Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) has revealed that the federal government has paid the sum of N630,008,000,000 being backlog of conditional cash transfer to 62,302 vulnerable Nigerians in Edo, Enugu, Kebbi, and Ondo states.
The Executive Director of ANEEJ, Mr. David Ugolor disclosed this yesterday, while addressing a press conference in Abuja. He explained that about 1.9 million Nigerians benefited from the scheme.
In December 2017, Switzerland had returned $322.5 million stolen by late General Sani Abacha to the federal government. The Ministry of Finance had requested that the funds be used to finance the $500 million National Social Safety Net Program (NASSP) in the form of Conditional Cash Transfers to poor and vulnerable Nigerians.
Ugolor said in 2018, ANEEJ commenced the monitoring exercise under the Monitoring of Recovered Assets in Nigeria through Transparency and Accountability (MANTRA) project, while engaging 35 civil society organisations and over 500 monitors for the exercise in six geopolitical zones of the country.
He explained that conditional cash transfer to vulnerable Nigerians was stalled for two years in Edo, Enugu, Kebbi, and Ondo, due to technical issues.
The Executive Director noted that the exercise produced the first disbursement report of the $322.5 million covering the August/September 2018 payment round to beneficiaries in 19 States.
Ugolor stated: “Four states: Edo, Enugu, Kebbi, and Ondo were left out of payment since 2019 owing to technical issues. ANEEJ and its partners advocated for the resolution of the issues.
“Reprieve came the way of beneficiaries of the National Cash Transfer Programme in Edo, Ondo, Enugu and Kebbi States where payment has been stalled, as beneficiaries trooped out to receive their payment in designated centres across the four States.”
Ugolor noted that the exercise started with screening of the beneficiaries on the 19th April 2022 at Kokani Ward in Jega Local Government Area of Kebbi State, while the payment to the beneficiaries commenced on Monday afternoon, 25th April 2022.
He explained that a total of N1,920,000,000 was disbursed to 46,780 beneficiaries across six local government areas in the state.
The Executive Director stressed that in Ondo State, the payment commenced on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at Oba-lle Ward in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State, adding that a total of N120,544,000 was disbursed to 3,673 beneficiaries in six LGAs across the state.
Ugolor said in Edo State, pre-disbursement meeting was held on 19th of April 2022, while payment to beneficiaries began on Friday 29 April 2022 at Oredo LGA, Benin City.
“A total of N360, 704,000 was disbursed to 8,705 beneficiaries in 5 LGAS across the State, while payment was not done in Etsako Central LGA, one of the benefiting LGAs in the state.
“We didn’t know the reason why they didn’t pay that local government. We are following up. This press briefing is part of raising awareness. The delay of those four states was a result of Payment Service Provider (PSP) not able to reconcile the data of beneficiaries.”
Ugolor further explained that on May 4, 2022, payment eventually commenced at Owo Development Centre, Nkanu East LGA in Enugu State at 2.30pm, while a total sum of N129,560,000 was disbursed to 3,144 beneficiaries in five LGAs across the state.
He said the exercise was conducted in the designated centres between May 4th and 27th, 2022 in Enugu State.
Ugolor said in Kebbi, Ondo and Edo States, beneficiaries were paid backlogs covering eight months — January 2020-August 2020, saying each beneficiary received the sum of N40,000; while, the beneficiaries in Enugu State received the sum of N50,000 covering the backlogs for 10 months – January 2020-October 2020.