BY Osa Okhomina, Yenagoa
The federal government has concluded plan empower 6,000 poor and vulnerable persons with N5,000 monthly stipend month in twelve communities of two local government council areas of Bayelsa under the National Social Safety Nets Project (NASSP).
The beneficiaries of the programme, according to the State Operation Coordinating Unit (SOCU), were drawn electronically from twelve communities of Ogbia town, Eboh, Obedunah and Idema in Ogbia Local Government area and Yenagoa town, Ovom, Onopa, Igbogene, Yenegue, Akenfa, Agudama Epie and Akenpai in Yenagoa local Government area of the State.
The Coordinator of the State Operation Coordinating Unit, Mr. Felix Asingbi, while speaking yesterday during a call on the Chairman of the Bayelsa Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Samuel Numunengi, said the new programme by the Federal Government is in partnership with the world bank to ameliorate the harsh effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the poor and vulnerable.
According to him, the programme is one of the Federal Government key strategy to reduce poverty, re-distribute wealth to the less privilege, poor and vulnerable in the country and it is an expansion of the existing National Social Safety Nets Project (NASSP) that targets small business owners, street vendors, petty traders, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and service providers.
“Others are low wage employed individuals and families, including daily wage-based laborers, urban poor and destitute (persons with disabilities), and vulnerable families in slum areas, affected by the pandemic.”
The category of beneficiaries, who will benefit are typically the urban/semi-urban poor engaged in the informal sectors of the economy, who lost their source of livelihood due to the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and jobs. The Federal Government plans to extend cash transfers to households in this register for a period of SIX months.
He also stated that NASSCO would use geographical satellite sensing to locale the wards where the urban poor live, as the targeting of the poor would be done via cell phone Short Messaging Service (SMS) technology that allows residents of targeted communities register to be assisted by following simple steps using USSD codes.
Asingbi ,who said the visit to the secretariat of the Nigerian Union of Journalists was part of the Federal Government sensitization campaign for the programme, dismissed the notion held by some individuals that text messages on the programme is fake and fraudulent, insisted that the text message from 929 is genuine.
Leadership however gathered that the Urban Poor Rapid Response Register being used by the Federal Government to select beneficiaries of the various poverty alleviation programme has registered 120,000 persons drawn from 400 communities in Bayelsa State.
The quota of the 6,000 beneficiaries in the N5, 000 monthly stipend scheme was drawn from a poverty head count drawn by the Federal Bureau of Statistics that out of 100 persons in the State, a total of 22.61 per cent persons are poor in Bayelsa State. And out of the populations of 2.4million in Bayelsa, a total of 541,447 persons are poor.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Bayelsa Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) ,Comrade Samuel Numunengi expressed concern over the number of beneficiaries allocated the state despite the population of the state and pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the various agencies handling issues of poverty alleviation and empower to widen their scope in order to capture more indigenes of the state.