FG to Resume Direct Cash Transfers to Poor Nigerians as Hunger Spreads

February 22, 2024
Direct Cash Transfers

By Adedapo Adesanya

Amid current realities, the federal government intends to restart direct cash transfers to the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians, after a scandal led to the suspension of the programme last month.

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Mr Wale Edun, revealed this during the Ministry’s retreat held in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State.

He said approximately three million people are recipients of the scheme but due to the escalating cost of living, the government anticipates that an additional 12 million households could qualify for these direct payments.

The Finance Minister said, “The presidential panel on the social investment programmes have prepared to go to Mr President with an internal recommendation to restart the direct payments to the poorest and the most vulnerable. Everything is being done to ease the pain.

“We know that there have been about three million beneficiaries now, but given the way the rates have gone, there are probably another 12 million people, households that can benefit from that payment.”

The Minister noted that the expansion of the direct cash transfer aims to reach a wider population struggling with the economic situation and to put more money directly in the hands of those who need it most, allowing them to prioritise their needs and alleviate poverty.

The decision to inform the President of the panel’s decision before the final report is completed is to keep Mr Tinubu abreast of developments.

Mr Edun stated that technology will be used to ensure smooth and transparent payments, avoiding manual processes and delays.

He said, “The only thing delaying that is not waiting for the end of the report. It is something that the intervention is meant to happen immediately.

“We have technology experts, the commitment was to make sure that we use technology to ensure that we have a seamless payment, a seamless movement between the registered and the direct beneficiaries, without any manual processes in between. So it’s taking time to automate that process immediately that direct payment will resume”.

He also reiterated that recognising the significant impact of food prices on household budgets, the government is taking steps to increase food availability and drive down costs.

The Minister reiterated President Tinubu’s intervention to release 60,000 metric tonnes of food grains, saying, “The goal is to put food, to put feed into the mill, into the market, in an attempt to drive down the cost of food and make food available. Right now, that is the key priority in terms of the fiscal side, in terms of the government side.”

He also defended the plan of the direct cash transfer to the poorest and most vulnerable in society, arguing that “history has shown, evidence has shown that when you pay someone directly, you put money in their hand. It reduces poverty because they decide where the shoe is pinching most.

“So, it is a direct benefit, it has a direct effect on poverty. It alleviates, and there’s a commitment to immediately start that process. So, that is, as far as these interventions are concerned and the landscape which we as a team are facing, we commit to helping to bring down inflation,”

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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