The Federal Government says it has concluded plans to empower 6,000 poor and vulnerable persons with a N5,000 monthly stipend in 12 communities of two local government areas in Bayelsa State, under the National Social Safety Nets Project (NASSP).
The beneficiaries of the scheme were drawn electronically from twelve communities of Ogbia town, Eboh, Obedunah and Idema in Ogbia Local Government Area while Yenagoa town, Ovom, Onopa, Igbogene, Yenegue, Akenfa, Agudama Epie and Akenpai in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state, made up the rest.
Coordinator of the State Operation Coordinating Unit, Mr. Felix Asingbi, made this known during a courtesy call on the Chairman of the Bayelsa Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Samuel Numonengi in Yenagoa.
He said the new programme by the Federal Government is in partnership with the World Bank to ameliorate the harsh effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the poor and vulnerable.
Asingbi explained that the programme is one of the Federal Government’s key strategy to reduce poverty, re-distribute wealth to the less privileged, poor and vulnerable in the country and it is mainly targeted at small business owners, street vendors, petty traders, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and other low-income service providers.
According to him:
“Others are low wage employed individuals and families, including daily wage-based labourers, 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 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 are fake and fraudulent, insisting that the text message from 929 was genuine.
Responding, Chairman of the NUJ, Comrade Samuel Numonengi expressed concern over the number of beneficiaries allocated to Bayelsa despite the population of the state.
He pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the various agencies handling issues of poverty alleviation and empowerment to widen their scope in order to capture more indigenes of the state.