By Stephen Adeleye.
Some beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) in Kogi, have expressed joy over payment of their backlog of stipends by the Federal Government from January to April 2021.
The CCT is the disbursement of N5,000 monthly stipend to the poor and the vulnerable households under the Household Uplifting Programme of FG’s National Social Investment Programme (NSIP).
The beneficiaries, who spoke to our Correspondent through interpreter on Tuesday in Okene, who were mostly elderly women, widows and vulnerable citizens, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the gesture.
They also thanked the federal government for choosing Okene as one of the LGAs to test run the introduction of the Digitalised mode of payment to beneficiaries.
Halimat Usman, 75, and Ikhmat Shaibu 70 , both from Upogoro-eba community, said they felt excited receiving the money to take care of themselves and cater for their well beings.
”We are very grateful to our President Buhari, for remembering the aged and widow in the rural communities, and we are very happy with the money”, Shaibu and Usman said.
A physically challenged female beneficiary, Oke Usman, 30, from Idiche community, told NAN that she was particularly happy about the introduction of digital payment, saying, ”I can now access my stipend anywhere without stress.
”I thank the President and the Governor for considering persons living with disability even in the rural communities”.
Aishat Suleiman, 60, and Sikiratu Isiaka, 67, from Orere and Ozi-Ahache communities respectively, expressed their gratitude to the President, and prayed God to bless and reward him.
In his remarks, the State Focal Person of NSIP, Mr Abdulkareem Onyekehi, commended President Buhari for his commitment to uplifting the people of Nigeria out of poverty through the social investment programme.
Onyekehi noted that on assuming office in 2019, the CCT beneficiaries was about 11,500, saying it has grown progressively to 74,111 in the state.
He said that the programme had brought development to the people of the state, adding that the payment of the N20,000 to the poor and vulnerable was ongoing simultaneously across the 21 LGAs of the state.
”It is a good development for us as a people, as a government and the team involved; it has really impacted the lives of the poor and vulnerable people in Kogi”, he said.
He commended His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello, for creating the enabling environment and supporting the full implementation of the NSIP in the state.
He noted that the Federal Government was test running 30 per cent of the payment to be digitalised, which was being practicalised in Okene, saying, ”you can see that the beneficiaries are very happy with the digitalised payment.
”But, we are still using cash payment in other LGAs, until we go into full automation and cashless payment.
”The FG decided to introduce the digitalised payment to reduce the risk involved in carrying cash about into rural communities”.
He added that the CCT was having a huge impact on the economy of Kogi State, saying the FG is paying each beneficiary 20,000 which is a backlog of N5000 for four months, from January to April 2021.
He advised the beneficiaries to take good advantage of the programme and make good use of the money to do something meaningful to their lives.
Also speaking, Mrs Falilat Abdurasaq, the Head of Kogi State CCT Unit, said a total of 3, 632 CCT beneficiaries were captured in Okene LGA.
Abdulrasaq said that with digitalised payment, the beneficiaries would easily have access to their stipend anywhere they are without stress of queueing and waiting in the sun.
She explained that some beneficiaries who were pregnant or lactating women or have a child between zero to five years during the time of capturing were categorised under ‘Top-Up’ households.
She added that the top-up households were being paid N30, 000 instead of N20,000, to alleviate their burdens.
”The program is to enable that we lift these women out of poverty; we don’t want to leave them the way we met them at the beginning of this programme.
”We have built their confidence, introduced them to banking sector, and they formed themselves into cooperative groups, save their money in the bank or among themselves.
”Because of this, a lot of them have acquired assets, start businesses, farming, bought grinding machines, and canoe to transport their goods in riverine areas”, she said.