With the COVID-19 Lockdown in some states, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Ibrahim Pantami, has said that the federal government has been providing necessary cash assistance, food items and other relief materials to poor Nigerians whose monthly top-up is less than N300.
He said the government embarked on the palliatives-sharing exercise following the hardship citizens are facing as a result of the lockdown and restriction of movements in some states.
Mr Pantami made this known in a video obtained by PRNigeria while fielding questions during an interview session.
He said through data mining process facilitated by SIM card registration, the federal government was able to identify persons who direly need government’s support and also detected their poverty level.
“Through data mining, we have discovered those that need urgent intervention when it comes to feeding, and also meeting other basic necessities of life,” he said.
Mr Pantami, who said the government budgeted huge amount of money to cater for the poor and vulnerable who have been hit by the lockdown, noted: “The federal government has been assisting many poor citizens on a weekly basis. Sometimes, our officials directly distribute food packages to their homes. And one of the most effective way we used to identify very poor persons is by looking at how much they top-up their mobile lines every month. There are those whose monthly top-up is less than 1 dollar, or let me say, N300. And with this, we were able to categorize their poverty level, see what they need, and how government can assist them.”
In a related development, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, has said that urban poor dwellers with an account balance of N5,000 or less will be among the beneficiaries of the federal government’s Conditional Cash Transfer scheme.
Speaking with State House correspondents in Abuja, on Wednesday, she stated that the prospective beneficiaries would be part of the additional one million households approved by President Muhammadu Buhari to boost the nation’s social register.
She said: “You are also aware that Mr President in his broadcast (on April 13) has directed that we expand the beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer by one million.
“In this regard, we are going to focus more on the urban poor. These are people who depend on informal sector to earn their livelihood – They are daily wage earners and these are people we are really going to focus more on as well as people living with disabilities.”
The minister further explained that apart from the National Social Register, the Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) and previous record of purchase of recharge cards by mobile phone owners would form parts of criteria in identifying the beneficiaries of the cash transfer.
“We are also using the mobile network, people that top up their phones with maybe N100, N200. These are the people we consider to be poor and vulnerable,’’ she added.