By Funmi Olasupo
ABUJA – THE Federal Government yesterday, disclosed that the earlier appropriated N500 billion poverty alleviation fund would be scaled down as the nation continues to groan and grind under recession.
The Special Adviser to President on Social Investments, Maryam Uwais, explained that in view of the present economic challenge at the moment prompted the decision to scale down the fund.
Uwais who stated this at the Civil Society Information Dissemination On Monitoring Federal Government Social Protection Programme, SPP, on SDGs said it became necessary as revenue generation has dwindled as well compared to when the programme started.
However, she did not mention the amount that would be used to fund the programme, rather said it will be determined by the Ministry of Finance.
She said: “We have budgetary constrain so we have to scale down the fund and this depends on what the Ministry of Finance gives us but clearly the government is not getting the revenue it expects to get.
“Although money was yet to be released for the program but we have being developing framework for the implementation of the project. The cash transfer program was about to start in nine states of the federation as they are about compiling the register of poor people in the states.
“Therefore, we will have to scale down because there are disbursement, it depends on Ministry of Finance, whatever they give us is what we will use but clearly government is not getting the revenue it expected to get.”
According to her the special intervention project was designed for delivery under five defined programmes, which include N-Power, Home Grown School Feeding, Cash transfers, Enterprise and Empowerment, and Stem Bursary Programmes.
She maintained that the school feeding programme has kicked-off, but will engage Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, for effective monitoring of the programme.
“We are developing a comprehensive register of vulnerable people in the society so we want to engage the CSOs to ensure that the register is authentic and realisable.
“Nigerians are different we were worried about our programme being politicised, so we want to make sure that our programme reach every Nigerian irrespective of political admiration or irrespective of ethnicity or culture.
Also speaking, the ActionAid Country Director, Ojobo Atulukwu, said informed citizen action was the missing ingredient for a workable solution to many of the country’s development challenges.
According to her, the obstacles caused by conflicting economy policies are crystal politics which causes unmanageable tension and creating new vulnerabilities in Nigeria.
“The equilibrium as we use to know it is no more and the new point of equilibrium is untested and unknown. This Social Protection Programme is expected to create and cushion for protection of the most excluded people of the society, while Nigeria grew as an economy, the people became poorer.
“This meeting however, is a sign of the due process adopted by the National Social Investment Office of the SDGs whereby process adopted shows clearly the people’s act leading this process. Accountability is not only about the result is also about the process.” Atulukwu said.