The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, on Wednesday, while briefing State House correspondents after meeting behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja stated that people with over N5,000 in their bank account will not benefit from the FG's palliatives to cushion the effect of the lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This criterion according to Farouq is one of three that will be used by the Federal Government to define the "urban poor", following President Buhari's directive that the beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer be expanded by one million from (2.6 million to 3.6 million).
According to the minister, "we have three options; one, we are going to use the national social register that we already have, two, we are also going to focus on the urban poor as I mentioned, by using their verified BVN accounts to get them, that is, people that have an account balance of N5, 000 and below.
"We are also using the mobile networks, to know people that top up the credit units for their phones with maybe N100 or less. Those are also people that we consider to be poor and vulnerable. So, these are the three options that we are exploring and I am sure that by the time we get this data we will be able to give this intervention."
The FG's decision appeared not to have settled well with lots of Nigerians.
- 'N5,000 not enough' -
Reacting, Oni Tunde Temitope (@Honietemie) said; "An excuse for failure, Quack decision of an irresponsible rulers, imbecile greedy wicked people. You think we are all as fool like you? keep reigning oo. It's your time. Your evil days await u. Any hope or faith in you is hell."
Another Twitter user, Ifeanyi Ubah (@PrinceIfeanyiU4) commented; "Laughable. Then please tell NCDC to stop sending message to my mobile."
Ekakiti Anthony (@anthony_ekakiti) said; "How long will even 20,000 take a family of 7? There is God, evil will not depart from everyone using covid-19 as opportunity to collect what's for the masses for personal."
EHIOGIE EDDY (@Ehiogieeddy) stated; "What is 5k, so I should be begging before you know I am broke and need help. What will 5k do in two wks when a rubber of rice is around 2600."
Commenting in Pidgin English, Wole Wallington (@wolewallington) said; "Charley nor be 5k dollars! FG how much una pikins take dey buy vanilla ice cream?"
- 'I don't own money in my account' -
Some Nigerians, however, condemned the directive on the basis that the money in their bank account might not belong to them; thus, could be unknowingly disqualified.
Commenting in a jovial manner, Godschild (@okochajoy2010) said; "Oga at the top abeg the money in my account is for a client I was suppose to work for before the whole lockdown started, please disregard that particular account and use my other bank account."
Jerryism (@jerrylawrence47) who claim to be a student head commented; "So student like me, that is a course rep, and my course mates had transferred dept project money to my account before all this prevailing situation in this country. Would not receive because dept project money is in my account. Because the money na my own ba. Am disappointed."
Another user, iMansoor (@MansoorDara) pleaded; "Someone should tell them that the money in my account is not mine please."
- Plan to start emptying account -
To qualify, some Nigerians although condemning the FG's directive stated they would empty their accounts to get qualified for the palliatives.
A Twitter user, @henreechestnut, commented in Pidgin English; "Lol na to move the money from one account to another na, e no hard."
Another user, LyDe (@Foodie0007) asked; "I have 6k in my zenith account and 226naira in my GTB... should I transfer 3k from the zenith into the GTB so I'll qualify?".
- Benefit of being broke -
According to some Nigerians, since the criteria require possessing lesser than N5,000 in their bank accounts, this is a benefit of being broke.
A Twitter user, Cactus (username: @Sontavian) said; "Finally the benefit of being broke".
@crucifixxobaby claimed she has lesser than N5,000 in all her three accounts; "My 3 accounts dont even have upto 5k. We are safe."
- World Bank's definition of poverty -
World Bank defines "extreme poor people" as those "who live on $1.90 a day or less". Nigeria in May 2018 overtook India as the home to the largest number of poor people in the world.
Going by this definition, and considering the fact that the lockdown directive by President Buhari will last for 14 days, that would mean the poor are expected to live with $26.6 (about N10,294) or below for the next 14 days, therefore, it can be concluded that the FG's criteria defining the poor does not correlate with the World Banks standard.
- Palliatives for daily wage earners -
Farouq's statement clarified the palliatives will be targeted at "people who depend on the informal sector to earn their livelihood; they are daily wage earners and these are the people that we are really going to focus more on as well as people living with disabilities."
She, however, said only 25 per cent of the population would benefit for now, adding that the scope might be expanded later.
Vanguard News Nigeria.