The National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO), on Monday, said that 224 communities in Kuje Area Council of the FCT had benefited from the Federal Government’s conditional cash transfer in the last quarter of 2019.
Ms Binta Isah-ismail, Head of Operations, NCTO cash Transfer Unit Programme, made this known on behalf of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Social Investment, Maryam Uwais, in Abuja,
Uwais told a delegation led by the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), tasked with monitoring distribution of cash to beneficiaries, that the process was made open as a sign of transparency to mark the world anti-corruption day.
“We are marking the world anti-corruption day; for us at NCTO, this is a message that the recovered funds from the Abacha loot are being utilised to eradicate poverty among Nigerians.
“Kuje is one of the councils in Abuja that we are currently paying. We have more than 8,000 beneficiaries; we are covering three Area Councils of Abaji , Kwali and Kuje. In Kuje, we have cumulatively over 224 communities that are benefitting.
“The modality has been a very transparent process; the beneficiaries you are seeing are from the national register from where we target the people that contextualise what poverty is.
“We pay N10,000 per beneficiary for each payment circle which is usually every two months. That means every month a beneficiary is entitled to N5,000; so today, they received N10,000 which is for two months,” she said.
Earlier, Rev. David Ugolor, Executive Director, ANEEJ, had said that the group was the facilitator of the project focusing on Monitoring Asset Recovery in Nigeria through Transparency and Accountability (MANTRA project), funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) .
“We are using the International Anti-corruption Day to send a strong signal to highlight the benefit of getting assets returned to Nigeria.
“As you can see, the poorest of the poor are the ones benefitting and for us it is remarkable and it reminds us of the Sustainable Development Goal 16 where the whole world agreed to use recovered assets to finance sustainable development.
“This sends a strong signal that it is not business as usual; that if people steal public money, it can be recovered and returned to the poor,’’ he said.
Ugolor said he was satisfied with the process of distribution, adding that the cash transfer gave the poor the opportunity to benefit directly from the government since they were the victims of corruption.
He, however, said that the group observed some challenges in its second field monitoring of the project which it would compile and send to the federal government to address them properly, to help in strengthening the system.
Ms Sonia warner, UK DFID’s Senior Governance Adviser responsible for anti-corruption in Nigeria, said that the MANTRA project was being supported to ensure that citizens benefited from looted funds.
Warner said that so far, the money was being put to good use, with beneficiaries confirming that they were using it for business, school fees and for basic home needs.
She said that the UK government would continue to work with the federal government to recover more loot.
Dr Luka Ayuba, Head, FCT State Cash Transfer, said that the process of selection started at the community level where state operation coordinating units in collaboration with community volunteers selected poor households.
Ayuba said that the list was then transferred to the national level where it was entered into the register then sent back to the state cash transfer unit for field data capturing and enrolment.
“This payment point has about 426 beneficiaries, but in the whole of Kuje Area council, 2,426 beneficiaries will be paid 10,000 each,” he said
Mr Ndaman Dantanni, a beneficiary, commended the government for the initiative, adding that he formed a cooperative unit with his friends who took turns to collect.
“The process enabled us to have money in bulk to do businesses and engage in other things,” he said.
Mrs. Ajuma Akuda, a widow, said that prior to the cash transfer, she was a labourer at building construction sites.
“With the proceeds from this initiative, I run a business and can cater for my children,” she said.