Stipend for poor Nigerians causes disaffection in APC
• APC, lawmaker laud scheme • It is propaganda, says Fayose
The payment of N5000 stipend to the poorest and most vulnerable in the country by the Federal Government is already causing disaffection in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Besides, mixed reactions have started trailing the government’s introduction of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) through which the payments are being effected.
It was learnt in Abuja yesterday that the APC is of the opinion that it should be the one to implement the programme through the CCT, a position to which the office of the vice president is vehemently opposed.
A source told The Guardian: “There is a struggle between the office of the vice president and the hierarchy of the party on one hand and members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s kitchen cabinet on the other. The party is of the opinion that the conditional cash transfer should be implemented through them. They think that will enable them to reward those that worked for the victory of the party.
“But the argument from the office of the vice president is that the programme is for all Nigerians and not for APC members alone. That is why the coordinator, Mrs. Mariam Uwais, decided to use inter-bank platform for the payment of the beneficiaries so that it reaches them directly. Indeed, the move to involve the President has not yielded any result as Buhari believes that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo should supervise the implementation.”
When the argument to channel the programme through the APC at the state level did not yield the desired result, the APC observed that it would be difficult to implement the scheme in non-APC states and that it was only sensible for the party to take charge in such states.
On how the beneficiaries were chosen, the source explained: “There are over one million applications received with more than 49,000 coming from River State. When applications are received, checks are carried out up to the local communities of the applicants to ascertain the authenticity. Not only that, the payment of the stipend directly into the bank account of the beneficiaries also ensures that the money gets to them directly, which makes it difficult for party men at the state level to hijack the process.”
Apart from the fight the APC is putting up with the office of the vice president on the implementation of the CCT, the party is also fighting to take control of the Graduate Employment Scheme (GES).
It was gathered that the Federal Government plans to hands off the scheme as well as the school feeding programme in the next two years for state governments to sustain them. The argument from the office of the vice president therefore is that sustenance of the programmes will be difficult if they are implemented through the party.
According to the source, Uwais had gone to Brazil to understudy how conditional cash transfer was implemented under former Brazilian President, Lula Da Silva.Some Nigerians are seeking to know how the programme gets to register the ‘poorest of the poor’; where they are located; and what government agency registers them.
And in answering one of the questions, the Presidency yesterday said it relied on the World Bank model to select the beneficiaries.Fielding questions from The Guardian, Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande explained that the World Bank had already developed a social register in eight states before May 29, 2015 which the Buhari administration adopted in order to implement the programme.
“We are working with the World Bank model, and they are advanced with the work plan. The programme was being implemented in eight states and we just added Borno to it,” Akande said.
He dismissed allegation of disparity in the selection process, saying that no state would be left out in the social investment programme.“No state has been alienated, eventually the programme is going to go through the entire country. The first set of nine states that we used composed of eight states that had developed the social register with the World Bank already.
“Even before President Buhari came in, a number of states had been working with the global bank to develop a social register of what is called the poorest and the most vulnerable in their states.
“The world bank also has its own poverty alleviation programme that uses that kind of social register. We added Borno because of the high level of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) there. And all those IDPS that are going to be put on the programme have been put on bio-metrics and have been identified by the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS).”
Among those who reacted to the introduction of the CCT yesterday are Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, APC and a lawmaker representing Obokun Constituency in Osun State, Olatunbosun Oyintiloye.
Fayose described the programme as a mere propaganda and advised the Buhari’s administration to stop running government and governance on propaganda. “A blind man will say it is when it gets into my mouth that I will say you are feeding me, not promises.”
In a statement yesterday in Ado-Ekiti by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Idowu Adelusi, the governor said there was no evidence of the payment in his state, which is one of the places the Federal Government claimed the exercise had started.
He said the states they claimed had started receiving the payment were apparently APC-controlled states, knowing that the governors cannot come out to disprove the payment.
According to Fayose, the APC government led by President Buhari should come to the reality that Nigerians are hungry and also angry and that the citizens are no longer interested in empty promises.
Fayose challenged the APC and Federal Government to publish the number of people receiving the stipend and the accounts of those receiving.
He alleged that the economic policy of the Federal Government ahead of the 2019 elections was on how to entrench themselves in power and not on the welfare of Nigerians.He condemned the N2billion voted for entertainment alone in the Villa in the 2017 budget.
He said he was paying over 10,000 poor people the social security package in Ekiti State without any delay and procrastination in the last one year and urged the Federal Government to follow suite.
He claimed that the “Federal Government’s N5,000 payment to the poor was designed in a way that the state governors are also involved because they are to clear and present prospective beneficiaries before payments are made.”
But the APC commended President Buhari’s administration for fulfilling the promise the party made to Nigerians during the 2015 general election campaigns that safety nets would be provided to the vulnerable Nigerians.
The party, in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, noted that with the commencement of payment of N5000 to one million poor Nigerians, the Buhari’s administration had demonstrated its commitment to the party’s change manifestoes which is couched on true transformation.
“We recall that as part of its Social Investment Programme (SIP), the government has begun implementing three other major campaign promises of the party designed to provide jobs and lift the most vulnerable Nigerians out of poverty.
“These include: the N-Power Volunteer Corps which will provide jobs to 500,000 young Nigerian graduates; the National Homegrown Feeding Programme which has commenced in selected states, and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, (GEEP), which provides soft loans ranging from N10,000 to 100,000 to
artisans, traders, market women, among others.”
Also, Oyintiloye described the programmes as a catalyst for the economy.The lawmaker who made the submission during a chat with newsmen said 2017 held enormous promise for Nigerians, “not only that the President is living up to its campaign promises but implementing policies that will have direct impact in the life of the common man and the most vulnerable.”
In a statement, he noted that the payment of N5, 000 monthly to a million people will make several thousands of Nigerian youths to be paid N30,000.
While lauding the procedures for data collection and disbursement of the fund especially, in the states where the programmes had taken off, Oyintiloye said NIBSS – the platform that hosts and validates payments for all government’s social intervention programmes, would boost the transparency of the process and openness of the Federal Government initiatives.
Oyintiloye called for effective monitoring of the programmes in such a way that the goal to empower Nigerians and bring them out of economic doldrums will not be jeopardized.
The Oyo State government yesterday disclosed that it was yet to access the fund.
An official of the Ministry of Finance who spoke with The Guardian on condition of anonymity said the state read it in the papers and was eagerly awaiting the money.
A source in the Ekiti State branch of the APC, however, disclosed that the money was being released in tranches and the beneficiaries would soon receive alert of money paid into their accounts.