Social Investment Programme gulps N41.7b ― Presidency

THE sum of N41,714,793,293 has so far been spent on the implementation of the federal government Social Investment Programme (SIP) across the 36 states of the federation, the Presidency said on Tuesday.

According to a statement issued in Abuja by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on media and publicity. Laolu Akande, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has now directed that the spending on the programmme be increased significantly.

A breakdown of the over N41billion indicated that N-Power, which is the job programme for unemployed graduates, has received N26.418 billion; Home Grown School Feeding (HGSFP), N7.092 billion; Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), N800 million and Government Enterprises Entrepreneurship Programme (GEEP), N7.301 billion.

Giving an update on the school feeding programme, the statement said no less than 25 million meals have been served under the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme of the SIP.

A breakdown of this shows that 1,051,619 million primary school pupils are now being fed across the seven states of Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, and Zamfara state with about 11,847 cooks employed in a total of 8,587 schools.

The statement said meals will soon be served in Delta and Abia States which are now to be paid under the SIP, adding that Delta State is expected to receive a sum of N63, 366, 100 to start the feeding of 90, 523 primary school pupils while Abia State is also expected to receive  N42, 921, 200.

The statement noted that Kaduna State has now been repaid N3.4billion for its past expenses implementing the food programme ahead of federal government’s roll-out.

It pointed out that Acting President who had received the SIP Update Report recently noted the progress made under each of the programmes, “but gave express and urgent directives that the programmes be promptly expanded in coverage so that more Nigerians can start to benefit.”

It further observed that a comprehensive SIP implementation analysis shows that every local government area, every State and the Federal Capital Territory have beneficiaries in one of the four programmes, while some states are already benefiting in more than one.

The statement added: “For instance, under the N-Power job scheme for unemployed graduates now running in 36 States and FCT, 162,024 unemployed graduates have been effectively enrolled and validated-meaning have been cleared to be receiving the N30,000 monthly stipends, out of the 200,000 originally engaged late last year.

“A vast majority of the validated beneficiaries have been receiving stipends as at 31st March, 2017. Indeed an additional number has just been added to the list of those receiving their pay in the last several weeks.

“However, effort is being made to validate others and ensure that the 200,000 places provided for in the first batch of the N-Power programme are all effectively validated as provided for under the first phase of the programme.

“A date for the engagement of more N-power beneficiaries and the reopening of the portal to receive more applications would be announced soon.

“Under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme, 26,942 beneficiaries are now being funded as at last month with the monthly N5,000 stipend in 9 States and 84 Local Government Areas. The States are Borno, Cross River, Niger, Kwara, Ekiti, Kogi, Oyo, Osun and Bauchi.

“Based on the recent directive of the Acting President, the number is expected to add up to about 400,000 beneficiaries (and in more States) in a couple of months.

“Also the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme (GEEP) designed for the empowerment of market women, traders, artisans and co. has also recorded good progress with the disbursement of 57,234 interest free loans, except a one-time low administrative fee.

“GEEP which is designed for well over one million Nigerians has now registered 3,162,451 people who have showed interest and are members of 26, 924 registered cooperatives for purposes of the loans. So far, women participation has been remarkable with 56% of loans so far disbursed to women beneficiaries in 28 States and FCT.

“Directives have also been given to scale up the loan disbursement to 150,000 by end of next month.”