COVID-19: Bad news for those expecting N20,000 alert

Dear Buhari, the lockdown is not only for some people.

Monday, April 6, 2020

/ by National Pivot

"I think what keeps me up at night has to do with extreme poverty; the issue is that the largest number of those who vote for us are the very poor.

"The promises that government makes to them is that their lives will be better and obviously they are looking at their lives being better in the shortest possible time.

"I will like to see Nigeria being an industrialised nation in the next 10 years; a very strong middle class and most people living above poverty line."

These were the words of vice president Yemi Osinbajo while speaking at a dinner and interactive session with faculty members of the Harvard Business School (HBS) in Lagos on Tuesday, June 18, 2019.

In 2018, Nigeria overtook India as the nation with the highest number of people living in extreme poverty across the world. According to available data from World Poverty Clock, a web tool produced by World Data Lab, an estimated 93.8 million Nigerians are measured to be living on less than $1.90 a day as of June 2019. But the stat is a bit more generous since in reality, millions of Nigerians hardly feed in a day.

And now thanks to the current covid-19 pandemic sweeping across the world, its hard to imagine what these same millions of poor Nigerians are passing through, hence the demand for welfare packages to alleviate the sufferings.

In Kaduna State where food items was provided by the State government, the fear of covid-19 could not stop people from falling on each other as they cue to have a share of the items being distributed. Yes, this is how bad the situation is, but is far from reflecting the real situation in many areas across the state and other parts of the country.

Nigerians are hungry! That's a fact. However, it does seem the Buhari administration even in the mist of a deadly pandemic and hunger crisis, still lacks empathy for its suffering citizens.

There has been reports of the Buhari administration making provisions of billions of Naira and directed that N20,000 be paid to each vulnerable household through the social investment scheme to cushion the impact of the lockdown, yet nothing positive came out it. Questions on how the said funds were distributed, the criteria used to determine recipients, and how many people benefited from the relief funds, continues to dominate conversation.

As call for transparency continues to mount, the National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO) said that only one million vulnerable Nigerian households on the National Social Register (NSR) would get the N20,000 palliative.

According to The Guardian, National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO) via its National coordinator, Lonwa Apera, said the National Transfer cash Office (NCTO) had worked with various state governors to develop the NSR of poor and vulnerable people in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) besides Ogun State.

Apera disclosed that the government was using the register to reach the poor with the cash transfer, and targets between 1 to 4 million households by June 2020.

Still, the target number of households is a far cry to the actual number of poor households in the country. This would mean only a few people would benefit from the funds meant to provide succor to poverty riden families across the country.

Nigerians would still want to know the criteria used by NCTO to determine who qualifies for the palliatives since not only 4 million householdd are affected by the lockdown.

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