According to the office of the vice president, there is now a significant progress in the implementation of the Social Investment Programmes of the Buhari Presidency with the commencement of the N-Power Volunteers Corps, NPVC, and the Homegrown School Feeding Programme in the last few weeks.
Making this assertion on Monday in Abuja is the Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity in the Office of the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande.
“Right now verification exercises are going on very well across the states of the federation, regarding the 200,000 first batch of the half a million unemployed graduates being engaged to serve in their communities teaching, supporting the healthcare systems and educating farmers,” he disclosed while giving an update on the social investment programmes.
Equally, Akande explained that the Homegrown School Feeding has taken off successfully in Anambra last week, meaning there are now three states implementing the feeding programme, including Osun and Kaduna, where the state governments had kicked off the programme much earlier.
Akande also spoke about the Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT and the micro-credit schemes.
On the CCT, he disclosed that data of the beneficiaries for 9 states are now ready, adding that payment processes for those states are at top gear. Under the CCT one million vulnerable and poorest Nigerians would receive N5000 monthly.
Also on the micro-credit scheme where well over a million Nigerians would get small loans at very low rates through the Bank of Industry, the SSA said close to 10,000 market associations and cooperatives have been registered and undergoing a vetting process for that purpose.
The loans ranging from N20,000, N50,000 to N100,000 would be granted with the active collaboration of such associations and cooperatives across the country. The Pilot scheme would take off soon, he added in 8 states and the FCT.
As is the case in all the social investment spending of the FG, payments of the loans would go directly to the accounts of the beneficiaries.
“Clearly we can see that despite the considerable constraints government have faced this year in revenue projections, the Buhari presidency has remained faithful to its promises on the Social Investment plans, with the full assurance that these programmes would seamlessly dovetail into the next budget cycle.”
In the past recent weeks, Focal Persons, appointed by each state governments to coordinate with the Federal Government on the Social Investment Programmes have been conducting verification exercises in their states and reporting back on progress and challenges to the Presidency, Akande noted.
“We are in touch with the Focal Persons and top officials here in the Presidency are working round the clock with them to address issues developing from the states as they verify the 200,000 unemployed graduates,” he added.
“Let me assure all the beneficiaries of the N-Power Volunteer Corps across the country that all their concerns would be fully addressed, and that we are taking note of the progress and the challenges identified in the states.”
We are very much hopeful that all those graduates who are verified in their states and duly deployed to their primary places of assignment would get paid their N30,000 stipends this month. According to Akande “provision has been made for that.”
Reiterating the process of selection of the 200,000 graduates, Akande said “every unemployed Nigerian graduates below the ages of 35 had an equal opportunity under the N-Power, and we have seen and heard several stories of young Nigerians who have testified that they got selected without knowing anyone anywhere, but by simply applying online.”
On the Homegrown School Feeding programme, Akande disclosed that while Osun and Kaduna stated have gone ahead in the implementation, Anambra state has now joined based on FG funding, and under the current cycle over 3.4m primary school pupils would benefit across the country.
“We have plans to scale-up the Homegrown School Feeding Programme very soon so that we can increase as soon as possible, the number of states implementing the feeding to at least 11 of the 18 states designed for this cycle.”
The 11 states are are Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Enugu, Sokoto, Kaduna, Borno, Zamfara, Ogun, Oyo, and Osun.
Also the Federal Government has successfully conducted food safety and hygiene training for over 25,000 cooks in 9 of those states already.
On reports that there are instances where beneficiaries of the Social Investment Programmes are being asked to pay fees to benefit, the SSA restated that “no one should have to pay any fees to benefit in the N-Power or the Homegrown School Feeding programmes, and any such imposition or request for fees is uncalled for and illegal.
He added that reports of such acts of extortion where beneficiaries are being asked to pay a ‘fee for registration’ have reached the Presidency, and firm instructions have been given that such acts should stop.
Akande assured beneficiaries of the CCT and the micro-credit to be a little more patient, as their programmes would commence soon, and also urged unemployed graduates who did not make the first 200,000 to await further developments, especially in the forthcoming new year.