The Nigerian Senate in July approved Mr Tinubu’s request for $800 million borrowing from the World Bank to scale up the National Safety Net Programme.
In his Independence Day speech on Sunday, the President said the programme will commence in October, as part of his administration’s plan to reduce poverty.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, recently announced that the federal government plans to cover no fewer than 15 million households under the project tagged “Conditional Cash Transfer” (CCT).
The minister stated this during her visit to Maiduguri, Borno State capital, emphasising that the initiative is a strategic effort to empower individuals and families.
The CCT programme was introduced by former President Muhammadu Buhari as part of his administration’s 2016 Social Intervention Scheme to reduce poverty in Nigeria.
The country’s Senate in July approved Mr Tinubu’s request for $800 million borrowing from the World Bank to scale up the National Safety Net Programme.
The president assured that with the loan, the sum of N8,000 would be transferred monthly to the bank accounts of 12 million poor and low-income households for six months.
As of November 2022, under Mr Buhari’s administration, the National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO) said the number of beneficiaries of the CCT has reached about two million.
The interim head of NCTO, Ibrahim Adam, explained at a conference that the agency targeted and enrolled beneficiaries from the rural areas across 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He said the programme was so far able to reach 609 local governments, 6,272 wards and 48,789 communities.
Under the CCT, beneficiaries receive a monthly payment of N5,000 from the government while some households receive an additional N10,000 based on other conditions relating to pregnancy and school children.
However, there have been disputes over the transparency of the programme as the number of Nigerians living in poverty has increased, from 40.1 per cent in 2015 to 45 per cent in 2023, according to Policy Vault.
Social register integrity
In July, the National Economic Council (NEC) resolved not to use the social register used by the Mr Buhari-led administration to implement its conditional cash transfer. Many Nigerians including the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) had criticised the authenticity of the register, querying how the most vulnerable households are identified in the social register.
The council said the register was replete with integrity issues and described the criteria for its compilation as vague.
According to the NEC, contrary to what the previous administration projected, it is not possible to digitally transfer money to the poorest of the poor, the majority of whom are unbankable.
NEC resolved that states would come up with their registers, using formal and informal means to develop them, assuring that all beneficiaries at the sub-national level would easily be accessed this way.
Meanwhile, Mr Tinubu in his broadcast also noted that to ensure better grassroots development, the government has set up an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas.
He added that states have already received funds to provide relief packages against the impact of rising food costs and prices of other items.
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The President also disclosed plans to lower transportation costs through the provision of buses using Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).
He said: “We have opened a new chapter in public transportation through the deployment of cheaper, safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses across the nation.
“These buses will operate at a fraction of current fuel prices, positively affecting transport fares.”
He noted that the new CNG conversion kits will start coming in very soon “as all hands are on deck to fast-track the usually lengthy procurement process.”
“We are also setting up training facilities and workshops across the nation to train and provide new opportunities for transport operators and entrepreneurs,” he said.
Mr Tinubu concluded with a promise to remain “committed and serve faithfully.”
“I also invite all to join this enterprise to remake our beloved nation into its better self. We can do it. We must do it. We shall do it,” he said.