Buhari suggests taking SIPs away from Osinbajo, gives reasons

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (R), inspecting food items at the Utako Market, during the launch of TraderMoni in Abuja on Thursday (6/9/18). 04819/6/9/2018/Ibrahim Sumaila/JAU/NAN
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (R), inspecting food items at the Utako Market, during the launch of TraderMoni in Abuja on Thursday (6/9/18). 04819/6/9/2018/Ibrahim Sumaila/JAU/NAN

President Muhammadu Buhari appears to have confirmed the transfer of the control of his administration’s Special Intervention Programmes (SIPs) from the Vice President’s office to the newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development.

Mr Buhari hinted at the change Tuesday morning during his National Independence Day’s broadcast amid indications of a simmering crisis in the presidency.

The SIPs include the Home-grown School Feeding Programme, Government Economic Empowerment Programme, N-Power, Trader Moni, and direct cash transfers to the “poorest families.”The programmes have an annual N500 billion budgetary vote.

“To institutionalize these impactful programmes, we created the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development which shall consolidate and build on our achievements to date,” said Mr Buhari, apparently explaining the transfer of the programmes to the new ministry headed by Sadiya Faruq. “To the beneficiaries of these programmes, I want to reassure you that our commitment to social inclusion will only increase.”

One of the programmes, N-Power, deploys thousands of unemployed graduates to fill inadequacies in public services in education, health and civic education, with N30,000 monthly benefit. It is the country’s poster work-for-cash social programme to address the challenge of unemployment.

However, like others, it comes short of fitting into the standard definition of conditional cash transfer (CCT), contrary to the government’s boasts.

CCT programmes transfer cash to poor households based on the condition that the beneficiaries demonstrate pre-specified investments in the human capital of the members of the households, especially children.

In other words, they are not just for the recipients to use for clothing and feeding, but also to combat wider effects of poverty and social problems a country faces such as low-school enrolment rate, poor rate of vaccinations for children, gender disparities and malnutrition, among others.

For instance, in Bangladesh and Cambodia, CCTs have been used to drive a reduction in gender disparities in education, the World Bank reports.

In the case of Nigeria, however, there are no conditions that beneficiaries of social programmes need to demonstrate; for instance, enrolling their children in school – to tackle the country’s notorious problem of a high number of children out of school.

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