The Federal Government on Thursday said that it had spent $22.216 million out of the $322 million recovered loot from the late Head of State, Sanni Abacha on various empowerment schemes.
The government said the spending is part of strategic efforts to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
It also rejected the recent report of the World Poverty Clock which identified Nigeria as the poverty capital of the world which claimed 91.6 million of the country’s about 200 million population are now extremely poor.
The government, while faulting the report, said the data and parameters used by the rating body were 2012 figures and occurrences; noting that these indicators do not reflect current economic realities as captured by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Speaking in Abuja while giving an account of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Maryam Uwais noted that the disbursement of Abacha loot commenced in 2018.
She said the disbursement did not commence on time due to the fact that the National Social Investment Office needed to sort out issues that may affect the effective implementation of the programme.
She explained that the Social Investment Programmes are anchored on four broad pillars which are the N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfers, National Home-Grown School Feeding and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes.
Uwais said that each of the schemes uniquely targets different sub-groups of Nigerians for empowerment; irrespective of religion, political affiliation and social class.
On the implementation of the N-Power programme, Uwais said 500,000 people spread across 774 Local Government Areas have been recruited to teach in public schools, act as health workers in primary health centres and as agriculture extension advisors to smallholder farmers in various communities.
“N-power is the employability and enhancement programme of the Federal Government aimed at imbibing the learn-work-entrepreneurship culture in youth between 18 and 35 for graduates and non-graduates.
“To provide a level-playing field for applicants, the application and selection process is structured to be technologically driven.
“We are also about to commence the N-Power Junior Programme which will engage pupils in 12 government primary and secondary schools to learn, as part of their school curriculum, computer programming, graphics, animation, etc. This is in a bid to develop the knowledge economy, with an eye on the future.”
On the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, Uwais said the thrust from inception had been to provide one nutritious, balanced meal for 200 school days in a year, to pupils in classes one to three in public primary schools to boost enrolment, increase the cognitive function in children and battle malnutrition.
“Nigeria is fast on its way to becoming the leader in Africa in NGHSFP by feeding over 9.7 million pupils and still counting.”
To implement the programme, she said the government requires 94 metric tons of fish, 7,260,862 eggs and 767 cattle slaughtered for the pupils being fed.
She added that fruits, vegetables and grains are part of the carefully thought-out balanced diet for all of the pupils.
With regards to the Conditional, Cash Transfer Programme, the SSA said it was designed to deliver timely and accessible cash transfers to beneficiary households, as well as build their capacities for sustainable livelihoods, through a meticulous selection process.
“The process has adopted a targeting structure that ensures only the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable are supported, with both cash, training and mentoring within the wards where the beneficiaries reside.
“Prior to the advent of this administration, a Social Register had begun being developed under the World Bank-assisted Youth Empowerment and Social Support Operation programme in the Federal Ministry of Finance.
“That Register, as at 2015, hosted about 67,000 households across 8 S/states in the country. This register was also managed using basic excel sheets.
“As at today, the NSR is currently in different stages of development across 34 States and the Federal Capital Territory with about 872,700 households representing 3,492,001 individuals captured.
“We have also enrolled 422,992 care-givers in 26 States currently, and they are being paid N10,000 every two months, and supported to ensure they save and become productive, thereby taking ownership of their lives.”
On the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, Uwais explained that the initiative seeks to provide collateral and interest-free financial support to businesses at the bottom of the financial pyramid.
She added that funds for the programme are managed by the Bank of Industry.
She said since, BoI has made 1,681,491 loans available to successful applicants in all the states and the FCT.