Nigeria

VP Osinbajo cannot touch tradermoni, other N-SIP funds – official

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Justice Bibiye, Communications Manager, National Social Investment Office (NSIO), says that funds allocated and released for the financing of the National Social Investment Programmes (N-SIPs) are not domiciled in the Office of the Vice President.

Bibiye, in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, said that such funds were domiciled in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning from inception.

He said that the decision was taken very early in the implementation of the N-SIPs when President Muhammadu Buhari asked Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to oversee the schemes.

Bibiye said that the clarification was important following insinuations in some quarters regarding the amounts budgeted and released for N-SIPs.

“Consequently, that ministry commenced the management of the financial components of the N-SIPs.

“The Ministry also serves as the Secretariat of the Steering Committee that supervised the programme coordination, also responsible for presenting memos about the schemes each time that was required at the Federal Executive Council.

“The Buhari administration’s Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) is the largest social investment programme in Nigeria’s history.

“Four broad programmes, N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfers, National Home-Grown School Feeding and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes, are under the N-SIPs, each uniquely targeting different subgroups of Nigerians.

“The design of the N-SIPs structure never envisaged the awarding of contracts by the NSIO. `

“Consequently, the procurement and disbursement of funds for the N-SIPs have never been done in the Office of the Vice President.

“Indeed, the National Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), being the custodian of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) server, supports the National Social Investment Office (NSIO) as its Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) in that capacity.’’

Bibiye said that NIBSS had facilitated the authentication of the unique identities of all the beneficiaries, before payment.

According to him, NSIO merely provides the schedules of beneficiaries, comprising their names and banking details, to the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.

He said the ministry as the custodian of the funds, transmitted the amounts slated, depending on the programme needs, directly to the beneficiary accounts through the NIBSS.

He said that the Steering Committee for the NSIO, chaired by the vice president, supervises the implementation of the SIPs.

“The Steering Committee comprises nine ministers, including that of Finance, Education, Health, Agriculture, Trade and Investment, Youth and Sports, Women Affairs; Labour and Productivity; Information; with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning as the Secretariat.

“The Steering Committee meets regularly for updates, to review, advise, guide and approve the processes of the N-SIPs.

“The NSIO has continued to prioritise transparency in disbursements.

“It has also ensured a level-playing field for all the beneficiaries, collated data and verified identities of beneficiaries of the different schemes, through a close collaboration with relevant agencies of government.

“All payments on the programmes are transferred directly to beneficiaries from the Federal Government coffers.

“The only exception is in relation to the cash transfer programme, basically because the beneficiaries reside in areas where there is a dearth of banking infrastructure.

“Being much too poor to travel long distances to receive the monthly N5,000 disbursements, the decision was taken to ensure the funds are conveyed to them at their places of residence,’’ Bibiye said.

He said that for TraderMoni of N10,000 loans to petty traders, enumeration was done in the open markets and wherever the traders plied their trade.

He said that while BVN was not required for the first level of N10,000 loans, the criteria included having a phone, a verifiable place of trade- kiosk, table-top, spot– and the interest to apply for the loan.

The communications manager said that the registered traders were then processed for the N10,000 loan disbursements.

“Upon repayment within six months, the beneficiary becomes eligible for a larger amount of N15,000 and incrementally, all the way to N100,000 if and when the collateral-free loans are repaid within the designated time frame.

“It is at the second stage, where the applicant indicates the interest to apply for a larger loan amount, that it becomes necessary for the applicant to open a bank account with a BVN,’’ he said.

He further explained that since its implementation in 2016, the N-SIPs had impacted over 12 million direct beneficiaries and over 30 million indirect beneficiaries, comprising employees of beneficiaries, mobile money agents, cooks, farmers and extended family members.

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