Humanitarian ministry: Reaching the needy through people-focused programmes

In line with its mandate and in fulfillment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s policy of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development has continued to implement impactful programmes that have trickle down effects on the ordinary Nigerians. BENJAMIN SAMSON writes.

One of the programmes of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development is the National Social Investment Programme. Established as a vehicle to tackle poverty and hunger in Nigeria, NSIP is like a tree with many useful branches. Some of the people-centred programmes under the NSIP include N-Power, the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) and the Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programmes.

While the N-power is designed to assist young Nigerians between the ages of 18-35 through monthly stipends, the Conditional Cash Transfer  is focused on supporting those within the lowest poverty bracket in improving nutritional consumption and elevating the standard of living of the vulnerable through cash transfer. The Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme  targets traders, artisans, farmers, youth and women  through loan, and Home Grown School Feeding Programme is designed to reach children from vulnerable families through feeding in in order to increase school enrollment, reduce incidence of malnutrition as well as empower women  and small holder farmers especially in rural communities in Nigeria.

Each of the NSIP programmes has continued to impact on the lives and livelihood of poor and vulnerable Nigerians. For instance, the N-power is considered one of the strategic programs that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration  has put in place to lift 100million Nigerians out of poverty.

With the determined efforts of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, in implementing the presidential directive to the latter, the N-power has become a household name cutting across all the 774 LGAs in the 36 states and the FCT.

Only recently, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs Disaster Management and Social Development launched the N-Power Batch C programme on the National Social Investment Management System (NASIMS), applicants of the N-Power Programme were requested to update their personal information and subsequently, take an online test via the NASIMS Portal.

Within a short period of the launching, over 1.8 million Nigerians successfully updated their records and took the compulsory online test. Further screening was undertaken and a short-list of 550,000 applicants qualified for the final selection to engage 500,000 nationwide to serve as the first stream of the N-Power Batch C programme. In line with Mr President’s directive, the batch has been further divided into Batch C1 and Batch C2 in order to meet up 1,000,000 beneficiaries under the Batch C.

So far, the 550,000 short-listed applicants have been individually contacted via their e-mail addresses provided and are first advised to check and then immediately log on to the NASIMS self-service portal and enroll their biometric data to qualify for the final selection.

Speaking on NSIP programmes recently, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, said: “ We are determined to continue to implement the directive given by President Muhammadu Buhari to lift 100 million people out of poverty in Nigeria.

“We will implement all the programmes under the NSIP-N-Power, CCT, HGSF and GEEP for the benefit of vulnerable and poor Nigeria. We will also ensure that the programmes reach the targeted beneficiaries.

“I am pleased to inform you that based on the presidential directive, the ministry has commenced full implementation  of Batch C1 of N-Power 500,000 beneficiaries nationwide to serve as the first stream of the N-power Batch C programme. In line with Mr President’s directive, the batch has been further divided into Batch C1 and Batch C2 in order to meet up 1,000,000 beneficiaries under the Batch C.”

I am also pleased to inform you that the ministry has recommenced the National Home-Grown School Feeding programme. A total of 9,196,823 pupils in classes one to three in public primary schools will receive one nutritious meal daily in all 54,619 schools nationwide.

“The programme is being expanded to accommodate an additional five million children in line with the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The outcomes of this programme includes increase in school enrolment, improved nutrition for benefiting pupils, boosting of local economies and facilitating job creation through the activities of 103,028 cooks, 100,000 small holder farmers and numerous aggregators and commodity transporters engaged nationwide.”

Also speaking on the impact of NSIP programmes generally and the trickledown effects, Group Captain SG Shehu (retd.) said: “There are both Direct and Indirect beneficiaries of the 4 packets of the NSIP comprising the 18-24 month NPOWER, the bimonthly Conditional Cash Transfer, the daily National Home Grown School Feeding Program and Enterprise and Entrepreneurship scheme.

“Direct beneficiaries are those who applied and were successful to be on the registers. But they are not the only ones in need. So the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, introduced another layer that will capture more indirect beneficiaries through a trickledown effect. Apart from cooks, butchers, farmers and poultry owners another set of indirect beneficiaries are the independent monitors. These are young men and women selected from every community and LGA to monitor and evaluate the NSIP programmes through physical visits. They are paid a stipend of N30000 a month for an initial engagement of one year.

“I was in both Borno and Yobe states to lead the team that distributed engagement letters and tablets to the independent monitors. The same thing is happening in all states. Apart from the monthly stipend these youths gain practical skills in Monitoring and Evaluation, a very marketable and well sought after skill in the public, private and NGO sectors. And with respect for some of the beneficiaries this is the first time they are getting acquainted with a lap top of their own.

Below are some of the pictures from Borno and Yobe states.”

Hence, the multiplier effect is that not only the beneficiaries of the programme but their dependents also in the long run have one or two things to gain remotely from the programme thus enhancing their economic status. Each N-POWER household has a minimum of 4 dependents.

This cumulatively means that at least four million people will be uplifted considering the expansion granted by Mr. President to accommodate one million beneficiaries in the programme.

The ministry has encouraged the youth to a savings culture knowing fully well that this is an intervention programme with a clear and definite time frame. Within this period, beneficiaries can make savings for their exit.

From their savings some of them have gone on to start businesses even as others have created cooperatives and are able to access loans for business start-ups and/or to boost their businesses.

The period in which the beneficiaries are engaged provides opportunities for hands-on training, thus equipping them with the relevant skills required to enable them to secure permanent jobs or start up their businesses.

The measures put in place to ensure success of the programme are all- inclusive, ranging from the deployment of independent monitors and other relevant regulatory authorities such as the service providers that are partners in the programme. Each acts as a check in ensuring that the programme achieves its target. The ministry also partners with security and anti corruption agencies to ensure that truancy and recklessness is reduced to the barest minimum.

As the first and largest post-tertiary employment opportunities in Africa’s history, there is no doubt that the N-power programme is catalytic and is, therefore, touching the lives of the vulnerable group positively across the country.

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