Payment of outstanding Npower stipends has commenced - 22nd Dec. 2023

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Dr Better Edu (Minister of Humanitarian Affairs& Poverty Alleviation) stated this,  among other updates, in her interview at Channels Television.
LEFT: Dr. Betta Edu


Npower Outstanding Payment Confirmation: Kindly note that payment of outstanding Npower stipends has commenced.

“Presently, payment for Npower is ongoing. We were in the office yesterday till early hours of this morning at 3.00am just to ensure that young people get monies which they had been owed from the last Government.

“So Npower Beneficiaries across the Nation can attest to the fact that they have started receiving monies in their accounts, and this process will continue till the last person who indeed has served is paid".

Dr Better Edu (Minister of Humanitarian Affairs& Poverty Alleviation) stated this,  among other updates, in her interview at Channels Television.

 

Read the Full Transcript Below

There's a lot of attention on your ministry on how you spend the money at the end of the day.

 

So, are you thinking of deploying technology so that this social register, because I can't really say, okay, these are the number of people you find in the south, south, south, this and all of that.

So, first question, are you deploying technologies to make things a bit more transparent so that we can just go to the dashboard as journalists and say, oh, this is the number, and we clearly on the dashboard, if it exists, okay, fantastic. I also want to ask you, by distribution, which areas are prone to these social issues in terms of poverty by the numbers you found?

Okay, so first, I would begin by giving, I would want to call it a breaking news for young people out there who have been concerned about the end power, presently payments for empire, it's ongoing when the office, yesterday all up until early hours of this morning, 3 a.m. just to ensure that young people get money, which they have been owed from the last government.

So, empire beneficiaries across the nation, I'm sure you can attest to the fact that you've started seeing your money in your account, and this process will continue until the last person who indeed have served is being paid. And then, of course, all of this is being restructured to ensure that we can reduce unemployment and create jobs for Nigerians.

We have so far paid about 3.5 million Nigerians, 25,000 each. Of course, we are out on the field and covering another 4.5 in the next one week. So, we would have at least all together, we would have close to about 8 million people between now and the end of the year. Immediately after that, we will carry those who are on the expansion list.

Remember, he expanded to accommodate the pensioners, he expanded to accommodate the veterans, and we have gotten India data, a total of 483,000 of them are on that data set. They are presently undergoing their in-person verification because if we cannot verify who you are, where you are, and that you belong to the poverty, below the poverty line, you are not qualified to be so that social register.

It's a very rigorous process and the president is fully behind it because he wants the true people to benefit from it. But like I said, this is the biggest of its kind in the history of Africa where 15 million households will be covered by a social protection intervention.

Beyond this, we have a flat of a shelter. We've laid the foundation for shelter for the poor, internally displaced persons and refugees. We've built two samples.

 

One is a one-bedroom flat and the second one is a two-bedroom flat and the building of 40 houses for internally displaced persons have started already in Ben. As we speak right now, they are on site and we hope to complete that in three months. If I'm involved in better, if you can hear me.

The SHIP program. Yeah, if I'm involved, I'm going to give you time again to

realize some of these quick wins and successes you recorded. I know you talked about quite novel in terms of the size and the magnitude of what the government has done.

But the truth is that some people believe that President Mohammed Wari fell short according to data and the vision of lifting a hundred million people out of poverty. As a matter of fact, multi-dimensionally poor people, as you know, by the MBS data, stands at a hundred and thirty million as the last time I saw it.

And looking at what they consider the bold reforms of the president, more people are sinking in looking at how the dollar was, the dollar was devalued and the removal of first subsidy.

Now, besides what you've done, what have you, what are the ministry, what is the ministry looking at, innovatively, because I'm going to go to that register precisely in a moment.

But I want to start from another angle, innovatively, something totally different. I know you've mentioned one. Maybe you can give me like two, three more things that innovatively would change the cause of social welfare and social justice in Nigeria, because at the core of it, all of this you've mentioned, people sometimes sit at home and say, oh, she's saying they've sent this money, they've sent down money. Where are the people?

 

So what is innovatively different that you're doing that has not been done?

So first, in terms of intervention, we have innovative programs which are coming on board.

And the first one would be launched in January by Mr. President. And that's called the end hunger intervention. And it has three aspects to it. The vendors who will be preparing cooked meals,

a billion cooked meals for Nigerians every single day. We have the second aspect, which is the raw food ration. And then, of course, we have the third aspect, which is the support, the fertilizers, which are to support poor farmers, poor raw farmers to provide the food. And then, of course, this will be taken by the vendors who will prepare the food and then send them to the general public.

So it's a cycle of trying to empower people. Of course, another innovation is the shelter or the local shelter, which has already started, has been planned off in Bedway.

And the first set of 40 buildings will be ready in about two months. We have another innovation, which is the grown Nigeria. And that is to empower rural women where we'll be getting them to plant trees in support of the climate change and how we can help to avoid all the challenges that come with climate change, including the regular flooding that we're seeing in Nigeria. But at the same time, we are empowering the rural women.

We have the rural skill, vocational skills, which are started in so-called and, of course, in other places in the North and would also be flagging off in the South next year. So these are new programs, which are on board.

But again, in November, we flagged the G program, which is the market money. And that is in process right now. And then, of course, beyond that, we're able to equally carry out several other programs like the GVG, which is the grant for vulnerable groups.

What is totally different is the rigorous process through which individuals, who are beneficiaries, are being selected. We try our best to see that there's no exclusion, because sometimes when you bring up policies, it's easy to exclude the poorest of the poor.

And then beyond this, we put a lot of emphasis on women and those in rural areas. Beyond that, of course, the disability is really top on our list right now. We're doing a lot of empowerment program. Four persons who are disabled across the country. I don't know what is tricky question.

Now, the World Bank in September 2022 puts the poverty line at $2.15, I think, based on the 2020 PPP known as the purchasing power parity, replacing what was there in 2017, based on that PPP, which was a 195 benchmark. Now, you just opposed that with our 2023 December exchange rate.

I think I looked up the exchange rate. The official numbers, I think, is 906 or 9 something. And then the parallel market, of course, over 1,000.

So sometimes we used to quote this below poverty line, below poverty line of 195, 195, 195. Now, if you have 195, it looks like you're quite privileged, almost, because of the exchange rate.

So is there a way that the ministry is looking at repurposing, since you've been repurposed, redefining that so that it really captures those that are necessarily that are supposed to be in the register that are supposed to be met by these interventions of government? I don't know, you get my drift.

So some of the criteria for persons getting on the National Social Register has been actually amended in recent times, in line with the realities on ground. And we are also looking at multi-dimensional poverty.

So someone can be described to be poor, because they do not have a shelter over them. And so if you look at our interventions and our programs that we get the names from the beneficiary register, these programs are targeted at the various multi-dimensional poverty criteria.

And that's what we are using right now. We're not going with the old checklist, but we have a new checklist, which includes both employment, housing, education at the literacy level.

Of course, the amount of money is available to individuals in the household, and of course, the entire household, if they have any skills, if they're working, where they live, and amongst other indices that I used to check if they belong to the low-west quintile in society.

It's a very, very rigorous process, and the president has insisted on that process to be done, because he does not want all of these programs to hold without the right impact on the grassroots.

So we're going to dig deep into this. I'm happy you've been hammering on this rigorous process, and I deliberately am stalling to get some facts right before we get to this rigorous process, because nine years across the country and around the world are watching this particular show to find out exactly what the ministry is doing to ensure that social justice reaches everybody that needs it.

Inflation has almost increased by 6%. I think it's only 5.7% between, say, May when it was 22.4. I think the last one in November, we have it at 28.2.

Now, people are literally losing it in this country. Companies have left, some companies, big companies like GSK, Sanofi, and all of that have left.

FG's stopgap intervention appears maybe not being able, it can't cut it. How much do you think that the government can really do to cushion it, giving the positive of fund, the dead burden breaking our back vis-a-vis.

I also want to find out from you what exactly is your budget, because I think I see that it's $2.1 billion, but I stand to be corrected. What else are you looking at, because your ministry, to the best of my knowledge, may not be an income generated ministry, correct me if I'm wrong, is about a preparation to reach out to people that I need.

So, what exactly is the government thinking of beyond themselves? Through your ministry advisories, you're given to the president to say, look, this is a lot. We need to look beyond.

So, first, we are clearly drawing out a strategy to be able to get 15 million persons out of poverty within 42 months. Now, that is not just going to be only the job of my ministry to do.

There's going to be an inter-sectorial collaboration with other ministries. For instance, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, of course, they have the SMEs that the small micro, small and medium size enterprises, which, of course, the president has provided some loans, both the nano loans and other loans for persons doing small little businesses all across the nation.

Day two, in one way or the other, they are supporting to lift people out of poverty.

Government is very, very intentional. In fact, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, of course, like you know, is a man of the people and one who cares a lot about those who are poor, vulnerable, in society. And it does all within his power to see how he can really, really take off that pain from Nigeria. A few hours ago, I'm sure you heard when he said that those who will be going for the SMEs period, he would do his best to see how he can subsidize even the transportation for them to get home for SMEs and come back.

So, there are different strategies, and we are working with international partners, as well as the World Bank. All of those strategies need to take a whole lot of your time.

Today, if I want to take you through them, but what is at the back of our minds is that 50 million people will be pulled out of poverty in 42 months, and at the same time, we must have very strong inclusion criteria that do not leave anyone behind. Beyond that, we must be able to adapt to the context for which we are intervening. Those are generally guidelines that have addressed through the strategic process.

We have a strategy document with two teams. One is the humanitarian team, and the second one is the poverty validation team. And then, of course, like you know, very well, the Federal Executive Council approved recently the humanitarian and poverty elevation trust fund, which is expected to provide flexible form of financing beyond the budget that will address the needs of Nigerians.

Okay. There's a lot to go through. So, I'm going to be coming in and out to actually this question, because at the end of the day, nobody is going to reward your ministry or the federal government or President Tinubu’s, who for effort, they will reward him for results in spite of how well the intentions are. That's the truth on how things are done at the end of the day, which is why these straight questions are necessary. If I listen to you, you're saying that 42 million in about, correct me, for 2 million people in about less than four years.

Am I correct? 50 million in his first million in about less than four years. And that's 42 months about, yes, you are. Three and a half years, Abi. Yes, they're about.

Okay. So, by what parameter will you say, this 50 million people no longer live in poverty, because the intervention sometimes looks like stop gap rather than something sustainable.

I want you to correct me if I'm wrong. And I asked another question, but I maybe forgot it.

How much is your budget in the in the 2024 appropriation bill?

So, the proposal which was put before the National Assembly has all the entire humanitarian sector, which have its agencies, and then of course, the ministry. It's in the envelope of about 500 billion.

However, that's a proposal before the National Assembly. We are hopeful that when it goes through the process, the budget process, which is ongoing right now, things might look better for the budgets and of the ministry and its agencies and of course, or Nigerians by extension.

Now, I would like to take your first question again. The first question before the issue of the budget, I was saying that you had proposed, the government is proposing multi-sectorally that 50 million people be lifted out of poverty, or if it does a term you use, and you calculated it by 42 months, which is about three and a half years.

So, I'm saying that what exactly are you using as a parameter from where they are, to where this should be, and we can now see these 50 million Nigerians out of 200 million Nigerians are now out of poverty, fact.

So, thankfully, thankfully, let's last year into early this year, we had a baseline study by, of course, the National Bureau of Statistics.  That's where you have the figures which you have mentioned earlier on of persons who are living on the poverty line, who are affected by multi-dimensional poverty.

We also have the MCIC, which is another study that's clearly showed the different levels of poverty, which is present or prevalent in the country. Now, these studies that were carefully done by the country as our baseline.

We equally did a start-off on-site inspection, and of course did a kind of study too, an operational study at the level of the ministry to see exactly where we are and what we are taking off with. Now, at the end of three years, we are going to run another study which will tell us if indeed 50 million people have been pulled out of poverty.

Remember, remember, it's very important for us while we are trying to pull people out of poverty, we need to expand the National Social Safety net to ensure that people who are at borderline do not fall into the poverty while you're trying to pull some out of the poverty.

So, all of these are studies which are ongoing, some are personal, and of course some will be at the end of our interventions after the first three years to see how far we've gone and what we need to do differently. Another very important strategy which we have been thinking is the fact that we must have durable solution.

So, if somebody doesn't have shelter, it's not enough to put them into a shelter, right?  You're building a befitting building or having them build as community, befitting buildings for themselves, for their households, and at the same time you're providing livelihood and skills so that they can be able to sustain themselves when they leave in these households.

So, it's why we have the various programs and interventions where we are providing durable solutions not to one of or on the spot temporal interventions.

All right, Beth. Thank you so much. We'll get all your thoughts, Beth. We're going to go on a quick break.

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