Maryam Uwais

The federal government yesterday disclosed that it had spent about N300 billion on the National Social Investment Programmes in the last three years.

The Presidential Adviser on National Social Welfare Programme, Maryam Uwais, stated this in Abuja during a joint oversight visit by the Senate and the House of Representatives Committees on Poverty Alleviation.

The delegation was led by the Chairmen of the committee in the two chambers, Senator Lawal Gumau and Hon. Mohammed Wudil respectively.

The presidency said the social investment programmes since inception in 2016, is aimed at improving the living conditions of Nigerians through capacity building, investment and direct support.

According to Uwais, “So far, we have over 11.5 million direct beneficiaries on all our programmes. We also have about nine million indirect beneficiaries. Right now, we have over 700,000 people on the National Social Register, but the people we are paying under the Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme are about 300,000.

“This is because we select only the poorest of the poor in every community, and every payment is done through their bank account, so we are able to track every kobo spent.’’

On the school feeding programme, she said the programme was currently feeding over 9.5 million pupils in 30 states and has empowered 101,000 cooks.

She said: “We are feeding over 9.5 million children in about 56,000 schools around the country. The value chain in the school feeding programme is just amazing. Not only are the children coming back to school, we are seeing that they are more alert in class and absolutely happy to come to school.

“We are also seeing that farmers are smiling to the banks. This is because we need at least seven million eggs every week, over 600 cattle, 83 metric tonnes of fish and lots of fruits and vegetables.’’

Uwais further explained that through the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), the federal government is providing financial support to businesses at the bottom of the financial pyramid, mentioning Tradermoni, Farmermoni, and Marketmoni as the programmes being executed under GEEP.

She said: “Tradermoni was created specifically for petty traders and artisans across Nigeria. With Tradermoni, you can receive interest-free loan starting from N10,000 and growing all the way to N100,000 as you pay back.’’

The presidential adviser mentioned the delivery of social benefits as one of the challenges affecting the scheme, saying adequate funding remained a major setback.

According to her, ‘’We don’t get our full funding, only about 25 per cent of our funds have been released, so we have to find ways and means to be cost effective about our spending.’’

The Chairman, House Committee on Poverty Alleviation, Wudil, who spoke on behalf of the lawmakers, said the visit would help the committees in making informed decisions concerning budgetary allocations to the programmes as proposed in the 2019 budget.

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