by Usman Alabi
The federal government has released the sum of N25 billion or five percent of the N500 billion earmarked for social intervention programmes.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed disclosed this while briefing newsmen at the end of the meeting of the Federal Executive Council, yesterday in Abuja. She also said an additional N40 billion is about to be released for the programme which has just kick-started
“We have approval from the steering committee in sum of N150 billion.
“So far N25 billion has been released into the account and there is another N40 billion that is in the process of being released into the account,” she said.
You would recall that the 2016 budget contains a N500 billion for social intervention programmes, but the President has asked that the National Assembly approve N180 billion of that sum to be diverted to other projects.
One of the intervention programme put in place by the government is the school feeding programme and payment of N5, 000 monthly to vulnerable persons, which the president early this year made a u-turn on.
According to the Minister, the government is rolling out the first four programmes which will continue till 2017. She said the programmes are in four parts, the first being the home-grown school feeding programme which is targeting 5.5 million primary school pupils in all the states of the federation from primary 1 to 3. According to her, while the federal government will be responsible for primary 1 to 3 pupils, the states will take charge of primary 4 to 6. “As at today, 11 states are fully ready to start and first phase will feed 3.5 million school children”, she said.
The second programme would be on job creation which aims at preparing 500,000 university graduates who will be equipped with devices containing information to train them as teachers, agricultural workers and also as health support workers. They would then be subsequently deployed to work in their local communities; they would also be receiving a monthly stipend of N30, 000 for a period of two years.
The third is the Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT, where one million care givers will be given N5000 monthly over a period of two years.
“Focus has been given to the extremely poor and vulnerable in our society and special emphasis is being placed to providing as many as possible in the north-eastern part of the country where we have a lot of internally displaced persons,” she said.
The fourth according to her is the enterprise promotion programme (EIP) which is essentially a loan scheme that will be handled by the Bank of Industry, BOI. She said 1.6 million people including market women, traders, artisans, small businesses and youth will be given loans ranging from N10, 000 to N100, 000 with a repayment period of three to six months and administration cost of five percent.
Mrs. Ahmed however noted that no payments have been made to anyone on any of the programmes yet.
She said “There is no spending yet on the national social investment programme, we are just kicking off. The funds will be released to the Bank of Industry this week for the EIP programme and for the school feeding programme. It is only after the cooks have performed that they will get their first payment,”
The federal government is said to have budgeted N500 billion in the 2017 spending plan to sustain the programme
Perhaps, this is strategic and timely given the fact of a recession that is biting hard on the people, what do you think about these programmes, do you think they can effectively address the socioeconomic challenges Nigerians are going through, maybe it is not bad to start this way. But whichever way we would continue to track this programmes and keep you updated.
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