the programme.

A date for the engagement of more N-power beneficiaries and the reopening of the portal to receive more applications would be announced soon.

Meanwhile, under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme, 26,942 beneficiaries are now being funded as at last month with the monthly N5,000 stipend in nine States and 84 Local Government Areas.

The States are Borno, Cross River, Niger, Kwara, Ekiti, Kogi, Oyo, Osun and Bauchi.

Based on the recent directive of the Acting President, the number is expected to add up to about 400,000 beneficiaries,  in more States, soon.

Also the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme (GEEP), designed for the empowerment of market women, traders, artisans and others, has also recorded good progress with the disbursement of 57,234 interest free loans, except a one-time low administrative fee.

GEEP which is designed for well over one million Nigerians has now registered 3,162,451 people who have showed interest and are members of 26, 924 registered cooperatives for purposes of the loans.

So far, women participation has been remarkable with 56% of loans so far disbursed to women beneficiaries in 28 States and FCT.

Directives have also been given to scale up the loan disbursement to 150,000 by end of next month.

 Omolayo.A