By Philip Dzeremo
The Federal Government has so far paid N37.5 million to support the poor in Benue under its Social Re-investment Programme.
Mrs Mary Igwe, an official with the State Unit of the Cash Transfer Office, said the money was paid to 938 extremely poor and vulnerable persons in the state.
Igwe said at a training programme for cash transfer facilitators on Tuesday in Makurdi, that each beneficiary received N10,000 every two months.
The training has as its theme, “Enrollment of Cash Transfer Beneficiaries using New Mobile Application”.
She said that the programme which covered seven local government areas of the state, began eight months ago.
According to her, the disbursement of the funds commenced after an agreement between the Federal and Benue Government on the implementation of the social welfare intervention programme.
She said the beneficiaries had been encouraged to form “financially active groups where so many have benefited from the contribution scheme.”
On the training, Igwe said it was to acquaint the facilitators on the use of relevant technologies to enrol new beneficiaries into the scheme.
“The State Cash Transfer Unit has received a list of 4,832 names from the National Cash Transfer office drawn from the National Social Insurance registry for the purpose of re-enrollment using the newly acquired application.
” The application is intended to automate data captured in the field while minimizing data acquisition related problems.”
She said that the aim was to weed out those who were better off, and allow only the poorest to benefit from the programme.
The official explained that the register had to be updated to accommodate new beneficiaries while those not within the target group were dropped.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator, Cash Transfer Office, Dr Timitope Sinkaye, commended the Benue Government for implementing the four components of the Social Insurance Programme.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the four components being implemented in Benue include; School feeding, N-Power, G-Power and the Cash Transfer programmes.
NAN also reports that the programs were part of the social intervention program of President Muhammadu Buhari to alleviate poverty in the country by targeting the poorest of the poor.
Sinkaye appealed to the state government to assist the facilitators with motorcycles to enable them cover rural areas, as the social insurance program was the most important aspect of the SIP.
“It is in the forefront of the scheme of President Buhari’s efforts in tackling poverty across the state by uplifting the most vulnerable out of the poverty bracket within a time frame, ” she added.
The national coordinator said identification of vulnerable poor in communities across the country was ongoing, adding that “as more people are discovered, more beneficiaries will be captured”.
She, however, admitted that the process leading to the identification and payment was cumbersome, but assured that efforts were been intensified to overcome the hurdles.
Sinkaye explained that the program was not just about cash transfers but also about building the capacities of beneficiaries to transform their lives.
The coordinator, however, lamented that the program was encumbered by challenges, especially in the area of electronic cash transfer to beneficiaries.
“The commonest challenges we have are poor internet connectivity, lack of banking infrastructure and mobile money agents in rural areas.”
She disclosed that in overcoming some of the challenges, beneficiaries were now given specific dates and time for the disbursement of their allowances.
Sinkaye warned the facilitators against sharp practices as anyone caught would be sacked. (NAN)