With the government finally fulfilling one of its promises to Nigerians, we hope the other change promises would be fulfilled soon.
After it won the election in a landslide, with President Muhammadu Buhari defeating the sitting president, Goodluck Jonathan, it was with bated breaths that Nigerians waited for the promises to start unfolding but the stories kept changing by the day.
At a point, Nigerians were told that the stipends would be paid to the poorest of the poor and the vulnerable and that it would soon take off.
But after a long delay that crept on for close to two years, the government has announced that the scheme has started off in at least nine states with more to follow.
In a statement signed by Laolu Akande, the spokesperson to Vice President, Yomi Osinbajo, the payments have already begun in earnest.
The statement reads in part:
‘As part of its determined efforts to touch the lives of Nigerians positively, the Buhari administration has now started the payment of N5, 000 monthly stipends to the poorest and the most vulnerable in the country through the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) of its Social Investment Programmes, (SIP).
Under the CCT, one million Nigerians would receive N5, 000 monthly payments as a form of social safety net for the poorest and most vulnerable as budgeted for in the 2016 Budget.
The first batch that commenced last week, nine states would be covered, and many of the beneficiaries have already reported receiving their first payments by Friday last week, December 30, 2016.’
Nice moves, one would say and commend the government on fulfilling one of its promises, even though it took more than one and half years to commence.
But the boggling question this program beg to answer is how the poorest and the most vulnerable in the society would be captured. Though the government says it would rely on the existing Social Register created by the affected states, one wonders if the real poor people are the one captured and not the politicians and their protégées.
It is a known fact in Nigeria that those in positions of authority always find ways to circumvent any government policies to their own benefit instead of allowing it to get to those they are meant for.
They see government money as their own and it would not be a surprise to find out that most of those who would be captured on the registers are names submitted by politicians with the monies going into their pockets while the real recipients, the real vulnerable people would end up not getting anything at all.
Nigerians are also telling the government that with the social benefit project safely on the ground, the economy should be considered as 90% of the citizens are still vulnerable to the recession, economic hardship, unemployment, lack of infrastructure, the high cost of living and hunger.
The government should up its game in making sure Nigerians start to reap the dividends of democracy instead of the continued hardship being experienced and this should be done by enacting people-friendly policies and interventions that would take the country out of the woods.
After all, the present regime rode into power on the promise of change, so the change should be seen as all-inclusive.