By Asmau Ahmad
The Federal Government of Nigeria said it has disbursed N900 million in Borno state to mitigate COVID-19 impact under the country’s Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus NG-CARES programme.
The Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mr Clem Agba disclosed this during the Ministerial Town Hall Meeting for stakeholders in Borno and Yobe states.
Agba who was represented by Mr Abdulkareem Obaji, National Coordinator of NG-CARES said that the Programme was a 750 million dollar-World Bank assisted Multi-Sectoral Programme, launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2020.
He explained that it is an initiative of the State Governments with support of the Federal Government within the framework of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).
He said that each state was eligible to draw-down 20 million dollars ex-ante and the FCT 15 million dollars within the two-year span of this emergency intervention.
He explained that, it was designed to provide immediate relief to Poor and Vulnerable Individuals and Households, Small-holder Farmers and Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) that were adversely affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The NG-CARES is implemented at the States and FCT under the World Bank Programme for Results (PforR) funding instrument, in 11 Disbursement Linked Indicators and three Results Areas as follows which include; Increasing Social Transfers, Basic Services, and Livelihood support to Poor and Vulnerable Households among others.
Others include Increasing Food Security and Safe Functioning of Food Supply chains;Facilitating Recovery and Enhancing Capabilities of MSEs, among others.
“The town hall meeting is initiated by my Ministry to promote open and transparent governance where citizens’ participatory engagement is further strengthened within the framework of President Buhari’s Government of social accountability.
“Distinguished participants, one of President Buhari’s strategies is to intermittently meet with, and engage stakeholders as part of Government’s accountability to the citizens. The purpose basically is to hear, first-hand, views of our people on government policies and programmes and to feel the pulse of Nation.
“This interaction is even more imperative given the fact that NG-CARES Programme draws some of its beneficiaries from the National Social Register.
It is important to enquire from you how effective is this approach as we seek the consolidation of the National Social Register as a major source of credible data for social protection intervention in the country,” he said.
He lauded the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the guiding vision and directing mandate to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the period of 10 years.
According to him, the programme has so far impacted on two million direct beneficiaries in the 36 states including the FCT.
“This is based on the report of the first round of assessment of the Programme implementation conducted by an Independent Verification Agent.
“The federal government once again wishes to restate its commitment to restoring the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable Nigerians, maintain food security and facilitate the recovery of MSEs.
Speaking, Ms Lami Audu, a beneficiary, lauded the federal government.
She said the intervention has impacted meaningfully on vulnerable households in the state.
Audu who worked in a primary healthcare facility in Maiduguri said Solar Energy facility was provided in the hospital through the programme to improve health care services for more than 200 people patronising the hospital on a daily basis.
Another beneficiary, Muhammed Mustapha, from Bama Local Government Area said he was supported with funding to improve on his cap knitting business which has gained remarkable improvement.
Mustapha who lamented that he was a victim of the Boko Haram insurgency noted that the intervention has impacted on his life positively.