On the 1st of April 2020, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, disclosed that the Federal Government had commenced the payment of N20,000 each to 5000 beneficiaries of its Conditional Cash Transfer(CCT) Under its program of social intervention and as promised by the President and commander in chief Muhammadu Buhari when he addressed the Nation to inform the country of the restriction of movement in two states and the Federal Capital Terrritory (FCT), Abuja.
A worthy first point to note, was the situation were cash points are set up in market places or by the road side during the current covid19 pandemic defeats every intent of the rule of social distancing and staying home. The same Government who set the rules became the first to break those rules.
We strongly believe that, there are better ways to distribute these funds and have no doubt that the FG has good intentions and are taking measures to cushion the effect of the lockdown but not in the manner in which they have decided to go about it.
Every state in Nigeria is grouped into Local Governments, wards and units and It is safe to say that the Government knows this, a collaboration with banks, traditional institutions and the local Government chairmen who are directly connected to the intended recipient, is a better way to distribute these funds equitably.
The display of raw cash on tables and the struggle to take pictures all for publicity and stating that these persons are the poorest and most vulnerable people in the society without any verifiable database is completely absurd and clearly manifests the glaring incompetence amongst the leadership of our governance structure.
Some Nigerians took to social media to complain about the seemingly disproportionate way the money has been shared thusfar and the classification of persons who are beneficiaries of these monies.
“Come to think of it why is only those with hijab or let’s generalize it to the muslims only. Just wondering”
@DemolaRewaju also tweeted
“Apart from the obscene movements and display of raw cash, the nonchalance around social distancing and the claim that these recipients are the ‘poorest of the poor’ in Nigeria . I am concerned about the legality – is the Customs aware, as it should by law, if this isn’t even illegal”
“Lol. Such a joke. Are you just going to start carting cash around the country, setting up tables in market places and asking poor people to come and line up?”
“Who is checking the amount disbursed. Against what register.
” This is not a time to missappropriate funds o. Think am o.
The money laundering act states that;
“No person or body corporate shall, except in a transaction through a financial institution make or accept cash payments of some exceeding N5,000 ,000 or its equivalent in the case of an individual or N10, 000, 000 or its equivalent in the case of a body corporate “
and subsection 3 states that:
“Transportation of cash or negotiable instruments in excess on US$10, 000 or its equivalent by individuals in or out of the country shall be declared by the Nigerian Customs Service.
Which compels us to ask, is the Nigerian Customs Service aware of this?, has the federal Government done the needful or asked the necessary questions before sharing these funds?, why are they not maintaining social distancing?
The Central Bank Of Nigeria has in very recent times driven its policy of a cashless society which it hope’s will help transparency and reduce corruption because financial transactions can be monitored and tracked although a large percentage of Nigerians are yet to have financial inclusion which will give them access to useful and affordable financial products and services.
If the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social development, Under Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, says it has registered over 10 million beneficiaries in its data base, it behoves of the Honorable minister to put this database to the strictest use.
Finally, transparency is an important transactional requirement Nigerians need at a time like this , if indeed the FG has good intentions then best International practices and standards should be adopted where a list of beneficiaries is published for public consumption and scrutiny of persons who received the said Conditional cash transfer.