Recent data from the World Bank’s Lead Economist for Nigeria, Alex Sienaert, reveals that only 0.1% of the anticipated poor and vulnerable households have received the Federal Government’s newly launched cash transfer of N25,000 per month. Sienaert shared this information during his presentation of the Nigeria Development Update, December 2023 edition, in Abuja last week.
According to the presentation, the government’s plan to provide cash transfers to low-income households, amounting to N25,000 per month for three months, has encountered significant challenges. As of now, only 1.5 million households out of the targeted 15 million have received payments, indicating that a mere 0.1% of the projected households have benefited.
This low disbursement rate raises concerns, especially considering the prevailing economic hardships in the country. The recent removal of fuel subsidies and other policy changes disproportionately affected Nigeria’s poor and vulnerable population. The monthly cash transfer system, funded by a World Bank loan, was intended to alleviate their financial struggles.
The implementation of the program may be hindered by the requirement for National Identity Numbers (NIN), with reports suggesting that a low number of eligible individuals possess these identification numbers. The government aimed for 20% of registered individuals in the National Social Registry to have a valid NIN by June 30, 2022. However, as of December 31, 2022, only 0.10% of the totally poor and vulnerable Nigerians on the registry had NINs.
Out of the projected 9.67 million beneficiaries, only about 9,670 people were identified with NIN. Emphasizing the role of the NIN in the cash transfer program, Sienaert stated during his presentation, “Beneficiaries will be supported to enroll in the NIN during the verification process to expand the coverage and use of the national identity number.”
The low implementation rate raises questions about the effectiveness and inclusivity of the government’s social welfare initiatives, emphasizing the need for addressing the identified challenges to ensure that the intended beneficiaries receive the much-needed financial support.