Nigeria: Buhari's Social Investment Schemes Improving Lives - ActionAid

ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), an international not-for-profit outfit has said Nigeria’s social investment programmes are improving the lives of its citizens.

In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES and signed by Country Director Ene Obi, on Tuesday, the outfit said the organisation was able to monitor and evaluate three out of the Nigeria Social Investment Programme (NSIP) independently.

The three programmes that were reportedly evaluated include N-Power Programme, Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).

According to the statement, the findings were pulled from the collective monitoring of the 70 per cent of the local governments in 35 states, excluding Kano State “where monitoring was carried out in 18 LGAs by some Civil Society Organisations – funded by the United Kingdom (U.K) Department for International Development (DFID) Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) and Ford Foundation.”

The outfit said its personnel interviewed over two million Nigerians (beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries) between May and December 2018 for the three programmes.

”AAN also held quarterly feedback sessions with the National Social Investment Office (NSIO) on findings and suggested how to improve service delivery to the citizens,” the statement noted.

Findings

On the HGSFP, AAN said, from the monitoring exercise, “there is clear evidence of meals provided in primary schools through the programme.”

It furthered said “the development resulted in more pupils going to school, improved concentration of pupils during classroom teaching, reduction in absenteeism, and in some cases reduction in the rate of illness among pupils as reported by headteachers, parents and pupils in the communities visited.”

On N-Power Programme, the ANN said Government officials confirmed that the beneficiaries of the programmes “were brought to their schools, Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC), agricultural establishments, and offices.”

According to the statement, thexercise also confirmed that schools that were in critical need of teachers, got beneficiaries to teach through the N-Power programme, and other non-teaching establishments also gained trained labour to add to their existing workforce.

On the GEEP, it recommended system strengthening and public enlightenment for the programme to gain more ground with the citizens – without findings.

According to the statement, the CSOs conducted monitoring in 15 selected LGAs with over 100 wards reached.

In Kano State, ANN said the CSO carried out its exercise in 18 selected LGAs with over 55, 000 beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries consulted.

With over 70 per cent of beneficiaries interviewed in Adamawa State, it said it believed that the programme had impacted positively on lives.

Recommendations

ActionAid Nigeria, however, acknowledged the contributions of the N-SIP in addressing the problems of out-of-school children and youth unemployment in Nigeria.

”We believe more Nigerians can be reached if the voted funds are released because the intentions are good and (we) commend the highly competent technical staff of the NSIP, led by Mrs Maryam Uwais for the job done so far.,” the statement added.

Public perception

The release is against the backdrop on the recent criticisms by concerned Nigerians on the impact of the schemes in selected northern states.

PREMIUM TIMES, on May 27, reported how Aisha Buhari criticised the social investment programmes (SIP) administration, coordinated by Maryam Uwais, a Senior Special Assistant to her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari.

Mrs Buhari said the initiative failed to reach its intended beneficiaries, in at least Adamawa and Kano states.

Mrs Buhari said she was told that 30,000 women from Adamawa would benefit from the programme “but nothing of such happened.”

However, in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES, signed by Mrs Uwais on May 30, she itemised its achievements in two northern states where Mrs Buhari said the programme had no impact.

The schemes were set up by the Buhari administration to improve the living conditions of millions of poor Nigerians across the country.

A PREMIUM TIMES investigation showed how the NSIP programme failed in financially including most of its beneficiaries, as there was no adequate mechanism put in place for their sustainability.

For instance, all of the beneficiaries of Tradermoni, another flagship scheme of the government, in Jigawa State, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES, said they have not repaid the first loan they got.

Similarly, a report by PREMIUM TIMES showed how the government’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) led thousands of rural farmers to join Nigeria’s banking population.

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