Paying beneficiaries of social investment funds

THE twin problems of ineptitude and corruption that have tethered the country and arrested its development came to the fore again with the recent report that beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme in some states had not been paid for months. As many of the intended beneficiaries in these states protested the government’s failure to pay them, the office of the social investment programme hinged the sad situation on contractual issues.

This development is not only saddening but alarmingly infuriating. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo only recently lamented the level of poverty in the country just as the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said that more Nigerians took new loans that were primarily used to pay for food items, farm and non-farm business tools, during and after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. These statements point to the extent of deprivation and hardship in the country. So, it is quite gnawing that the effort of the government to alleviate the poverty of the people has been messed up by government officials’ incompetence, which resulted in the mishandling of the process.

Just how do you leave the supposed beneficiaries of social investment funds in the lurch during a pandemic? To say the least, the allegation that some contractors handling the project suddenly disappeared into thin air after being mobilised with funds running into billions of naira casts the government in very bad light. Does that mean that no due diligence was done before the said contractors were engaged? Did they leave no address? Why should it be difficult to trace such individuals if they registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and produced a Bank Verification Number (BVN) as expected of every government contractor? Why should the government find it so difficult to enforce its own rules?

While it is good that the government is now attending to the beneficiaries so as not to continually subject them to misery, the issue of what happened during the months under scrutiny should not be swept under the carpet. Everyone involved in the process of disbursing the funds should be interrogated to get to the root of the matter.  The government needs to move beyond mouthing good intentions and ensure that the intentions are implemented so that the envisaged change can be birthed. Until the government rids itself of corruption and ineptitude, its good intentions will continue to produce deplorable results and foist despicable situations on the people.

 

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