By Chimezie Godfrey
Since its creation by President Muhammadu Buhari on August 21, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development has been living up to its mandate by providing assistance to the North-east and other parts of Nigeria through N-Power, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) and other National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP). LETS takes a look at the performance of the ministry under Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, amidst commendations.
On August 21, 2019, history was made when President Muhammadu Buhari announced the creation of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, saddling the new ministry with the responsibility of providing humanitarian needs to victims of disaster and succor to the downtrodden in the Northeast and other parts of the country, also appointing Borno-born Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq as its pioneer minister.
Two years down the line, the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development is regarded as one of the important ministries in Nigeria as a result of the regular and daily interface with the less privileged in the North-east, disaster victims in different parts of the country and ensuring the development of the country, especially with regards to the alleviation of poverty. In fact, upon its creation on August 21, 2019, a number of agencies were brought under the supervision of the ministry, including the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), North East Development Commission (NEDC), the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) and Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (OSSAP-SDGs).
Apart from the aforementioned agencies, the ministry equally oversees the activities of the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP), which were created via a Presidential Directive in 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari, aimed at achieving macroeconomic stability as a key execution priority for the Nigerian government as identified in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and have four programmes, including the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), Job Creation Unit (N-Power), Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
The importance of the ministry was particularly highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic, when it was saddled with the responsibility of distributing palliatives to Nigerians locked down at home in different states across the country.
Even the elderly or senior citizens are not left out as the ministry initiates programmes on a daily basis to ensure that millions of Nigerians, especially persons with disabilities, are lifted from poverty in the next years.
NSIPs. The National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP) is unarguably the biggest programmes handled by the ministry with almost every household in Nigeria benefiting from daily programmes of the ministry, directly or indirectly, since 2016.
The NSIP, including the NHGSFP, N-Power, CCT and GEEP, has been impacting on Nigerians in the North-east and other parts of the country and helping to reduce poverty and the high unemployment rate in the country as it involves giving it food, cash or stipends to different categories of beneficiaries.
While the GEEP provides interest-free loans to traders, market women, artisans, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as enterprising youth, farmers and agricultural workers through Trader Moni, Market Moni, and Farmer Moni, the CCT ensures bimonthly payment of N10,000 stipend to the poorest of the poor households; to help them in feeding.
As of Tuesday, September 14, 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households, comprising more than 8 million individuals, are currently benefiting from the CCT programme, while 300 billion naira had been disbursed to farmers.
On the other hand, as of June, a total of 9,196,823 pupils in classes one to three in public primary schools received one nutritious meal daily in all 54,619 schools nationwide, while 103,028 cooks, 100,000 small holder farmers and numerous aggregators and commodity transporters were engaged nationwide, to ensure increase in school enrolment, boosting of local economies and facilitating job creation.
The most popular of the NSIP is perhaps the N-power programme, where each beneficiary is paid N30, 000 on a monthly basis for two years, with some beneficiaries of Batch A and Batch B of the programme establishing businesses in their communities and more than 109,823 beneficiaries identifying themselves as business-owners before the end of 2020.
In fact, due to the successes recorded, in January, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the expansion of the NSIPs to accommodate more primary school pupils, traders, graduates, farmers, among others. As a result of the approval by President Buhari, the NHGSFP was expanded to include additional 5 million pupils, “including children in non-conventional educational settings,” the N-Power programme created jobs for one million beneficiaries, the GEEP programme provided loans to an additional one million traders, farmers and market people, while the social register was expanded to accommodate an additional one million households.
On August 23, the federal government through the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry flagged-off the N-Power Batch C programme for one million beneficiaries across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, is partnering with agencies to overcome all identifiable challenges in the NSIP. This is also part of President Buhari administration’s unwavering efforts in eradicating poverty in the country and for supporting and sustaining the National Social Investment Programme.
It is worthy to note that Mr. President recognized the creativity and impact of the NPower and has graciously approved the expansion of the programme from 500,000 to 1,000,000 beneficiaries, to enable more young people to benefit. Based on this approval, the portal was again opened in June 2020, and over 6 million new applications were received. 1,000,000 beneficiaries will be mined from this as the NPower Batch C.
The batch C is divided into 2 streams. Stream C1 of 510,000 beneficiaries and stream C2 for 490,000 beneficiaries. Under the Batch C1, a total of 450,000 have been selected to benefit under the graduate component, while 60,000 beneficiaries will be non-graduate beneficiaries.
Some innovations have been introduced into the N-Power selection and payment processes such as the creation of the National Social Investment Management Systems (NASIMS), partnership with key MDAs including the NYSC, the UBEC, the NPHCDA, the NOA to mention, but a few, with which the Ministry is leveraging to effectively implement its interventions.
To ensure that the challenges of communication is addressed, most particularly as it relates to limitations on information flow and internet access across the country and in a bid to provide accessibility to all target programme applicants and beneficiaries, the Ministry has secured the USSD short code *45665# to provide the required connectivity and technical support for the provision of information services to our beneficiaries.
The GEEP 2.0 programme launched on August 24 in Abuja will ensure that many people are lifted up from poverty. The NSIP clusters includes the NPOWER, the GEEP, the CCT and the NHGSFP, which collectively have so far impacted over 12 million households since inception and the numbers are growing.
The GEEP programme is a veritable tool designed to end poverty in many ways. In other words, GEEP targets the unbanked poor and vulnerable but skilled population that have always been left out on credit delivery programmes and is directed at providing soft and affordable loans to finance their businesses. The GEEP is innovatively targeted and delivered under three unique products. The TraderMoni for marginalized youth, The MarketMoni targets vulnerable women, and the FarmerMoni specifically focuses on rural farmers.
With Mr. President’s gracious approval for expansion to provide loans to an additional 1,000,000 beneficiaries, with emphasis to targeting small holder farmers in the year 2020/2021, the GEEP has been restructured and is being flagged-off as GEEP 2.0.
The GEEP 2.0 is structured to effectively deliver soft loans & skills to a wide range of unemployed citizens including persons living with disability, marginalized women and unemployed youth amongst other vulnerable groups in our society.
Other key features of GEEP 2.0 includes: empowering Nigerian farmers especially the rural farmers; rapid scale-up of Farmer Moni to agroprenuership to increase agricultural produce, food security and job creation; Market Moni will specially focus on under-privileged and marginalized woman in the communities.
The Trader Moni will target empowerment and uplifting under-privileged and vulnerable youth like scavengers, market wheel barrow boys, orphans and youth with special needs;
Have a nationwide reach which intends to empower farmers in rural area irrespective of gender, race or religion across all the 36 states of Nigeria; and it is anticipated also to reduce unemployment by creation of skilled jobs for the under-privileged in our society.
The GEEP 2.0 is well coordinated and has an implementation model that accommodates representation at the Federal, State and Local Government levels. Part of the new strategies include an increase in the loan portfolio of TraderMoni and Market Moni loans from N10,000.00 to N50,000.00, while the Farmer Moni is now N300,000 along with the provision of value chain and creation of digital marketplace (E-platform) for beneficiaries to sell their products.
Furthermore, a digital integration, and coordination platform along with a strong and centralized monitoring and evaluation system aimed at enhancing loans recovery. The NSIP and by extension, the GEEP currently remains the main driving force behind poverty reduction in Nigeria.
All Nigerians who are specially targeted by the NSIP and indeed the GEEP to should take advantage of all that the programme offers so that the vision of Mr. President of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 2030 will unfailingly be accomplished.
Also, on June 7, the Federal Government inaugurated the board members of the National Senior Citizens Center (NSCC), following its approval by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017 and the signing into law of the National Senior Citizens Center Act on January 26, 2018.
Ageing is a growing challenge against the background of accumulated socio-economic hardships, high absolute poverty, poor health facilities and lack of access to education over time, hence the effort of the federal government in taking care of the elderly.
Ageing is one of the critical issues placed on the front-burner of global discourse. The proportion of older persons aged 60 years and above make up 12.5% of the global population and by 2050, that proportion will rise to almost 22% in the sub-Saharan Africa alone. Ageing population has, therefore, become a global phenomenon and is growing faster in the developing economies such as Nigeria. By establishing this agency under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, it is a clear testimony by this caring and humane administration of President Muhammadu Buhari that Nigeria is not left behind.
It is in this connection that the government made conscious efforts to establish the centre to develop and Implement productive activities, social protection and work schemes for senior citizens; in order to improve the quality of life of the elderly and ensure a sense of security and a general feeling of health and worthiness extended to them. This is critical in ensuring that Nigeria achieves sustainable human development by recognising and appreciating the contributions of senior citizens in our country
Mr. President should be commended and appreciated for signing into Law the National Senior Citizens Centre Act, which has paved the way to cater for the needs of the elderly through the establishment of community based prototype systems, community safe spaces for the elderly, and leisure and day-care centres, all of which has created opportunities for the private sector to participate.”
The present administration has also approved the National Policy on Ageing, which is a working document that will drive the process of mainstreaming emerging issues of older persons and also facilitate additional laws be made to protect the rights and privileges for the ageing population in Nigeria.
Despite the avalanche of criticism against the ministry, especially by some Nigerians alleging that there is little or lack of transparency in the execution of the programmes of the ministry, apart from the provision of relief materials to disaster victims in states across the federation, testimonies abound of Nigerians being rescued from the manacles of poverty through NSIP.
In an interview with Blueprint Weekend, one of the beneficiaries, Adamu Ahmed, who hails from Adamawa state, said savings from stipends paid to him for participating in the scheme enabled him to get married.
He said: “I hail from Fufoore local government area of Adamawa State. I am a Batch B N-power beneficiary under N-Agro. I have benefited a lot from the N-power program and I remain grateful to the Federal Government for creating the program. About 500,000 youths like myself have benefited greatly from it. Part of the benefits of the N-power is the shop it helped me to establish.
“The N-power program also supported me in getting married and now I am a proud father. I am grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari, the vice president, Yemi Osibanjo and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq. I advise all N-power beneficiaries, especially the incoming Batch C, to make good use of the opportunity.”
Similarly, Hassan Mustapha Hammed, who hails from Bauchi state, told Blueprint Weekend that he was able to build a house and establish a business from stipends he saved under N-Power.
“I am an N-Power beneficiary, under N-Health in Bauchi state. I was able to achieve a lot from the stipends I was getting from the N-power programme. After we were selected, we were trained on several aspects of health. We trained on injury treatment, surgery, injections and other aspects. Because N-power has empowered me, I am now giving back to my community.
“Presently, I can boast of a stable job under health service provision, an animal farm, which I was able to achieve from the stipends. As a result of N-Power, I now have my own house in Bauchi. I got married and we are blessed with three lovely children.
“I am very grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs for lifting me and many others out of poverty,” he said.
Furthermore, Comrade Imrana Adamu, who hails from Gombe state, told Blueprint Weekend that he is now a businessman because of the opportunities afforded him by the N-Power scheme.
“I am one of the Batch A beneficiaries; since the inception of the programe in 2016 to the disengagement period in June, 2020. With the help of N-power, I was able to earn 30,000 naira monthly. However, if the federal government can give us the exit package as promised, I will add it to my medical supply business and improve my life,” he said.