Nobel Prize-Winning Economist, Amartya Sen says: “Poverty is the deprivation of basic capabilities of human beings.”
The scourge of poverty in the context of this definition could also find aggressive expression through anger, crimes, violence and even degradation of democracy.
Buhari’s presidency understands this reality and introduced social intervention programmes since 2016 till date. These social intervention programmes include: – N-power, Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, GEEP and Conditional Cash Transfer.
The Conditional Cash Transfer, according to the federal government is to “positively impact the lives of 150,000 rural women across the 36 states and the FCT.
Recently, the Conditional Cash Transfer team led by the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouk, was in Minna the Niger State capital.
According to the Minister, the sum of N80,000,000.00 was disbursed to 4,000 rural women in the state.
However, it is disheartening that the requirements and manner of disbursements were as flawed as it can get. The disbursement was characterized by disorderliness, double collections while the targeted women were seen loitering and looking helpless. Among the beneficiaries, it was a practical show of physical strength that degenerated into fisticuffs which led to a change in location.
Expensively dressed, educated and visibly looking working-class women were seen collecting the cash grant meant to support the entrepreneurial advancement of the “real rural women”.
Sadly also, some women were short-changed and given meagre N5,000, instead of N20,000 by certain men who “helped” secured a space for them on the queue. Again some men dressed in embroidered flowing gowns came with lists of names they claimed were for their people in the rural areas.
It is highly regrettable that no proper selection and monitoring mechanisms were put to shut-out these men and women from this intervention.
Poor awareness creation and enlightenment also contributed to the ‘not-so-pleasant’ scenarios that played out at the disbursement venue.
The government must do more in enlightenment, proper organization and monitoring of her social intervention programmes. Technology gadgets that will capture beneficiaries’ fingerprints and data at the point of cash collection should be adopted. State Focal Persons must liaise with Ward Heads, District Heads, Market leaders/Unions, Civil Society Organizations and religious leaders so that only deserving target citizens benefit from the program.
More so, political office holders, political party officials and well-to-do individuals should understand the enormity of trust burden placed upon them to always bring up the names of those who are truly “poor and vulnerable” in their communities so that poverty could be truly seen to have been fought by the government.
Abubakar writes from Minna, Niger State. (Muhammadcares4u@gmail.com)